EVERY rugby club has a genealogy running through its core.

Northwich has more than most.

Family plays a vital role in a child’s introduction into sport and their continued participation.

This is certainly evident at Northwich where siblings of both genders and all ages participate in a range of activities.

Add to this that many of the dads are former players who now help with coaching and with a few grandparents thrown in as well, there can often be three generations of the same family involved.

Balin Johnson son of Paul (Magic), nephew of Brian Johnson (director of Buccaneer Promotions, Northwich rugby kit supplier and club sponsors) and grandson of Northwich honorary secretary Colin Johnson, contacted us from New South Wales, Australia, requesting a new shirt as he’d outgrown his.

Northwich Guardian:

He now plays his rugby at Arndell College Crusaders, but began as an Under 7 at Northwich.

“Being that my family has always been big sport fanatics, I learned to love sports at a young age,” he recalls.

“My dad was a player, as well as my uncle, so I always heard stories about them from when they were playing and how much they loved the game.

“So eventually I became interested and wanted to play. I loved to go and watch their games and every time I would watch I just couldn’t wait until I could play on a real team too. I was around six when I played for the first time.

“The discipline is crucial, the teamwork, the respect for others. It doesn’t matter where you are, it’s all the same values.

Northwich Guardian:

“It brings the most amazing people together and opens your eyes to things you wouldn’t really think about otherwise. They are values that, if you learn them through sport, are enjoyable. There doesn’t need to be a goal, just have fun with it.”

The social values are equally important.

He added: “It’s very easy to be shy and quite reserved as a kid growing up, everybody of any size, any background, can get together, beat each other up on the pitch - within the rules of the game of course - and get together afterwards.

“I have been brought up from a young age to perform as a team member, all through the sport of rugby.

“Having played every sport you can think of, rugby is by far the best in my opinion.

“ I recommend it to anyone who likes being physical and working as a team to achieve a win.

“I spend the majority of the week training hard with friends I’ve grown up with preparing for our opponents on a Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing rugby, there is a various mixture of feelings on and off the pitch, good and bad.

“The feeling of winning has to be the most satisfying, knowing that your hard work in training has paid off and seeing everyone’s morale lifted. Losing also has its place as it motivates you to work harder for the following week.”

When flying restrictions are lifted Balin, now 18, may pull on a more fitting shirt, as the lure of representing the Blacks and following in his father’s footsteps overwhelms him, as it did Shaun Burmah from New Zealand, son of another Northwich legend Chris Burmah.

Balin’s dad Paul played at Northwich 2000-02, forming a formidable lock-forward partnership with Chris.

Since emigrating Paul, now turning 51, has been playing rugby for Eastwood Rugby Club. He continues playing veterans rugby for the same club. His brother Brian also went to Eastwood for a season playing for their then Colts Academy in 1991-92, before returning to the UK to play at Northwich, where he still attends most Monday nights at Northwich walking rugby (once covid restriction is lifted).

Northwich player/coach Samuel Naylor also played at Eastwood Colts during his gap year in 2007.