Born in Belfast, Les joined the club as a fresh-faced 10-year-old in 1953 playing in one of the junior teams – winning their division his first year with 11 wins out of 11 and only conceding three points all season.
He continued to play into his teen years before a neck injury caused him to give up playing at 16, which led to a decision to join the club’s executive committee.
“They used to have dances at the old clubrooms,” he said.
“There was another guy, one of my mates, and they asked us to go on the door so we signed up as committee members, at 16.”
He was in charge of funding from 1996 until he finished up last week – securing money to keep Belfast rugby afloat year-on-year, a job that has got more and more challenging as time goes by.
“Players don’t hang around the clubrooms now. We’ll have a band come in, have a social, but about seven – bang, they’re all gone,” he said.
“It’s a completely different thing you know . . . the young ones tend to socialise in bars or nightclubs.
“Years ago you’d come on a Wednesday night, and you couldn’t move in the place and they might do $10,000 over the bar, but now you’d be lucky to do $1500.”
Les’ work in rugby wasn’t limited to Belfast – he managed Canterbury for a period in addition to being a liaison officer for teams who visited Christchurch – including Super Rugby and international sides in the Garden City – but sometimes taking on extensive travel.
“I was the liaison officer for the Scotland team, living in with them (for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand).
“We were supposed to play two games in Christchurch, at Lancaster Park – but the stand got stuffed (in the February 2011 earthquake).
“So we had to go to Invercargill and Wellington and Auckland.” Most teams who visited gave Les a thank-you gift in the form of a team jersey – which got donated to Belfast’s clubrooms.
“We’ve got 196 jerseys at the club from all around the world.”
Les’ role as club administrator and staying with various sporting teams has meant he hasn’t spent as much time as he would have liked with his wife, Elaine.
“My wife’s been pretty sick, so I just want to spend a bit more with her, you know,” he said.
“She had a rough time of it for 58 years (of marriage) you know, I’ve never been here.”
He plans to spend his new-found free time tidying up his house and garage with an eye to moving from their Belfast home.
But he’s not leaving the club completely, despite what some thought.
“The chairman of the board wrote on Facebook: ‘Les is leaving the club', and everyone’s like ‘oh s**t',” he said.
“I said I’m not leaving, I’m a life member you know!
“I’m just retired from doing the funding and every other bloody dogs-body job.”
“We are often quick to celebrate the efforts of players and coaches but it’s often the huge contributions of people like Les who ensure that our game and club can continue to be the important place it is in our lives.
“The club and its members could never repay Les’ untiring efforts, particularly in fundraising for the club.”
Semi-final qualifiers looking tight
Old Boys Collegians and East Shirley go into the last round of the Christchurch Metro 50-over competition knowing they will likely need a win to make the semi-finals.
The two teams are equal on 32 points in fourth and fifth in the competition – where the top four teams qualify for the knockouts.
Defending champions Old Boys face Burnside West University at Burnside Park in what is a rematch of last year’s final.
East Shirley face a Heathcote team high on confidence having already qualified for the semi-finals with a week to spare – and enjoying the services of in-form batter Tyler Lortan.
If both Old Boys and Easts win their games and neither or both get bonus points, the last semifinal spot will be decided by net run-rate.
Lancaster Park host Sydenham who, after a poor start to the season, have won their last two games to be sixth.
Merivale-Papanui host St Albans in a battle to decide who avoids finishing bottom of the ladder.