I have long been a fan of Dai Young.
It is clear looking at the majority of the Wasps related posts across websites and social media that I am not alone in that. However there seems to be an undercurrent that I honestly find quite disturbing. It goes a bit like this.
It was Dai and Dai alone that saved our club and he has been forced out by avaricious bean counters who don’t care a jot for the game.
That couldn’t be more wrong, and in my attempt to prove that to you I’m going to change the subject completely.
Some five and a bit years ago my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He spent over a year having several operations and undergoing regular chemotherapy. I spent the time trying to raise money for the one small charity that funded research into his disease.
When he was officially categorised as being in remission, I announced it on several websites where people had been supportive of me, and that afternoon I had a surprise phone call.
A gentle Irish voice introduced himself as Derek Richardson from Wasps. He’d rung to say how pleased he was to hear my news and to invite me to bring my son (and the rest of my family) to the Ricoh to meet the players after a game.
We chatted for the best part of an hour, about our favourite moments for the club – Clearly the recent thrashing of Toulon at home featured highly – about rugby in general, and about the future of the club.
He was as good as his word, and we did indeed get to meet the players, a flag signed by the squad still has pride of place in my daughter’s room, and my youngest, the reason for the whole thing now considers “Big Joe”, and Ashley to be his friends.
Derek and I have stayed in touch. From time to time we chat and it’s always about the rugby. His passion for the game and for Wasps specifically is impossible to ignore. And so when people refer to him and the team he has assembled as dishonest, as avaricious, as “stuffed blazers”, as “greedy bean counters”, it makes me genuinely angry.
Yes Dai Young paid for supplies out of his own pocket before Derek came on board, and there is no one who would deny Dai his place in the hall of Wasps legends. But one thing should be immediately clear to anyone who has the sense to look.
The man who actually saved our club from oblivion was Derek Richardson.
He’s the man who has paid truly vast sums of money from his own pocket to make the club what it is today.
He’s the man who provided the funds that allowed Dai to assemble the amazing squad he did.
He’s the man who ensured we had a home when we were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy at Adams Park.
He’s the man who worked his entire career to become rich and then poured the sort of money that most of us will never see without a lottery win into the club we all love.
He’s the man who never asked for thanks.
He’s also the man who is always found in the crowd supporting the team, at home and away.
He’s the man chatting to fans in a bar in France before a European game.
He’s the man making sure a small child he’d never actually met had an amazing time at a game.
He’s also the man who is almost certainly going to tell me off for writing this.
So yes, Dai leaving is the end of an era, it’s sad, and we should all be grateful to the big man for what he has done for us.
But the fact remains that we are a club who has an owner who genuinely cares. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that the important thing is the club. It is bigger than any one person, him included.
He’s doing the very best he can for the club, he always has, and I strongly suspect he will continue to for some time.
We’ve got an amazing senior team at Wasps assembled by Derek, and I have no doubt that we will end up with another amazing DOR.
I’m sad it didn’t work out with Dai.
But more than that, much more in fact.
I’m bursting with excitement about where the club is going.
It’s the start of a new era, and I can’t wait!