CLIFF Fairley, who died on New Year’s Day, was one of Petersfield Rugby Club’s great servants and a true clubman.
Over the 90 years of the club’s existence, there have been many people who have volunteered their time, but few worked for so long and so tirelessly as Cliff Fairley.
In 1973, a trip to visit family friends Simon and Anne Blumlein convinced Cliff and wife Judy to move to Petersfield and it was not long before he walked into the back bar of the Red Lion – at that time the PRFC clubhouse – and signed up to play.
Cliff played for the 2nd and 3rd XVs between 1975 and 1985, captaining the third team from 1981-84. Once his playing days were over, he became a full-time alickadoo, serving as club chairman from 1981-91 and president from 2004-08.
Among his achievements during his reign were the construction of the clubhouse when chairman and the changing-block extension when president. His administration skills were not just saved for Petersfield and he made his mark in Hampshire too.
Even when not in a formal role, Cliff was a fantastic ambassador for the club. He undertook many unsung duties, such as providing a vital link between the club and the older members.
He was an ever-present at matches and could usually be seen on the touchline through good times and bad and in all weathers. Many will also remember Cliff for his rugby knowledge and entertaining after-dinner speaking.
Cliff’s dedication to the club was recognised in 2013 when he became the first recipient of the Petersfield RFC Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in Clontarf, Dublin, Cliff Fairley moved to Cork when he finished his education at Mountjoy College. He continued his playing career as a prop forward for Cork Constitution RFC (1955-1962), going on to captain the side. During this period, he also turned out for the Munster 2nd XV.
In 1962, he moved to England and played for Sutton & Epsom RFC from 1962-66, during which time he met and married Judy.
It wasn’t just in rugby that Cliff had a talent; he played cricket for Cork County and Steep and was a keen member at Petersfield Golf Club.
His many friends heard the news of his passing with great sadness and regret. He will be missed by all at the club.