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Leighton Says a Final Goodbye
Glenmark’s Leighton Croft says that his days playing in the PGG Wrightson Combined Country competition are now officially over.
The 34-year-old, who has racked up one of the best careers in Canterbury club rugby since making his debut as an 18-year-old, says that his boots are falling apart and that that is an indication that it is time to retire - again.
“I was dragged back into playing,” the Omihi farmer laughed at Methven after Glenmark’s 19-3 win in the PGG Wrightson Combined Competition Final, “but I don’t think that I will be back this time.”
Leighton – who played for Canterbury Country for a number of seasons and for Canterbury B – is from Glenmark rugby royalty. The Crofts are right up there with the Wyllies, the Loes, the Earls and Deans’.
Leighton has been involved in all the titles that the club has won in the last 16 years and he says that they have all been special in their own way.
“This one (against Methven) was particularly good as we are a side without any real stars. In the past we have had teams that have had one or two players who have stood out. With this one the team has won it for us.”
Leighton says that the game has changed over the last 16 years. “It may not be as physical as it once was, although it is a lot faster and most of the sides we now play are younger in general.”
Leighton’s motivation has always come from enjoying his rugby and playing with the club that he loves. “The young guys keep me young,” he laughs. “I really have enjoyed my rugby with Glenmark.”
Part of the reason has undoubtedly been that Leighton was brought up with rugby. “It has been a big part of our family’s culture and it was nice that my dad was there to see the Final. I didn’t think he thought he would be still following my rugby when I was aged 34!”
It appears that although Leighton’s playing days are over, his involvement with the club is far from finished. “I’m not sure what I will do, but I do know that I would still like to be involved with the club. It’s in the blood.”
Then there is the small matter of following his three children around. “My daughter Evie is six and she is playing for Glenmark, while my two sons Max and Monty will also hopefully play for the club in future.”
Leighton says that if this is the end of his playing career then it was a good season to say goodbye. “We had a good build-up and a pre-season trip to Sydney and so it has been very enjoyable overall.”
The only question remaining is what might happen if someone at Glenmark chooses to get Leighton some new boots…
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