Gerry Rea has done most things at Brothers Pearse since he first became involved with the club in 1969.
Currently the club’s treasurer, he was captain of the side which claimed the senior title in 1972 and which went on to All Britain success, and also skippered the London hurling team which beat Galway in an All Ireland quarter-final the same year in 1973.
He famously lined up against his brother Ned in the semi-final. Ned was playing full forward for Limerick, and Gerry full back for London.
A former chairman of the club, but has done just about everything to keep the Pearses going over the years, from putting players up in his house to looking after the kit and fixing hurleys. Gerry has done it all.
“It’s just what you do to keep everything going. It’s things everybody does,” says Gerry, matter-of-factly. “When you’re with a club you give it 100 per cent – there’s no point being half committed.”
Founded in 1920, Brother Pearse is London’s oldest existing club, and Saturday promises to be another historic day in an already rich history.
London champions in 1998, Brothers Pearse made its first and only Club Championship appearance that year against Down’s Ballygalget, having beaten Sean Treacys seven points to win a first senior county title since 1972.
It was the Down side which came out on top, however, by 1-9 to 0-4 at Ruislip.
“It was exciting when we played Ballygalget, but we never kicked off in the game. It didn’t work out on the day and we got beat,” recalled Gerry.
“We didn’t perform very well on the day, but we were missing a few players and we were without a game for five weeks after winning the championship. Fellas got stale and they lost of bit of interest in hurling because we didn’t have a match.
“1998 was still a massive year for the club. We had a very good side and beat a very good St Gabriels team in semi-final. PJ Horgan (captain) was exceptional.”
Nineteen years on, Gerry’s looking forward to the visit of the Leinster champions on Saturday, and says Pearses’ are hungry for more despite already having the London Intermediate and All Britain titles in the bag.
“It’s been a long wait for the club to get back into the Club Championship, but that’s life. We had some very lean years but we never threw in the towel,” he said.
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s a bonus. What’s important is keeping a club like Brothers Pearse going, because a lot of good clubs have fallen by the wayside like the Brain Borus.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday. We beat a very good Warwickshire team [John Mitchels] in the All Britain semi-final and that was a big boost to the club, and then Fullen Gaels in the final. That was a feather in our cap.
“This year the hunger is there more than ever. Hopefully the players will get their reward on Saturday. They’ve really put the effort in and it won’t be for the lack of trying.”