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500 not out; Kitman Kev Buckby reaches incredible Saints milestone

After 15 years at Northampton Saints, not many people have seen or done more at Franklin’s Gardens than kitman Kevin Buckby.

Ahead of hanging up the famous Black, Green and Gold jerseys for the 500th time this afternoon, we sat down with Kev to chat about favourite strips, kit malfunctions, away days and plenty more besides…

Read the entire feature-length interview in today's matchday programme, on sale at Franklin's Gardens for £3.50.

Q: Kev, 500 games with Northampton Saints is a truly amazing achievement. Could you have imagined 15 years ago that you would have been at Franklin’s Gardens for so long?

KB: When I initially came here, I felt very lucky to get the job. I had been playing club rugby for Kettering and after injuring my neck had been told by a surgeon that if I went into another scrum – or, as I was a farmer as well, if I rode on another tractor – I was going to end up in a wheelchair. I knew the team manager at the time, Lennie Newman, well and he wanted to give me a Saturday job to make sure I didn’t go back to playing. He knew after six months that if I felt ok I’d be straight back out there playing again! It was just a part-time role for the home games to start off with, but obviously it soon progressed the being a lot more than that. At that time I didn’t expect to still be doing it 15 years and 500 games later, and the role has changed a lot since then.

Q: Is there a good little fraternity of kitmen in the Premiership?

KB: There definitely is; we all talk to each other and help each other out where we can. If someone forgets something, you don’t want to leave them in the lurch as what we do off the field will never directly affect the outcome of a game. You don’t want to see an opposition player slip over and injure themselves for example, if they have the wrong studs with them. There are a couple of kitmen who have been on the scene even longer than me – the two lads at Sale Sharks, Alan Blease and Robbie Dickson, have been there since day dot. Robbie was there when Jim Mallinder was playing! And Roy Reyland at Saracens has been there for quite some time as well.

Q: What’s been your favourite moment at the Club?

KB: It’s a fairly straightforward one to pick but the 2014 Premiership Final was a very special day for me. I’d been involved in finals before; we’d won the Championship, the EDF Trophy, the Challenge Cup too. But this was the first major domestic trophy that we’d won and the crowd there on that day was incredible, as was the feeling of doing it at last. From there, we were the team that everyone wanted to beat. The best atmosphere I think I’ve ever experienced though – away from Franklin’s Gardens – was going to Thomond Park for what was also coincidentally my 200th game back in 2010. It was a Heineken Cup quarter-final, and the Munster fans are unbelievably passionate. On the bench we had little kids behind us smacking us on the head with flags! Clermont is good, but this was the next level up. But I’m excited to see what the future holds and I’m sure there will be many more great moments for us.

Read the entire feature-length interview in today's matchday programme, on sale at Franklin's Gardens for £3.50.

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