‘Slippery’ Profile of an Old Dub

Joined Wandsworth School in 1942 while it was evacuated to Little Firs in Woking, a beautiful old house with large grounds. Bill Forrester and Bob Hammond were ‘big boys’, as the saying goes. It was a real culture shock to come back to a real school building in Sutherland Grove, with playing fields on the same site, albeit on the same clay soil as Woodstock Lane, so my rugby style was settled at an early age. Vice-captain of the 1st XV for two years – Dave Horner was bigger and better than me – but I did play for Surrey Schools for 3 years.

I then read economics at Cambridge, after an interlude serving with HM forces, mainly in Egypt. I was commissioned into a vehicle company, so I spent most of my time riding around the desert on a motorbike or jeep – self taught! We kept the camels for the visitors.

Playing rugby with the OW’s has been an obsession, starting in 1946, cycling over to Kingston with Tom Boucher during the Xmas school holidays to play for the ‘Old Boys’ who had just reformed after the war. Played for the 1st XV for several years in the late 50s and early 60s, starting as a wing forward but converting to the front row to meet the fashion for mobile props and keep my place in the team. That only lasted a couple of seasons! From then on it was the lower sides until we formed the ‘Babes’, the 5th team which played enjoyable and satisfying rugby for 10 seasons culminating in an unbeaten season, over 500 points for and only 12 against.

I played regularly till 1990, and then very occasionaly until my 50th anniversary in an OW shirt in February 1997. Incidentally the nickname ‘slippery’ doesn’t refer to my silky jeremy Guscott style sidestep as I slipped out of the tackle, but to my ability to slip players into the Babes XV who weren’t available for the other sides. In those days selection meetings were open warfare. As Bob Paisley said about football “Life and Death?” No, it’s more important than that. On the admin side I took over the organisation of the Sevens tournament from Mike Burris and then replaced it with the veterans tournament. A spell as club secretary after the departure from Woodstock Lane kept me in touch with the young members of the club – Plum, Dennis, Phil … until I finally retired just over 3 years ago. But thank God the friendships not only remain, but deepen – see you all at my next birthday party.

On the domestic side married to Sally. Three children from my first marriage, and 6 grandsons at the latest count.

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