25th June 2019, 10:57 | masters
Out playing Masters, Ed Baldwin plays Masters like hundreds of other lads but as soon as you speak with him you hear that Ed's accent is not from the usual Rugby League areas but from London.
Born in Pimlico, just a long pass from the Houses of Parliament, Ed was involved in Association Football and ex plains his first memories of Rugby League are as a nine year old "on winter Saturday afternoons waiting for the football result listening to the dulcet tones of Eddie Waring describing 26 men rolling around in the mud."
Apart from a single game of rugby at Army basic training, Ed had no rugby experience.
Fast forward to 2008-2009, Ed was coaching football and playing some touch rugby in the summer, when sons Rory and Owen wanted to play sport in the summer and went to Medway Dragons Rugby League Club run by Martin Coyd O.B.E.
Within a year, Martin had persuaded Ed to help introduce Masters to Medway which meant Ed and his mates converting from touch to Masters!
At that stage, Ed was playing in red shorts and was really enjoying his Masters. Ed was instrumental in Medway Dragons Masters making the club's first ever tour with a weekend trip to Cardiff in 2011 to play a Masters mini festival where he met Carl Wilson from Leeds Masters which was the start of a long term relationship between the two Masters clubs.
Medway Masters travelled up to Leeds, "where the welcoming and hospitality were absolutely brilliant" and also up to Crosfields Masters (Warrington) the same summer.
2012 was a big year for Ed.
Early in the year he was diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in his lower back and hips, having a hip replaced that spring.
"I thought my rugby playing time was over," he admitted. Then in the middle of the year, Ed received a phone call to confirm he had been selected to play for England against the touring Australians in October and was able to play in Gold shorts!
"Just meeting up with all the lads, especially those from Leeds and Crosfields, seeing my shirt hung up in the dressing room, walking out with the Australians was brilliant.
"As someone who has proudly followed the England football team to tournaments in Europe, to play for your country and belt out the National Anthem was one of the proudest moments of my life!"
Ed is still playing, still organising and is the South Representative on the Masters Management Board.
"I am still very enthusiastic about Masters as Medway Dragons Masters celebrate our 10th birthday! Masters has enabled me to continue to throw a ball around with the protection of Gold shorts," Ed explained.
As Masters Rugby League grows in the South, Ed points out that the two new teams this year, Cardiff and Aldershot & Fleet, are both led by former Medway Dragons Masters (Chris Thomas and Steve Lowrie).
Ed is keen for others to try Masters Rugby League: "For me, involved in Association Football all my sporting life, I thought I had discovered Rugby League 30 years too late.
"But Masters Rugby League has given me the chance to go play," And Ed's message to others over 35 is simple: "Just get out there!"
The next Masters Festival is the Yorkshire Festival at Eastmoor on Saturday 13th July.