Coup for Diss as Bedford stalwart Howard returns

FAMILIAR FACE: Mike Howard has returned to Diss. Picture: Nigel Rudgard
FAMILIAR FACE: Mike Howard has returned to Diss. Picture: Nigel Rudgard

After last appearing for the club in the 2005/06 season, Mike Howard is once again preparing to pull on a Diss RFC shirt.

Following his departure from Mackenders, Howard went on to spend two seasons with rivals North Walsham before getting his big break with Bedford Blues.

The second-row forward became a major fans’ favourite at Goldington Road, making more than 200 appearances and earning himself a testimonial with the current Greene King IPA Championship club prior to his summer departure for London Scottish.

However, his brief spell with the Richmond-based outfit is now over and Howard has opted to return to where it all started ahead of tomorrow’s trip to London League Division One North leaders Chingford (2.30pm).

Head coach Dave Smith, who previously worked with the 32-year-old at North Walsham, is suitably delighted to have such an experienced player at his disposal.

“He trained with us for the first time on Tuesday and we are really looking forward to having him involved,” said Smith.

“To have a guy that has played at such a high level, with all of the experience he brings, is massive for us.

“He is dropping down five or six levels from where he has been playing, but he just wants to enjoy his rugby.

“It is not every day a player of this calibre becomes available so we are really pleased.”

Howard will rejoin a team that is currently providing plenty of entertainment for those that attend their matches.

Only five sides can claim to have scored more points at this stage of the campaign than Diss’ return of 256, while the 342 points they have conceded up the other end is the second worst defensive record in the division.

Smith is eager to address the latter of those two statistics and believes Howard’s return can help to plug some of the leaks.

“With Mike’s experience, you would like to think that is going to instil some fortitude into the rest of the guys,” added Smith.

“The players are going to look up to him and hopefully act even more professionally than they already do.

“He has done it all and played for some big clubs, so when things get tight in our matches and it is in the balance, Mike can get us through those periods with his know-how.”