As the army swept into the neighbourhood, Tyronie Rowe heard people were dying in the streets and so he ran. He’d already seen two friends die, shot in the head, and, surrounded by gunfire, he ran for his life. His rugby team-mate was coming to get him and he was going to escape. Tivoli Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica, is a tough place to grow up. Out of a group of 11 close childhood friends, he’s the only one left. And, he says, that’s down to rugby.
To Tyronie Rowe, North Finchley is paradise. He doesn’t use those words, but near enough. Not that there’s anything wrong with North Finchley. The north London suburb in the borough of Barnet is perfectly fine. We meet Tyronie at Finchley Rugby Club – it’s your typical rugby club, the sort of thing you’d find in any town, village or city. Sandwiched between Wingate and Finchley Football Club on one side and the local tip on the other, a school next to that.
It’s survived World Wars, industrial collapse and royal insults, but Coventry has always shrugged its shoulders and got on with it. Its rugby club is no different. Once, only hours from extinction, it now turns over £1.6m, regularly pulls in crowds of over 2,000 (in the third tier), has internationals both playing and coaching, and has run away with the league title. And that’s before we mention UB40 and Steps.
Coventry rarely gets the credit it deserves, just ask Sam McNulty. “Not a lot of people know this, but the enigma code was cracked and they knew Coventry was going to get bombed because we were supporting the war by making tanks,” explains the Coventry-born backrower. “But they couldn’t evacuate the city because they’d have known we’d cracked it, so they let them bomb Coventry. We took a hit for the country. That’s the way Coventry rolls.”
This man could’ve been processing your driving licence. instead, he won grand slams, tamed the beast and has just finished the lego friends snow resort hot chocolate van – with a little help from Isla.
The box says ‘six to 12 years’ but with daughter Isla at the lower-end of that range, there’s a good chance dad has applied some of his own deft plastic brickwork skills to get the job finished on time. What looks like the foundations for a speedboat (or perhaps another motorhome, quite hard to tell) lies nearby – a job left for another day, perhaps. Construction projects are always infamously prone to delays.
Either way, while the two-bedroom flat in Guildford has Adam Jones’s name on the lease, it’s definitely Isla who has done most of the decorating – her artwork covers virtually every surface.