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Gordon Sturtridge

Gordon Sturtridge

Years: 1933-1943
Position: Fly half
Appearances: 118
Australia caps: 9

The history of Northampton Saints would have been dramatically different had Gordon Sturtridge, commonly known as 'Doc,' not joined the club in the early-1930s.

Indeed, the direction of the club in the post-war years hinged on Sturtridge's decision, while touring with the Australian national side in South Africa, to take up the option of a ticket to England rather than a return trip home.

Already qualified as a doctor, Sturtridge told his wife - who he had married in secret just a few days before he had sailed to South Africa - to meet him in London. After a short spell at Rosslyn Park, Sturtridge moved to Northampton, where he soon became a superintendant at the general hospital.

Very much a running fly half, in his first stint at Franklin's Gardens Sturtridge quickly became disillusioned with the forward-dominated style, and when he set about rebuilding the club after the end of World War II, he was determined to fashion a team in his own image. He used to say: "When I'm pushing up the daisies I want you young fellows to develop a 15-man game," and his attitude was typified in the simple fact that the Saints kept on playing through the war right up until 1943.

After retiring from playing he became a formidable administrator and for 13 years he was the most powerful president the club has known. Very much a man ahead of his time, Sturtridge took considerable time analysing the opposition, man by man, and his knowledge of players - not to mention his 'little black book' - helped lay the foundations for a spectacular two decades in which many Saints played for England and the British and Irish Lions and became legends of the game in their own right.

Even though he died on his birthday, September 16th, at just 58 years of age, Sturtridge's name lives on in the pavilion at the North end of the pitch that takes his name.