Club President, David Trick picks up from where he left off last season with a trip down memory lane in the latest edition of Tricky's Tales.
During the latter part of my time at Bath I played in a match against Bedford; the opposition had a young lad playing in the second row called Martin Bayfield. At 6'10" tall and 18 stone (2m 8cm & 115kg) he was an imposing figure. Shortly after this match Martin changed clubs and started an illustrious career with Northampton, going on to play 34 times for England and also the British & Irish Lions.
A year or two later and Martin was a regular in the England team, forming a great partnership in the second row alongside Martin Johnson. I vividly remember the first time I played against Northampton with Mr Bayfield in the side. During training in the week leading up to the game I heard Jack Rowell talking to the forwards. "So, how are we going to stop Martin Bayfield winning all the lineout ball on Saturday?" Nigel Redman, our own international second row and student of the game had an immediate and, may I say, effective response, he simply said, "Don't kick the ball to touch." – Problem solved in my opinion.
Martin is an extremely funny man and brilliant after dinner speaker. Since retiring from the sport, he has appeared in all the Harry Potter films as the body double for Robbie Coltrane who played the part of 'Hagrid' the giant. In addition to this he has presented various television shows including the World's Strongest Man and more recently secured a 'slot' on Crimewatch. There is a link here because Martin used to be a policeman before rugby became professional in 1995, PC546 of the Bedfordshire Constabulary. I can't remember when it was Martin told me the story I'm about to relay to you but it did make me laugh.
Early in his police career he was assisting in an early morning raid on the house of one of Luton's many undesirables. Full of excitement at the thought of doing some real police work, he made his way with several colleagues to Luton's Latin Quarter (only joking) and took up his position outside the ply-wood & bottle-glass front door of the aforementioned suspect – a man believed to be involved in burglary and drugs.
Two seconds after a member of the team had whispered, 'Police, open the door,' the Yale lock gave up without a fight as a well-placed size fourteen boot smashed the door open. They entered the house and Martin remained downstairs as the other members, including the supervising Sergeant, headed upstairs.
For a while it was a routine police search, evidence was sought and occasionally found, private photos were rifled through and the kettle was put to use in double quick time. As the raid meandered towards a satisfactory conclusion Martin's sergeant raced downstairs with obvious tears of laughter running down his cheeks. Seeing Martin he grabbed his wrist and launched himself back up the stairs, giggling like a naughty schoolboy. As the two of them headed up, they were passed by two more officers heading down, both screeching with laughter. As they passed on the stairs Martin recalled one of them looking at him and saying, "Brilliant."
They entered the suspect's bedroom where three further officers had also dissolved into fits of laughter which was further fuelled by his arrival at the scene. The miscreant remained impassive with his hands handcuffed, and unusually, a twinkle in his eye when he saw Martin. As Martin surveyed the scene the suspect began to smile at him, which merely caused more hilarity amongst his fellow officers.
In true 'Inspector Clouseau' fashion Martin used all his senses to work out what was causing the laughter. The pointing of fingers by fellow officers towards the ceiling and the raising of eyes in the same direction was his biggest clue.
He looked upwards and there, above the criminal's bed (he was later convicted), stuck to the ceiling with 'Blu Tack' was a life sized poster of Martin Bayfield resplendent in his England kit.
The bar for any future personal embarrassment from that moment on had been set incredibly high.