Well-known Rugby sportsman and mathematician celebrates 90th birthday

(Submitted photo) Norman Kerruish and family for his 90th birthday.
(Submitted photo) Norman Kerruish and family for his 90th birthday.

A well-known sportsman and mathematician from Rugby has celebrated his 90th birthday with family.

Back in the day, Norman Kerruish was an eminent mathematician at British Thomson-Houston and a keen sportsman playing for Rugby Town in the 1950s and 60s.

Later, he was a low handicap golfer at Rugby Golf Club and, later still, he was a brilliant squash player for Rugby Stags. But that was just part of the story.

Norman was born just outside Wigan and went to the local grammar school, from where he gained a scholarship to Cambridge when he was only 17.

He studied maths and gained a first class honours degree, but he also played football for the university and was awarded two soccer Blues.

He was so good, that Wigan Athletic asked him to play for them when he returned home for the Christmas holidays.

On graduating, Norman joined BTH as an engineering mathematician, with much of his time spent teaching maths to engineering graduates at the local Tech on Hillmorton Road.

Marrying his childhood sweetheart Marion in 1950, they then had two children and settled in Barton Road. In 1959, he became head of the engineering mathematics department.

Norman continued with his football career, through playing for Pegasus after university and then for Corinthian Casuals, where he got the nickname of ‘Flash’ for his speed down the wing.

He would travel from Rugby by train for home matches in south London, despite regular travel sickness. He was a prolific goal scorer, with 101 goals in 258 matches for the club.

In 1956, the Casuals reached the Amateur Cup Final, where, in front of 80,000 spectators, Norman scored the equaliser against hot favourites Bishop Auckland, unfortunately losing the replay.

After his second child was born in 1958, Norman decided to stop commuting to London and joined newly-formed Rugby Town FC, where his speed and goal scoring continued.

Norman received two offers from London clubs, but the maximum wage of about £20 a week meant it wasn’t a viable option for Norman with a young family.

Norman left BTH in 1965 when he was appointed as Reader in Engineering Mathematics at what became Aston University, commuting daily from Rugby.

He became a Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Maths.

Taking early retirement after the untimely death of his wife, Norman then focussed on his golf and squash.

He had played squash for the university and Rugby Stags for some time and then played on until well into his 60s.

He is remembered as an “amazing player” and indeed he played three times in the over-55s section of the British Open Championships – his crowning glory being when he won a game from the great Hashim Khan in 1985.

Golf was always a mainstay in Norman’s life, enjoying many years playing to a high level, winning the major knockout three times and the club championship in 1967. He captained and played for the Mid-Warwickshire league team for Rugby and won the Warwickshire foursomes in 1978.

One member remembers that Norman’s “accuracy off the tee and his short game and putting were formidable”.

Although not in the best of health now, with dodgy knees after years of contact sports, he can still whizz round on a wheeled Zimmer, remaining true to his old nickname of ‘Flash’.