Landmark cap awaits for Cambridge Rugby Club ace Mike Ayrton
Winger aiming to create fitting occasion against Old Elthamians
Steve Bowller has lauded the achievement and commitment of Cambridge Rugby Club’s Mike Ayrton.
The co-captain is on the brink of making his 200th appearance for the club this Saturday, in the home match with Old Elthamians, which is some going for the 26-year-old.
Ayrton joined Cambridge in 2010 after completing his studies at Oaklands College, and made his first appearance for the club in a pre-season friendly against Moseley.
He has gone on to become part of the fixtures and fittings at Volac Park, taking his try total to 70 with an intercept score in the 25-14 National League One win at Rotherham.
Bowller is now the president at Cambridge, but took over as chairman at the club in the November after Ayrton’s arrival.
To reach a double-century is some feat, especially considering the increasing demands on semi-professional rugby players, although Cambridge pride themselves on building from within.
“You do get quite a large squad rotation so to actually have someone consistently be right there and get to 200 caps is pretty unusual, to say the least,” said Bowller.
“I remember when Mike first arrived, he was one of the kids, 18, and we thought who is he – look what he has become, it’s great.
“At that time when he turned up and the turmoil that followed, to a certain degree, his parents could have taken one look at that and said let’s get him down to Bishop’s Stortford or wherever, but he stayed with it.
“All of a sudden, within a fairly short space of time, he became one of the senior players even though he is still quite young.
“He seems to have been around forever. He is one of the loyal go-to people at the club. It’s fantastic really.
“There will be somebody somewhere in National One that has got 200 caps for one club, but there won’t be many.
“We were talking to Rotherham and I think they have three players left over from last season and all the rest have gone; a lot of these clubs will be exactly the same.
“That’s the one thing that we have managed to a certain degree – I know some players went away and have come back, like Rob Conquest – we’ve got a lot of people that have been around the club for a while now, even though they’re young.”
Ayrton was appointed co-captain with Ean Griffiths at the beginning of last season, and has grown into the role.
Bowller also points out that the winger/full-back is able to more than hold his own despite something of a diminutive stature, and he has always been involved with the first team throughout his time at the club.
“You look at Kwaku (Asiedu) on the wing, who is massive, and Mike just about comes up to his belly button,” said the president.
“He is only a little guy, which is unusual because all the wingers are getting bigger and bigger, and he still puts it in; and played very well at full-back against Rotherham.
“He has been around for a long time and he just seems part of the furniture. And because of his age, you look at him and think there are another four years at least – 300 caps has got to be on the cards for him for sure.”