Ken Birrell, former North Midlands president and a stalwart of the Camp Hill and Moseley clubs, has died aged 89.
He passed away in Solihull Hospital after a short illness although he had been in poor health for several years.
As a player Birrell was a combative back-row forward who took no prisoners. He adopted a similar approach to rugby administration which meant that he upset some people but earned the respect of many more.
Birrell, a product of King Edward’s Camp Hill School represented North Midlands, Greater Birmingham and Combined Birmingham Old Boys during a distinguished playing career.
He then turned to administration where he served Camp Hill as chairman. Birrell’s attention to detail and meticulous accuracy made him a successful match secretary for Moseley and North Midlands in an era when the introduction of leagues meant an increased burden on administrators.
Despite the age gap Birrell remained very much a players’ man and he is still regarded with great affection by the Moseley and North Midlands players he worked with.
Birrell took great pleasure in inviting Rupert Moon, then an uncapped scrum-half studying in Wales, to make his County Championship debut for North Midlands against Notts, Lincs & Derbyshire at Newark.
Although Moon had played his formative rugby for Walsall and he was brought up in the town, Birrell discovered that the future Wales scrum-half was born in a maternity hospital in Birmingham and, therefore, was qualified to play for North Midlands.
Birrell later had a spell as chairman of Moseley during which he brought some stability to the club at a difficult time.
He also served as North Midlands president for a year before he declined the option of a second year in office.
Throughout he remained an active member and loyal supporter of Camp Hill and also of Moseley Ashfield Cricket Club.
Birrell’s grandson, Tom Hardwick, is also a back-row forward who plays in Bromsgrove’s first team. Hardwick’s father Tim is a former Moseley and Royal Navy prop who is forwards’ coach at Bromsgrove.