Vince Cannon

Vince Cannon

Years: 1973-1989
Position: Second row
Appearances: 438

The 1980s were not the best decade in the history of Northampton Saints. There was acrimony off the field and disappointing results on it. To stay at the club throughout such times took a lot of commitment: something Vince Cannon had in spades.

Kettering-born Cannon was a fixture in the Saints team throughout his 16 years at the Gardens, a period in which he racked up 438 appearances - easily the most for a second-row forward and the third highest in the history of the club. His scoring prowess was not too bad either and he crossed the whitewash 74 times and landed a solitary conversion for a points tally of 298.

Cannon was as distinctive for his beard as much as his longevity. And though his play was such that he got to the verge of international honours, it is his dedication to the Saints cause that marks him out as a true legend. It is just a pity that the club's success did not match the effort he put in.

Cannon took over the captaincy in the 1982/83 season. Unfortunately a poor run of results meant that the campaign was one of the worst in the club's history. This was compounded as the club slid towards ignominy, including finishing at the bottom of Division Two in the first year of English leagues.

This period was one of general discontent at the club amongst players and supporters, culminating in the revolution of July 1988 that sparked the turnaround in the club's fortunes. As well as new management, there was a new director of rugby in Barrie Corless. Throughout it all though was Cannon, who saw in the new regime by playing in its first fixture, a 22-13 friendly victory over Harlequins.

Cannon has remained in the Northampton area since retirement in 1989 and he has not been forgotten at the club either. Former team manager Lennie Newman was a regular second-row partner - including that first fixture under Corless - and when five former captains were chosen to open the new Church's Stand (that completed the redevelopment of the ground) Cannon was among them.