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Andrew McClintock back as surprise Southend substitute for Hartpury College defeat
AN ill-timed trip to the toilet led to Andrew McClintock coming out of retirement for Southend’s 23-7 defeat against league leaders Hartpury College.
The 35-year-old, who opted to hang up his boots at the end of last season, was at the game with his young children, when he was spotted by the club’s director of rugby Chris Green.
And that resulted in him playing the final 20 minutes of the National Two South match at Warners Bridge on Saturday.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up making an unexpected appearance,” said McClintock.
“The toilets at the ground are right next to the dressing room and Chris walked through with his head in his hands.
“He started off with ‘you’re welcome to say no’ and I knew then I was in trouble.
“I had to rush back home to get my boots and also had to make sure it was OK with my four-year-old daughter.
“I told her I wouldn’t be playing again so when I played a one-off game earlier on in the season she wasn’t very happy with me but she was fine with me playing at the weekend.”
But McClintock stressed he would not be returning to action on a regular basis, mainly because of his fitness levels which he feels are not up to scratch.
“After about five minutes I thought I was going to have a heart attack on Saturday so I dread to think what it would be like if I started a game,” said McClintock.
“I was thankful for the fact that it was quite muddy because that slowed things down a bit and everyone else was quite tired when I came on too, which helped.
“But, to be honest, if I had played much longer I think they would’ve had to have carted me off at the end of the game. It’s definitely not the start of a comeback and I think the moral of the story is to make sure I arrive a bit later to watch matches in future.”
Hartpury, who are 12 points clear at the top of the table, went in front at the weekend with a try from full-back Craig Jackson.
A Billy Burns penalty then extended their lead before another try from Steven Leonard made it 13-0 to the visitors at half-time.
After the break hooker Chris Fortey drove over the line and Southend suffered a further blow when hooker Marcus Bloomberg was sent to the sin bin.
A try from Jake Carter then made sure of a try-scoring bonus point for Hartpury, but the Seasiders had the final word when Danny Cleare touched down and Brad Burr added the conversion.
The defeat pushed Southend down to eighth in the table and they face another tough test at fourth-placed Ampthill this weekend.