I can still just about remember my very first Sale Sharks game. I remember being stood, a shade under 7 years old, with my father at the terraced end of Heywood Road next to a group of zealous but good natured Northampton fans who spent my first 80 minutes of watching professional rugby intermittently signing "Oh When The Saints (Go Marching In)".
That, however is where my memories end. I don't remember the score (although the Sale archives tell me it finished 24-21 in Sale's favour), nor who played, scored or even what colour kits the teams wore.
So what's the relevance to Mark Cueto?
Mark Cueto's retirement following the conclusion of the 2014/15 season at age 35 represents, for me at least, something resembling the end of an era. For although I was not aware of it on that Friday night in August 2002, nor for many of my first years as a Sale season-ticket holder, too young or absent-minded to pay attention to exactly who was on the field, Mark Cueto, the Cumbrian winger who made his debut for Sale against Bristol in 2001 and was a Shark up until his final, 303rd appearance for the club last month in Exeter, had been one of the few ever-presents in my thirteen years following Sale Sharks rugby club.
Cueto, in a sense, embodies everything I've ever experienced as a Sale fan. From the elation of winning a Premiership final, to the disastrous, injury-ravaged 2006-07 season that followed, to the final season at Edgeley Park and the up-and-down, shifting fortunes Sale have had since uprooting from Stockport and moving to Eccles and the AJ Bell stadium - Cueto has always been there with a Sale shirt on his back.
And although the prospect of seeing Sale take the field once again to begin the 2015-16 season in October is a beacon of excitement in an otherwise barren, rugby-less summer (let's ignore the upcoming Rugby World Cup for a moment), it will be bittersweet not seeing Mark Cueto, a cult figure of Sale Sharks history, not running out with the team.
Mine is a sentiment that I am obviously not alone in holding. One need only look at the outpouring of support, well-wishing and tributes the rugby community sent the way of 'Frank' once official confirmation came that this year would be his last as a rugby player, to see how well-respected and appreciated Cueto was not only by Sale fans, but by English and worldwide rugby as well.
A British and Irish Lion, an England international with 55 caps to his name, a World Cup final try scorer (regardless of what Stuart Dickinson thinks), a Premiership champion, the Premiership's all-time top try scorer with ninety tries to his name and perhaps most impressive of all - a devoted one-club man for the entirety of his fourteen-year career in an era of professionalism where rugby took a more money-focused turn - Cueto's accomplishments are simply that of legend and the services he provided for both Sale Sharks and English rugby are insurmountable. For fourteen years Cueto gave everything he had to the game of rugby and he can look back on a glittering career that will be forever remembered, be it for the dramatics in Paris, the try-scoring exploits or the admirable loyalty he showed to his first club over a decade and a half.
There are very few players in the modern game who truly fit the definition of a legend - either for their club or country - but Mark Cueto, who for so long was a continual presence in mine and so many other Sale fans' rugby lives, has truly earned that status.
Enjoy retirement, Frank.