“LIVING the dream.” That’s how former rugby international Will Greenwood described playing out his boyhood ambition, pulling on the Hurst Green FC strip for the first time.
Greenwood, who once said that he would swap his England World Cup winners’ medal for a chance to play up front for his hometown club, fired home in the legends charity match at Sunday – his side went on to lose the match.
The friendly played in his honour took place at Smithy Row, the home of the West Lancashire League First Division side on Sunday.
The squad who finished fifth place for the 2014/15 season beat the Hurst Green Legends, captained by Greenwood, 5-2.
Greenwood, 42, educated at Stonyhurst Saint Mary’s Hall, starred in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia, won by Jonny Wilkinson’s last-minute drop-goal.
He said: “People ask me if I have any regrets in life?
“Just one – that I never wore the Hurst Green Football Club shirt. That’s how much it means to me.
“I was always looking over our garden fence on Smithy Row, Hurst Green going, ‘Go on, give us a shout – pick me’!”
Hurst Green vice chairman Ian Barton said: “Will Greenwood is our number one fan – and the game is a way of saying thank you to Will for all his support over the years.
“Will did a sportsman’s dinner for us at Longridge, with former England coach Brian Ashton, and it raised £7,000.
“That helped the club gain admission to the West Lancashire League with the ground improvements that we were able to make. He has played a huge role. Now he can live the dream by wearing the number nine shirt for the village team he has always supported.”
A good crowd turned out to watch Greenwood score on his debut, smashing home from five yards following a corner.
The legends fell behind again only for Mark Young to slot away a penalty after he was himself felled.
Greenwood was to be cruelly denied another goal in front of his home crowd but his well taken goal was ruled out for offside.
The first team side pressed home their superior levels of fitness and scored three late goals through a Bee penalty, Mort and a Hayes header.
Nearly £1,000 was raised through contributions on the day of the game and from local businesses.
The money will be donated to Greenwood’s chosen charity BORNE.