“THE club wouldn’t be where it is today without Raymond.”

This past week saw the sad passing of a true Yarnbury RFC legend. Former player and president of 70 years, Raymond Johnson, who was in his early nineties, died on Sunday morning.

‘El Presidente’, a name he was given after marching Yarnbury out on their first ever visit to the home of English rugby Twickenham in 2014, was the life and soul of the club.

Joining the Horsforth-based side in 1951, Raymond witnessed it all as he lived and breathed rugby, eventually retiring from playing the sport at the grand age of 75.

The former business consultant will forever be remembered for the role he played as president which lasted for 30 years.

One act he made in that time was initiating the formation of the junior section in the 1960s. He would be seen pitch side every Sunday cheering on each age group for the foreseeable.

His mantra of ‘eye to the thigh’ to tackle low and the creation of the club’s motto Omnes adferamus – which means let everyone contribute - will never be forgotten.

Chairman Phil Addy, whose father had been coached by Raymond, could not pay a higher tribute to the stalwart who meant so much to the entirety of the Yarnbury family.

He said: “There will only be one real president at Yarnbury, no matter what happens in life.

“He was an iconic figure. His whole rugby ethos was to let everyone play and enjoy the game. He was just a lovely man.”

Addy recalled a trip to Galway for his 40th birthday to highlight the measure of the man.

He added: “We took a vets team over to the Oyster Festival. Raymond came along and he was about 80 at the time.

“We played an old form of wrestling where you lie on your back, the two of you next to each other, and you lift your leg up and you have to pull the other person’s leg over.

“We were outside of a pub on the cobbled streets and Connacht's first team had been playing rugby and we got chatting to them.

“They knew how to play, and we said ‘we have got our champion here, do you want to put him up against one of your players? ‘Our first team hooker will play,’ they said.

“We marched Raymond out and their guy, who was built like a brickhouse, started laughing. He said, ‘I can’t do it against him'.

“Raymond replied ‘You get yourself on the floor young man and we will have a go’. He pulled the guy bolt upright, which is the way to win, and this guy was amazed.

“Raymond said ‘it was a little unfair because I had the advantage of the hill so we will swap around’. He pulled him bolt upright again. It was purely technique.

“The guys from Connacht marched him up the streets on their shoulders singing Raymond is our champion.

“People have been passing their condolences from all over the rugby world. He had a great life. His health had failed in the last month or two. It was upsetting.”

Condolences go out to Raymond’s family; Liz, Martin, Phillipa and Georgi at this difficult time in losing a father and grandpa.