RUGBY UNION: Best Man Baxter Can Make Day

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Blair

I t could be a 'bumper' crowd, Phil Maynard ventures as he ponders the level of interest in Pertemps Bees' confrontation with Worcester at Sharmans Cross Road this afternoon.

But what is a bumper crowd in First Division terms? If Worcester were playing at Sixways in a Championship decider, four or five thousand might fit the word. Down a side road in Solihull, you could halve that.

Two thousand's the most the Bees have ever seen, for the Rotherham game last season, but they could go better than that today.

Three thousand? It's a top-of-thetable clash, Bees are the 15th best team in England, it's a vital game for Worcester and they'll bring a few folk of their own.

'Could be a record gate,' says Maynard. 'And I'd like to think it's the start of a continuing trend.' The top First Division club versus the third. Good sales point. But it's more than that, even, and that's why Worcester could be bringing an extra quota of supporters.

For the Bees side are packed with their old favourites. Six players plus Phil Maynard, now Bees' director of rugby and Bob Harknett, their coach did valiant service at Sixways and are not forgotten.

But as we dwell on those lines, Maynard makes no special point of it. 'Every club in the division could say something similar,' he said.

'Worcester have had so many players and got rid of so many that we've all been touched by the Sixways thing.'

And of all the men caught in this frantic traffic, who have found their way to Solihull, who is the most significant?

'Me,' said Maynard (behind-the-hand aside: 'I'm saying that to take the pressure off the others').

It is a serious question and perhaps it can be adjusted to read: Who is the Bees' player that Sixways misses the most? …