Kevin Beardmore, the former Castleford and Great Britain hooker did this interview as part of Rugby League World’s ‘Blast From The Past’ series in 2008.
What are you up to these days?
I’m in the same job I’ve been doing for the last 20 years, running pubs.
Have you been involved in the game at all since your playing days ended?
I did some coaching at Kippax but that was it.
What’s your biggest career highlight?
Winning the Challenge Cup with Castleford at Wembley in 1986, beating Hull Kingston Rovers. I was quite fortunate to start in that game because I got injured earlier in the season but luckily Malcolm [Reilly] selected me. His team talk that day was superb and Rovers were red-hot favourites. We went down on the Wednesday and we stayed in the same hotel as the Liverpool team who were playing at Chelsea, in a game they had to win to win the championship. As I came off the Wembley pitch, all I wanted to know was how Liverpool had done! They won which made it the perfect day for me and a week later they won at Wembley themselves in the FA Cup final.
John Kear told us last month that he did a lot of work on Hull KR, preparing a dossier on the players.
That’s right. John’s a very good friend of mine and I love him to bits. He was still playing at around that point I think but with his teaching background, Malcolm obviously saw something in John and thought he’d make an excellent coach.
What was Malcolm like to play for?
He had the complete respect of all the players because he could do everything he asked us to. His physical strength and fitness levels were incredible and it was the same when he coached Great Britain. He had also been my hero so it was great to play for him.
You toured with Great Britain twice, firstly in 1984 under Frank Myler’s coaching.
Frank was a great bloke! I go to quite a few dinners and do question and answer sessions afterwards and one of the stories about Frank from that tour is one of my favourites. We arrived in Auckland from Australia and it was absolutely chucking it down. Frank told us that we’ll start training when it stops raining but it never stopped for the whole time that we were there!
What do you remember of your Great Britain debut in Christchurch on that leg of the tour?
Brian Noble was the captain and he picked up an injury so I came off the bench. We lost 28-12 unfortunately but the side lost all six Tests to Australia and New Zealand on that tour. It was an honour to play for my country and it was great to play alongside a lot of the young blokes who went on to enjoy tremendous careers, like Ellery Hanley, Andy Gregory and Joe Lydon.
You played in the Winfield Cup for Canberra Raiders in 1985.
That’s right. I had a good time over there. Sam Backo was there at the time and he was a superb player. Dean Lance, who later coached Leeds, was playing too and Don Furner was the coach. He coached Australia and New South Wales so I picked up plenty from him.
You toured again in 1988.
We’d closed the gap quite a bit by then but unfortunately I missed the Test that we won. I played in the first two, in Sydney and in Brisbane but then I missed the famous third Test win through injury and my place was taken by Paul Hulme.
Why did you choose to retire when you did?
I realised one day that my commitment and desire for the game wasn’t what it had been. It would have been unfair on other people to carry on once I realised that was the case. I’d done everything in the game that I’d wanted to do.
Who were the best Cas players you played with?
Barry Johnson has to be at the top. He was absolutely superb with phenomenal ball-handling skills. Bob [Beardmore’s twin] was up there too and so were Kevin Ward and John Joyner. John was a classy, experienced player.
Do you still follow the club?
Not so much because I’m always watching Liverpool! I go to all the home and away games and a lot of their games in Europe so that takes up most of my time and money. I go to occasional Cas games and enjoy them still but I was always a big Liverpool supporter, even as a kid.
So how did you get into playing Rugby League if you were so into soccer?
I played rugby at junior and high school so it was always there and I wasn’t good enough to make it in football. Bob was the same. I realised I was good enough to play rugby, along with Bob, and we pursued that.
Did it make it easier making the grade having Bob there?
It did. People laugh but I always knew where he was on the pitch even if I couldn’t actually see him! Maybe that’s one of those telepathic twin things people talk about but, on the other hand, it might not be because I had the same understanding with Barry Johnson! The three of us worked very well together.