The first two of this year’s inductees to the Northampton Saints Hall of Fame have today been revealed by the Club, with Keith Barwell OBE and Ian Hunter set to be honoured at the special event on Thursday 10 November.
After taking a three-year hiatus, the special celebration is back for 2022; and this year’s dinner at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens will include a champagne reception and three-course dinner in the Rodber Suite.
The Club’s Hall of Fame features many of the world’s greatest-ever players, with 21 former Northampton stars inducted since its inception in 2004. To see the Hall of Fame inductees in full, please CLICK HERE.
This year’s dinner will see Barwell and Hunter, two Northampton legends who made massive contributions to Saints both on and off the pitch, join that illustrious company – with several other inductees also set to be announced in the coming weeks.
With tables of up to ten people available to book now, and Club Historian and BBC journalist Graham McKechnie hosting the ceremony, this is a chance not to be missed to witness a piece of Saints history.
Tickets are on sale for just £125pp (plus VAT) with 300 places available in total. Season Ticket Holders can enjoy preferential rates with packages also available for company and sponsor tables.
For more information or to book a whole table, please email [email protected].
KEITH BARWELL OBE
Northampton Saints supporters will forever be in the debt of Keith Barwell – the first-ever non player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame – whose investment, commitment, and leadership helped the Club to transition into the professionalism and paved the way for modern-era success.
After first getting involved at the Gardens back in 1988, when he became a box holder following the lucrative sale of his newspaper chain, Barwell came to the fore in 1995 at the dawn of professionalism as England’s biggest clubs scrambled for investors.
Barwell’s initial £1m investment to become majority shareholder was followed by significant further investment over the years that followed, which helped to establish Saints as one of the best teams in Europe – with Northampton winning the Heineken Cup title in 2000.
‘Uncle’ Keith also firmly believed in creating a sustainable Club which could stand on its own two feet financially, and a combination of Barwell’s shrewd stewardship and modern business ideas ensured Saints would become the only side in the Premiership to turn a profit for 16 straight years following the turn of the millennium.
All the while, on the field Saints continued to be successful, lifting the Premiership trophy, and winning multiple European Challenge Cup titles as well as the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Barwell was succeeded by his late son, Leon, as chairman between 2011 and 2013, while his daughter Ella Bevan remains on the Club’s Board of Directors. He was honoured in 2016 as the ‘Barwell Stand’ was revealed at Franklin’s Gardens.
The family donated the bronze statue which sits outside the Club’s reception and reads, ‘They Tackled The Job’. Without the Barwells, Northampton Saints would not be what it is today.
Ian Hunter is one of just 15 Northampton Saints players to have played more than 150 matches for the Club, while also representing England and the British & Irish Lions at international level.
Able to play either on the wing or at fullback, Hunter made his Saints debut in 1988 having made the move to Franklin’s Gardens from Nottingham, becoming Saint #1582 and going onto make 155 appearances in Black, Green and Gold.
Over the next decade, Hunter scored 44 tries for Saints, kicking a further 73 points for a Northampton total of 268. It was a period of change for the Club at the dawn of professionalism, but alongside a raft of talented young players including Paul Grayson, Matt Dawson, Tim Rodber, Nick Beal, Martin Bayfield, and Gregor Townsend, Hunter’s contributions ensured Saints remained at the pinnacle of English rugby.
After snubbing an approach to switch codes to Rugby League, Hunter’s first England cap came against Canada in 1992. He scored twice in a 26-13 win, becoming the first player to score a try in a rugby international at Wembley Stadium in the process.
Hunter picked up six more caps throughout his career, and played twice at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, with another career highlight coming in 1993 when he was selected to tour New Zealand with the Lions.
Unfortunately, his tour was over almost as soon as it begun as he dislocated his shoulder in the opening game against North Auckland, and were it not for a series of shoulder injuries which followed, no doubt Hunter would have racked up a lot more appearances for both Club and country.
Since retiring, Hunter has continued to keep a close link with Northampton Saints as a part-time summariser for the Club’s matches on BBC Radio Northampton.