The grandfather of two started playing over four decades ago but has no intention of stopping any time soon.
“Because of my age I just really appreciate still being able to play, it is an absolute privilege. I love the camaraderie and it is a great way to keep fit,” said Yiend. “The friends I’ve made over the years and current ones I have at my club is what keeps me going. My philosophy is just play as long as you can.”
In 1975 the average house price was £11,787; and England’s national side boasted names like: Brian Ashton, Bill Beaumont and Roger Uttley. It was also the year Yiend – aged 25 – was introduced to rugby, after a friend persuaded him to give it a go.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was enthusiastic,” he explained. “I started on the wing, because I could run a bit, and one day we were short in the pack so I volunteered to play wing forward. From that moment I knew it was the position for me.”
The rugby vet retired from his job as an engineer three years ago, and when he’s not packing down for Civil Service’s 2s, he can be found in the gym twice a week or walking his son’s dog.
“I do some circuit training and swim 12 lengths of the pool,” he added. “My old job used to keep me quite fit, so it is important for me to do this in between rugby now. The aches might take a bit longer to subside, but it is a small price to pay for the game I love.”
Yiend’s fondest memory was in his early forties, when Civil Service’s third team only lost five games in a season stacked with fixtures.
“A lot of people were saying I was too old to play even then,” said Yiend, who will celebrate his 68th birthday in December. “I had to prove something that season and I did.
“There are loads of things I can’t do now,” he said. “They throw me up in the lineout which I enjoy, and if someone wants to run straight at me I can tackle them, but if they want to go a yard either side not so much. When I’ve got the ball in my hands I’m happy to go two yards forward and pass to a youngster, I know my limits.”
Yiend’s love affair with rugby has been 42 years in the making, and although his family would prefer him to hang up the boots, he knows when it’ll be time to call it a day.
“I want to play for as long as I can and just take it week by week. My family think I’m daft, but know playing makes me happy, so they’re happy.”
Retiring from rugby doesn’t look likely for Yiend and even when the inevitable curtain call does come he won’t walk away easily.
“I couldn’t not be involved in rugby, I’d have to be a bag boy or something like that,” he added. “It would take a little while getting used to standing on the side of the pitch; that itch to play would still be there.”
Stephen Yiend might not be the fastest or fittest but his loyalty is inspiring, and longevity remarkable. After all, it’s what workhorses do – just keep going.