December 15, 2022 12.30 pm This story is over 16 months old

Ex-pro rugby star retiring as local firefighter talks about his glittering career

He even featured as an extra in a film starring Tom Hardy

A former professional rugby player from Scunthorpe, who once played against World Cup winner Jason Robinson and featured in a film with Tom Hardy, is retiring from his job as a local firefighter.

Mick Coult, 53, joined Humberside Fire & Rescue as a 21-year-old in January 1991 and will slide down his last pole when he calls time on his career at midnight on December 25, which is “my Christmas present to myself,” he said. After spending around two decades as a firefighter, he is ending his career in his current role of FDS Manager.

After a professional Rugby League career, including playing against famous names and a trip to Wembley, the dad-of-three continues to play Union and has made around 300 appearances in 17 seasons at Scunthorpe.

Mick Coult said he enjoyed featuring as an extra, alongside Tom Hardy, in Bronson.

Aside from his successful careers in rugby and the fire service, Mick also found time to appear as an extra when he played a psychiatric nurse in the 2008 film Bronson starring Tom Hardy. Mick said it was an interesting day of filming in Lincoln in an old house that was converted to look like Rampton Hospital, and it still gets referenced by his friends every now and then.

Although he is calling time on his firefighter career, Mick is not ready to finish playing rugby just yet. On Saturday, he will put on his boots once again for his ‘testimonial’ match for England Fire Service Vets away against Scunthorpe Vets at 12.30pm at his rugby home of Heslam Park for the ‘Burn Baby Burn, Disco Inferno Trophy’. The match is the prelude for Scunthorpe 1st XV’s home match against Heath RUFC (2pm).

Mick, who still plays when he can and coaches Scunthorpe’s Under-10s, told The Lincolnite: “It’s probably bringing my two loves together – the fire service and the rugby club – and wanting to share that. It will be a really good, social day and I’ve got friends travelling over from across the country.”

Scunthorpe’s 1st XV, including Mick, celebrating winning the league in the 2009/10 season.

Former 1st XV captain Tom Foster, who has played first team 500 league games for the club, enjoyed 10 years on the pitch with Mick.

He said: “When I started playing for the first team at 18, Mick was a senior member of the team playing inside centre. He was powerful, quick and really solid defensively. Mick was someone I looked up to and admired, not just because of his quality as a player but also his physical conditioning and how he was pushing the younger players in the team, even in his late thirties.

“He was ahead of the game in that respect and that’s something I tried to replicate during my career. Not only was Mick a top player but he is great fun off the pitch too, usually found with his top off on the dance floor somewhere! He is well liked throughout the club and deserves a long and happy retirement.”

Mick had the chance to play at Twickenham with Scunthorpe in 2010.

Scunthorpe’s Director of Rugby Tony Wilkinson said: “Coulty is a well treasured member of the rugby club community from a regular in the first team at centre and then later at flanker, his experience was fantastic both on and off the pitch.

“Coulty has helped coach our second team and the comments are only positive from everyone he played with. Mick chose the pro route with rugby league for a while and brought that professionalism back to Scunthorpe with him.

“He now coaches in the mini junior section and has a cohort of kids who love being coached by Mick.

“The work he does with the fire brigade can not be understated and the Humberside area will have been safer with him as a public sector worker.”

Mick now coaches the under-10’s at Scunthorpe (left) and is pictured running at the rugby club with his son Oscar (right).

Local and professional rugby career

After enjoying his rugby at junior level with Scunthorpe, Mick then started playing for Humberside Fire & Rescue’s team against other fire services from across the country.

In 1996, he went with Humberside to the Canada World Firefighter games to represent England in the 7’s, coming away as gold medallists after beating Australia in the final. He also won the national cup with the team in the early 90s.

Mick also represented England Fire Service and it was during this time that he got his big break and the chance to play professional Rugby League, but he still kept on his job as a firefighter at the same time.

Mick and his team from Humberside Fire & Rescue won gold in the Rugby 7s at the World Firefighter Games in 1996.

While representing England in a game against Wales at The Circle in Hull, Hull KR coach George Fairbairn was in attendance. He invited Mick for a trial and he later joined the professional club and made around 12 first team appearances over a season and a half.

One of his biggest moments at Hull KR came when Wigan had not long joined Wigan, who beat Brisbane Broncos in the 1994 World Club Challenge.

They then made the visit to Craven Park to face KR and Mick said he faced a team “laced with internationals”, including Jason Robinson, Martin Offiah, and a 17-year-old Andy Farrell. Mick was on the winning side after a 21-10 victory for Rovers.

Mick Coult in action during his time at Hull KR.

Mick said: “We beat them on the day and felt like kings. I always remember it saying next to me name (in the match report in the Hull Daily Mail) ‘who is Martin Offiah anyway?’, it always sticks in my mind.”

Mick then joined Doncaster Dragons where he head a really productive season, before David Plange signed him for Hunslet. During his time at Hunslet Mick got the chance to play at Wembley in the Silk Cut Plate Final against his former club Hull KR at Wembley in 1997.

Mick in action for Hunslet at Wembley battling against his former Hull KR team-mate Gary Atkins.

The game was an earlier kick-off and a prelude to the Challenge Cup Final between Bradford Bulls and Saint Helens, but he said a bomb scare delayed the game.

Mick said by the time his game kicked off half the stadium was full and it was a “totally different level of atmosphere”.

Mick’s memorabilia from playing at Wembley.

When he left Hunslet, he had a brief spell at Rochdale under Derek Fox during the summer, before going back to play Union with Scunthorpe in the winter. He returned to Doncaster for another spell in Rugby League before focusing on his Union with his local club.

He played first team rugby for Scunthorpe until he was 43, and during that time he won the National League on a couple of occasions, numerous NLD Cups, and also played at England’s national home of Twickenham in an RFU Cup competition.

Mick has worked for Humberside Fire & Rescue for over 30 years.

True team player

It’s not just his friends and team-mates full of praise for Mick. Phil Shillito, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, met Mick playing rugby in the early 90s and has worked with him for six years.

He said: “He embodies sport and firefighting in the same way as a team player. He is always looking at what he can do for other people rather than himself.

“Mick is an absolute professional…and really passionate about his co-workers and his colleagues, making sure their needs are met.

“Mick has also done lots of work with our retired members network, organising social events. It’s not just about his co-workers and current colleagues, his commitment to the fire service and former colleagues is top notch.

“I’d like to thank him for everything he’s done with the communities in the Humber area and wish him very well for the future. He will be missed by all his colleagues.

Mick pictured with his son Reece, now 21, after receiving an award for 30 years service at Humberside Fire & Rescue.

“He is always hard but fair on the (rugby) field and always looking to support his team-mates and it’s why he had such a successful rugby carer.

“I will certainly be there to celebrate his career and it would be great to have one last kick of the ball together.”

Caps awarded to Mick during his time playing fire service rugby.

Mick, who is a dad of three to Reece, Ellie and Oscar, added: “I think that’s probably one of the hardest things with finishing as when you work for an organisation for so long you’re part of the furniture.

“The camaraderie is one of the most important things in the fire service and you are a family. The support for each other is really important, always having that shoulder to be there for somebody and the special bond got us through crises.”

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