This brief eulogy was given by Kimm Connett at the Funeral of former Dulwich Hamlet player Rodney Brookes.
I am standing here now as the Chairman of the Dulwich Hamlet Former Players Association which was set up officially in December last year. We had an inaugural event where around 50 former players were in attendance. Players who had played for the club in the 1950s, right up to those in the current day. And I am pleased to say Rod was there in attendance.
Having played with Rod at Dulwich, as he was coming to the latter seasons of his distinguished career, I have very fond memories of the many car journeys we shared to and from training and to matches. And at that time it was under Alan Smith who was a very demanding and hard taskmaster. And it’s fair to say that we all, at some stage got the sharp end of his tongue lashings. Some more than most! Although at the time it was hard, It did bring together a fantastic team spirit and many happy memories of our time spent together.
We talked a lot as you would expect about football on those journeys, and as a young lad having just left Charlton Athletic to join Dulwich Hamlet, it was fantastic for me to be able to listen to and draw down on such a wealth of wisdom and knowledge. Particularly how you should conduct yourself and constantly strive to better yourself as a player and as a person.
Rod always led from the front and was a shining example to us all about how you should prepare and approach every training session and every game. He would never give anything less than 100% for the team and his teammates. On hearing the sad news of Rod’s passing, I received numerous email tributes and I would like to share a couple now to demonstrate the deep personal feelings that fellow teammates had for Rod.
My initial thought is of sadness and shock, I met Rodney in 1975, an Adonis and a true leader. I was so pleased to see him at our reunion in December. As a younger player at the club he was a man I admired. A true legend. Rod was such a gentlemen and a great stalwart for the club.
As a young man straight out of pro football, players of this calibre and experience in non-league took me under their wing and showed me what you needed to do to hopefully become a respected player in your team and in the league in general. I was lucky enough to play alongside Rod at full back in the odd games at first. When I eventually made it into the team I played at centre back alongside Rod. He was a giant in every way, and a gentleman on the field. I’ve never known him to go out and look to hurt anyone but he was as tough as old boots. In those days there were players at clubs who had reputations for hurting people. All teams had a big centre forward who would smash the centre halves around. Rod would come off with blood from a cut on his eye or nose, and then shake hands with the players as it was all part of the game.
I would like to announce that an annual Golf challenge match between former players of the two famous clubs – Dulwich Hamlet and Sutton United – that Rod played for, will take place this October. We have mutually agreed that as a tribute, and out of respect for our friend and teammate we will compete for The Rod Brookes Memorial Trophy.
Our grateful thanks to Kimm Connett for giving us permission to publish this piece in HH30.