Size does Matter

When I first started playing at Askeans the physical differences between a lot of the forwards and most of the backs was not that great.

 

Sure we had props like Chas and Terry Phipps who out- weighed the threes by a fair bit, but many of the locks and back row were not that much bigger than some centres and even wings. This was not because we had three quarters who were built like Jonah Lomu or George North (unfortunately) but our pack was not as big as those of today.

 

I’ve put some photos up in earlier posts and at first glance it isn’t all that obvious as to what positions we played (by size I mean – obviously those of us numbering 10 and up are the much better looking ones).

 

Mark Baxter and his brother Paul were almost the exact same build but Mark was a wing or centre and Paul was in the second row. I don’t think Johnny Ray who partnered Paul at lock was much bigger than me – he was patently tougher as I would no more go near the forwards than vote Tory. Having said that I did once, to my shame, go on a football tour with the Young Conservatives – like I’ve said so often here – I’ll tell you about it sometime.

Declaring my political views probably isn’t too smart as I need the readership (maybe they won’t care in Oman and Brazil)

 

If you look at the photo I posted with Bert (1st XV 67/68) you’ll see that Sammy Stevens (our scrum half) could easily pass for a front row and Graham could more than likely get in a boy band. I’d like to think I could too (boy band not prop) although my front black tooth might be a bit of a hindrance when you have to grin like an idiot whilst nancying about in sync with the other band members!

 

The other noticeable thing is that we didn’t have anyone who was much more than 6 foot tall!

 

Despite these physical limitations we still did pretty well in the 60s and 70s – primarily because many of the opposition were of a similar size and (thankfully) not as talented as most of our lot.

 

There were exceptions of course – St Luke’s and Loughborough always seemed to have some hefty blokes when we played them – John Bevan, Bryan West, Fran Cotton being the most famous.

 

In the West Country the prevalence of tractor drivers and farm hands always seemed to ensure that they were physically more impressive – even if they did smell a bit! The same was true when we ventured down to Wales a couple of times a year.

It wasn’t just that they were stockier – the sides to the far west of London also had a language all of their own – a sort of simian grunt that was both intimidating and inevitably made it difficult to work out their line out calls.

You did wonder sometimes if the local zoo wasn’t missing a couple of gorillas!

 

There were two local sides that both featured teams made up entirely of what looked like prop forwards. Westcombe Park and Beckenham must have had a rather strange recruitment policy which dictated that you had to be shaped like Square Bob Sponge Pants in order to play for them.

And in case you’re wondering I do have a granddaughter – she prefers Dora the Explorer but does have a Square Bob book – that’s how I know!

 

Anyway when you played either of these clubs you had to check on the back of their shirts to see what position they played – by the look of most of them they also needed an L and an R on their boots (a couple probably warranted the same on their socks).

 

I’m not too sure when it all started to change and the trend to the monsters of today started. I know that by the 1977/78 season we had managed to get some blokes who stood head and shoulders above the rest of us (and had probably had less dandruff as well).

 

I’ll post that team photo as well as one from 1968/69 so that you can see the difference in stature of the teams. Sorry to disappoint but you won’t be able to see my black tooth as I remembered to keep my trap shut for the photos (something the rest of the team had been wishing for all season no doubt).

 

John Long and Alex Mitchell added both bulk and height to the forwards whilst Paddy looked more like a prop than Vic or Sean. The strange thing was that Paddy never used his chunky frame to make breaks – he was deceptively elusive and had a wicked side step. Whilst his opposite number shaped up to stop a  bullocking run, Paddy neatly left him grasping in vain as he danced through on his way to the try line. When we went open we were also fortunate to recruit a front row of Tom Hennessey, Steve Peet and Kieran Hurley – they were all very chunky (and played like him too!)

 

In the 80s Askeans recruited aggressively and we enjoyed fielding a number of guys who were big physically and in terms of reputation – these included Jeff Probyn, Paul Rendall, Rob and Blue Cheval as well as Tony Bond and Stewart McKinney.

 

To be fair it wasn’t just at our level where players were of normal build – Alistair McHarg and Bill Beaumont were no giants by today’s standards – although both punched well above their weight (that isn’t necessarily just a boxing analogy either). In those days at an International match the camera just sort of panned along the teams as they were being introduced to some RFU knob – now the poor sod with the camera has to bob up and down as he wanders along the line.

 

When Jonah Lomu pitched up at the 1995 world cup – he made a massive (sic) impact – Will Carling described him as a freak after he had almost single handedly destroyed England’s chances – and from the wing at that!

 

The game then went professional and now no one thinks it unusual that the three quarters often weigh in at over 17 stone and run the 100 metres in not much above 10 seconds.  George North and Sonny Bill are not only huge but are highly skilled and can as easily run round opponents as over the top of them (which they can also do to great effect as well). The wonderful thing about rugby is that ,despite this relentless move towards greater physicality, the game can still benefit from sheer talent – as Shane Williams and Jason Robinson proved every time they put on their boots.

 

At Askeans we had Hickey and Mini Powell – both smaller than most but who always shone on the field and were never intimidated by bigger opponents (unlike myself)

 

The increasing use of technical experts in nutrition, conditioning and recovery plus the time to work out extensively in the gym means that the professionals today are bigger, fitter and stronger than ever before. The sad corollary, of course, is that debilitating injuries from heavier collisions and strains on joints and muscles means that we are getting more and more players having to retire early.

 

I didn’t even use conditioning on my hair so I managed to play well into my 40s – although many of my team mates (and Terry) probably wished that I’d jacked it in sooner!

 

As odd as it might seem to those who know me – I was never worried about facing a bigger bloke opposite me in the centre. I learned very early that it was pointless trying to hurt a lump running at me – so I simply let them run onto my shoulder and then hung on for dear life to anything I could get hold of – occasionally this might involve grabbing their studs between my teeth.

 

Surprisingly this method worked more often than not and was even successful against blokes like David Burcher, John Bevan and Arthur Lewis. It might have been like being tackled by a dead sheep and I don’t suppose they even got  sore knees – but mostly they didn’t get past me either.

 

There was however one bloke who I had real trouble with – Nigel Wray – from Millhillians and a county player. He’s now better known as the multi-millionaire owner of both Saracens and a particularly impressive array of sporting memorabilia.

 

He wasn’t much bigger than me and not any faster – but he had a really effective side-step. This wouldn’t normally have been a problem as it is easily possible to guide a runner onto your shoulder even when they change direction. The forward movement brings them on and often it hurts your shoulder less (always a benefit) as their speed has slowed.

 

But he didn’t have a normal side-step – which is diagonal – amazingly he could move to his right at 90 degrees to the direction he was going. This left me grasping at thin air (which is where he should have been) and toppling forward in a most undignified manner – the bastard then casually stepped past me.

 

The first time I played against him he did this at least twice before Bush moved into the centre with me and sent Paddy back to full back. Bush told me to push him outside to the right by leaving no room inside me.

 

The next time they ran at us Bush clattered him just as he thought the gap would open up again. Bush was almost certainly off side at the time but it had the desired effect. From then on we moved forward as a line (all off-side) but restricting the room for the use of the clever and unusual side-step.

 

Although he probably made at least one more break in the match I didn’t look such a lemon in the second half thanks to Bush using his considerable bulk to suggest that he should pass it.

Nevertheless it was an effective move and I can’t understand why he hasn’t spent time teaching Brad Barrett to do it.

 

With the seemingly never ending quest to make players fitter and stronger you have to worry about the long term effects on their bodies as well as the ever present danger that their careers will be cut short. You just hope that as more emphasis is placed on sheer size that there will always be room for players of all sizes – the game would be poorer if there were fewer opportunities for guys like Shane, Jason and (obviously) myself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lift Engineers

A few posts ago I mentioned the 3D Ronald McDonald that got ‘lifted’ from the Haymarket restaurant and took pride of place at Askeans Clubhouse in Kidbrooke for some time.

 

At the time I credited this magnificent trophy win to John and Steve Gilbert and Pete Askew. I was wrong and I want to put the record straight.

 

A couple of days ago John kindly took the time and trouble to visit us in the wilds of Minchinhampton (no really – that’s where we live now!). I know it sounds like something out of a Beatrix or Harry Potter book but we do really live at the bottom of the magic oak tree by the wobbly dum dum bush. Let’s see what they make of that in Oman!

 

We had a great day with John catching up on old times and he promised to send me the real story of his Mac Attack. Here it is – in John’s own words –

 

 

When Macdonalds opened their first flagship ‘cholesterol dispensary’ in The Haymarket, I noticed the hand painted 8′ x 4′ Ronald Macdonald screwed to the wall. I said that Steve Walker and I would remove it and bring it to Yates’s Wine Lodge behind Claridges next to Trident Television where I wreaked havoc for a few months as a trainee. Bushell and many waited on the following Friday in the Wine Bar knowing that Gilbert was doomed to fail.

 Gilbert and Walker arrived in a white van and parked on a double yellow in the Haymarket, bang outside Mac’s. I had a clip board and we were both dressed in white boiler suits. Steve followed me with a ladder and screwdrivers. The wooden Ronald it was screwed in 10′ above the floor. I asked for the manager. I said it was nice to see him again and that he needn’t worry. I asked him if he had heard from head office. As we spoke Steve W was climbing the ladder and undoing the first screw, with by now a large audience. I said his job was safe but a mystery customer had spotted that Ronald was painted in the wrong colours. He paled and asked if he could help; I asked him if he had a ladder in the storeroom and he duly obliged. He and another member of staff helped us load Ron into the back of the van. The manager asked me if we would like a meal, but I said that we were both vegetarian………… Movingly I remember him waving as we drove off into the evening rush hour.

We returned to Yates’s taking off our boiler suits revealing the underlying pinstripes. Walking into an awaiting baying throng, we looked suitably sheepish, bought drinks and sat down saying nothing. The jeering mob rose to a crescendo and taunted us. We let them stew and then said perhaps they would like to look in the van…….


 I know Ron took pride of place for some years in the clubhouse chez Kidbrooke.

 It was Gilbert and Walker what done it Guv.

 

 

Brilliant or what? I saw Steve at John’s 60th birthday earlier this year – I wish I’d known about his involvement then I’d have shaken his hand! Well, actually I did shake his hand but that was to say hello not to acknowledge his role in the affair with Ronald!

 

My closest involvement in a ‘lift’ is poor by comparison but I’m going to reveal it anyway as this message is really far too short for me to post yet.

 

In the early 2000s I went ski-ing several times with a crowd from Taunton RFC where Harro had played later in his career and was now coaching. At the time Harro and Jools were partners with Chris Brown and Terry and I in a health club just outside Taunton. A couple of hard tennis courts had been added to the facilities of the club (bear with me this is relevant) and were nearing completion.

 

Those on this particular trip included John Boy, Jonesy and his wife Sam, Nigel and Loz, as well as Fi, Victoria and Karen. We travelled down to Meribel in a mini- van loaded with all our luggage and a fair amount of ski gear.

 

You probably think this sounds a bit crowded – and you’d be right on the money – think black hole of Calcutta! (only with less sanitation)

 

Having said that the journey both ways was brilliant – I don’t think we stopped laughing (or drinking) for most of the way – well except when it was your turn to drive. You weren’t allowed a beer until you’d done your stint behind the wheel or up front navigating. Obviously the smart thing to do was to get this over as soon as possible – and somehow most of the blokes managed this before we got off the ferry in France!

 

We had a brilliant week and there are a lot of stories that can be told (and might be at some point – although I am aware I keep saying that so who knows if I’ll ever get round to it).

 

Back to the point of this – each day we had to drive up from the Chalet to the lower slopes to get the cable car to the ski area. On the way we passed a posh house that had its own tennis court – more importantly it had a full sized umpire’s chair which sat proudly next to the net chord.

 

Obviously we decided that it would look far better in Taunton between the brand new tennis courts and without being used by someone with the sort of stupid French accent that featured in the ‘Holy Grail’ (Monty Python not the mythical chalice).

 

On one of the all -day drinking sessions up the mountain we decided to acquire the chair on the final evening and to take it home with us. I don’t think anyone was actually thinking since the van was already overloaded and John Boy had thoughtfully purchased several cases of wine for the arduous journey home.

 

Come the last night we were walking unsteadily back from a local wine bar and came to the posh gaff. Harro, Nigel, Jonesy, John Boy and I were deep in discussion behind the wall as to how we might achieve our objective. As we were formulating our brilliant and audacious plan we noticed Karen and Victoria jogging past down the road carrying the chair between them.

 

It was a very funny sight – especially as these girls were senior tutors at upmarket private schools at the time and are now, I believe, Head Teachers!

 

We were still laughing when we got back to the chalet and congratulated the girls on their success – I still remember Victoria looking at me with a perfectly straight face and saying “Oh we’ve pinched much bigger stuff than this!”

 

We then spent much of the night trying to unscrew the chair with broken scissors (although they weren’t broken when we started) in order to get it in the van for the journey home.

 

When we left the next morning we passed the posh house but refrained from hooting and jeering (an Askean trait recorded in the ‘Runners and Riders’ post) and simply laughed a lot!

 

We stopped at a service station in France on the way back and it was only a heavy chain (and the lack of room) that prevented the two girls from adding a life size bear to their trophy collection. Thank god we didn’t have a set of wire cutters with us!

 

The umpire’s chair was duly unveiled at the health club when the courts were declared open by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graff (no – of course not! – Harro cut the ribbon – or would have done if we’d bothered to find one)

 

I told you it wasn’t as good a ‘lift’ as John and Steve’s but it was funny and actually quite practical – or would have been if we had ever been able to get someone who was impartial enough to umpire!

 

 

 

WTF?

I Haven’t been writing this blog for long – or indeed anyone in particular – in fact the only Long I know is John a lock from Loughborough Colleges who played for us for a few years! He was appropriately named as he was 6 ‘ 5 “ tall. So, I haven’t been writing it exclusively for John but naturally it’s more than okay if he wants to read it. I’m glad that’s cleared that up!

Anyway it’s been just a couple of months now and although I e-mailed a number of Askeans with the link (in the tiny hope that one of them had become, or knew, or knew someone who knew, or knew someone who knew someone who was sleeping with a publisher), I never expected to get a great deal of interest – in the blog much less getting published. Unsurprisingly, that pessism has broadly lived up to those justifiably low expectations.

I guessed that a few might read it before deciding that I had finally become completely unstable. I thought I might be able to count on close family, some Askeans who were concerned that I might mention them – or more accurately some of the things we did back in the day (and also quite recently in some cases) and a few others who had nothing better to do.

I also surmised that some unsuspecting souls might stumble across the site whilst looking for dating sites that specialise in old men – plus of course anyone mis-spelling Arse Keen whilst surfing for porn.

So – you can imagine my surprise when I took a look at the stats that they so kindly supply when you do one of these tech type things. It tells you how many views you’ve had and where in the world these people live. I have no idea why they do this but it makes quite interesting reading (which is more than can be said for the blog)!

I’ve clocked up well over a thousand views but more laughably it’s been read (or at least some of it has) in 16 different countries! Suck on that Bill Gates!

Of course I can explain a lot of the visitors – UK obviously, likewise Australia (where Rich, Silvie and Annalia reside). We also have good friends in the States (Lynda and Dick in Philadelphia and Terry’s sister Jacky and her husband ‘Norm’ in Montana). Whilst Jacky may understand some of the narrative as she knows a fair bit about the Askeans, I imagine it’s a bit like trying to understand Fermat’s theorem or how to boil an egg for the others!

I can probably make a stab at Spain (Terry’s friend Jane), Cyprus (Steve Gilbert), Portugal (Airdy and Lynda) and Holland (Lell was there recently for a long weekend and has the blog on an app). I guess other European countries are not that unusual either – those that play rugby anyway – so that takes out France, Italy and Ireland.

That leaves Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and Poland – where some visitors are coming back quite often – I have no idea what they think when they peruse it (or even if they can understand some of the colloquialisms – mind you many of the Askeans will likely struggle there – including me). Maybe they’re interested in drinking games and how to eat glass – god knows why but they do have long winters in these places and I imagine German & Polish TV isn’t much of a laugh. Any distraction might help I should think!

But at least they are in Europe and being smarter than us they probably can all get by in English – again more than can be said for a lot of us from New Cross.

However – Oman and Brazil? What the fuck do they make of this rubbish?

I accept that my sense of humour may be a bit unusual and I’m not sure how well it travels – it struggles to get as far as my front door most of the time according to Airdy and he used to live next door. Do you think that’s why he moved?

Nevertheless I’m grateful, to all those who have visited and read some of the blog and hope that they’ll continue to come back (especially anyone who is having a sexually deviant relationship with that elusive person in printing – obviously I mean as a publisher not doing something kinky with a bottle of Quink)

To all those who turned up here by accident – welcome to the mad world of Askeans. When I was in the team (and mostly because I was) the rugby wasn’t always much to write home about (nor is this scribble either) but the laughing was pretty much non-stop.

And (to those nice people in Oman and Brazil) if you don’t know what the fuck this is all about you might want to start in the archives when all this began and where I explain why we were always ‘Running Over the Rockery’

One final thought – if you do know someone who flogs books for a living (sorry to go on about it but I have bills to pay you know) then let them know toot sweet – as I’ve also got a novel, a couple of plays and some short articles that can be available at a very discounted price (or even less to be honest)

That’s it for today guys – tomorrow I have a really good Askean story for you – courtesy of John Gilbert.

You see what I did there don’t you – a tease to bring you back in the morning – the promise of something from somebody who is almost certainly a better writer than me!

No wonder I was in advertising! (having said that I wasn’t much good at that either)

A Rival Blog?

I’m having a lot of fun writing this stuff – almost certainly a lot more than the poor sods reading it.

Of course I’d prefer it if some simple minded publisher turned out to be interested – if by chance you know of one, please pass on the link with a ringing endorsement (probably best not to mention the simple minded bit though).

 

Anyway quite a few Askeans (and indeed some others) have been in touch by e-mail, text and phone to comment (and often correct) the missives in the various posts. The corrections have been to both content and apparently my appalling punctuation and grammar. Cheers Bob (Noble) in case you were wondering who, amongst the Askeans, managed to get an English ‘O’ level (obviously it wasn’t me)

 

Nearly all of the comments have been positive – Askeans are an easy lot to please I guess.

 

Amongst others I’ve heard from Jimmy, Phil (Amato), Phil (Diggens – from Brocks), Farrelley, Black Alex, Brom, Frankie (Briggs), Harro, Dave (Evans), Kev (Burnett), Maggie (Betts), Ben & Brenda, Johnny (Gilbert), Pete (Askew) and Butch (Campbell). Airdy has also taken the piss a fair bit – but then it’s easy for him as we live right next door to each other (and that’s another story)

 

But the most prolific has been Kev, who has generously contributed a number of memories of his own playing days at Askeans. There’s almost enough for him to start his own blog!

 

In earlier posts I mentioned how Kev played for England schools and how he was moved from the wing to number 8 when he had a growth spurt (not a euphemism)

 

I have produced below some of our e-mail exchanges in the hope that you’ll enjoy his memories as much as I have. I haven’t corrected any of the spelling or punctuation errors in either Kev’s or my e-mails (perhaps Bob will oblige!)

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 21 August 2013 12:19
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More blog!

 

Hello Dave,
                  I have nearly finished your last blog and I thought I ought to write to congratulate you on your copy. Once I began I could not stop but after an hour of chuckling and nodding in agreement I was told to stop by “her indoors” as we have to do something then I cannot find where I got to next time and have to reread it again. Can I thank you for including me in your !st fifteen, I am flattered but I was surprised to be included as a lock. This must be the reason that Brian asked me, out of the blue, at the beginning of this year in an email if I considered myself a lock? My answer to him and to you is definitely no! The reason for this answer are manyfold but basically evolve around the following:-
                  Playing at lock meant that your basic function was to win the ball with all the necessary soppyness of punching, barging and general handbags stuff that is quite tiring and usually means that you end up down the local infirmary when you should be having a few beers after the game. Now the converse was true whilst playing at no8. In this position I felt right at home especially peeling off the back of a scrum with either the ball in hand or intent to do harm to one of the opposition. I can recall one game against Penarth when our backrow had got everyone of the opposition backs hobbling. At a lineout their captain walked up the line urging his pack to do harm to our no8 (that was me) and my response was to ask our locks (Jimmy and Les) for supprt. The outcome was that we won the game and I paid another visit to the Brook. I can recall another game that same season and the opposition was Brockleans. At half time their captain asked our captain to “call off the dogs”. Our backrow that game was Tommy Eaglesham myself and Graham Evans and I do not know how tommy became available for that game but it was as if we were in the school 1st team again everything just slotted together. I think it was about 1975 and Brocks were no slouches around that time so I considered that one of my finest rugby moments to be asked to calm down by them.
                  I played my first season for Askeans at lock in 1969/70. Our first game was against Newbury. Their captain was the openside wing forward as was ours, namely Chunky Hunt. They went through the formalities of tossing and deciding ends and shook hands. Unbeknown that was about his only invovement. The  kickoff was put into our 25 (yes we were still in imperial measurements) yd line and as we ran across the pitch Chunky punched his opposite number, also their captain, straight in the face. The punched player swore loudly, thus gaining the attention of the ref and promptly punched Alan back. The ref was having none of that malarky and duly sent the player he saw punching off. This created mayhem on the touchline and I seem to recall there was a few deep all around the pitch and the pattern of the game had been set. It was carnage with no quarter given. My memory seems to tell me we won the match that day but not many friends and I paid my usual visit to the local infirmary-Newbury General that evening for a few stitches to the head. It was nice of that bloke to cut me as he did as I still use the scar to find my parting in my hair, how precise can a kick get! Hull and East Riding was a memorabal game as well that same year. First Tony Duchane was not fast to board the train leaving Euston platform so we were lent a third team hooker who had played that morning to replace. Their team included 3/4 of yorkshire’s team that year and an international at fly half who wore white cotton gloves (I do not make this up) We had Steve Dunmore in a dirty shirt. Paul Baxter worked out the lineout before the game, it boiled down to he would have the big one in the lineout so I could have the small one.That was his consideration to youth. The game commenced and they promptly scored down our blindside, past the third team hooker, making it 3 points down after 2 mins. Graham, Alan and Sammy must have used every bit of rugby nounce that day as we won by 6- 3. My little one turned out to be 6ft 7in so I do not know how big the big one was. I spent all the game barging into this bloke in the lineout and somehow he took offence at my behaviour. I do not know why but suddenly he wanted to get to know me better by rearranging my facial features with his fists, all this in front of the ref as well, who when I looked affronted to him told me to get on with the game. This meant one thing to a young impressionable lad like me – Open Season. Nothing was outside what was given and taken that day and again I visited Hull infirmary when I should have enjoying our unexpected ( by them ) victory.
                 I could go on and on about this stuff but the game I recall beyond all others for brutality was Lusaka. This was the fixture when Ian Lunn was nearly scalped (I thought that was north americans not africans). This game must be recalled for sheer savagery.We must have upset them as they played as if their children’s lives depended on it. I think they won the game but it was played in such a brutal way that that is all I can recall of the actual game.
                 It is absolutely true that friendships forged in those years are enduring and permanent. When we met up so recently it felt that so natural to pick up where we left off. It is a quality that is indefinable and immeasurable. I did not set out to come out with all this stuff it has just flowed out.
                 Please give my love to Terry and hopefully we will have a reason to meet up without a funeral.
                                                             Love from Angela and Kevin

 

 

From: David Shute [mailto:davidshute@outlook.com]
Sent: 21 August 2013 13:52
To: ‘Kevin Burnett’
Subject: RE: More blog!

 

 

Kevin hi,

 

Great to hear from you and many thanks for your kind words. I am having a good deal of fun writing it and try to add a post each day – there is certainly a wealth of ideas from our playing days!

 

The reason I put you in at lock was because I felt I couldn’t  leave either Des or yourself out and as he never played second row, but you sometimes did – then I’m afraid you got 5 instead of 8 on your back!

I remember the Hull and the Lusaka games – Chunky was skipper at Hull and I think Dunky must have been at fly half (especially as Sammy played) – Dunky told me afterwards in the bar that Chunky had grabbed him before kick- off and told him he didn’t care whether he hit the International fly half early, late or indifferent as long as he hit him every time he even looked at the ball. Dunky said he did that all afternoon because he was more scared of chunky than the international. I don’t remember the white gloves though.

 

I don’t remember the savagery against Lusaka – I think I have the programme somewhere I’ll try and dig it out. We also played another African touring side – Nchanga – did you play against them?

 

Kev – if it’s alright with you I’d like to put some of your e-mail in a future post – I’ve copied and pasted some comments  from Phil Amato and Jimmy plus one from Brian. I think it’s good to add stuff from other Askeans – esp. when it proves that I’m not making all this stuff up!

 

Stay in touch and let’s try and get to the dinner next year,

 

Love to Angela

 

Dave

 

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 22 August 2013 12:22
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More memories for the blog

 

Hello Dave,
                  I can assure you that fly half at Hull at White Gloves and Dunky was opposite him in his dirty shirt. I can also recall that Graham kicked a late drop goal to win the game for us, as by this time we let them punch themselves out (just like Mohamed Ali with George Foreman) and they had nothing left. I also recall going to Torquay Athletic but this time we got quite a pasting. Did you play in that game? I also remember visits to Edwardians and Rugby FC. The latter is memorable for the following. As Dunky most eloquently put it we were all more afraid of Chunky than the opposition. I shall paint a picture for you there I am at the bottom of a maul and I am laying in an extremely prone position, on my back, still trying to hang on to the ball. Over me steps this massive bloke, one of their props, and gently places his right boot on my kisser. He almost whispered these words, for which I have been truly thankful for the rest of my life, “let the ball go sonny!” As you tell from my visage I thankfully obliged but please do not let Chunky know.
                I find it very strange the types of things you can recall from the various matches played. One game I played in a opposition player kept foaming at the mouth. I mean not just a few bubbles but a veritable foam bath of saliva around his lower face. This was a time in my playing career with Olney when I would run out in an extra A team to impart my knowledge to a bunch of youngsters or has beens to work up a good thirst for after the game. Well as you can imagine me and this bubbly bloke became better aquainted at the bottom of a ruck and I used the bloke from Rugby technique and whispered in his ear “cut out the bubbles or you will have some more of this” and promptly hit him as hard as I could in the face sending his bubbles all over the place. There were no more foaming at the mouth after that and as I recall the ref thanked me after game as he could not find a way to penalise this bloke.
                Another piece of retribution I think you should include concerns Brian during our trip to Holland with the school. Dave I must correct you as we played Hilversum rugby and the the Impalas (the dutch national team) who were made up of mainly Hilversum players plus another 4 or 5 players from other clubs. But let us be fair here there were few rugby clubs then in Holland but these guys were representing their country so were internationals. Anyway back to my story. The game was in the last quarter and we were 2 points adrift, again we never lost in 4 seasons of visiting them. Some infringement had halted the game and we were about to scrum down. Brian swivelled from his position at prop and tells his pack “don’t go down”. The opposition had got themselves formed up the props were bent waiting to engage. Brian does no more than stand opposite his prop and kicks this individual straight in his head with as much gusto as he could muster. Bedlam brakes out and after a few minutes of handbags the ref gathers control. His decision was strange to say the least. He awarded the young Askeans, as we were known to them, a penalty. Dave Evans promptly kicked the ball through the posts and we ran out victors. As I said of the 8 games between 1965 Ian Lunn year as captain to 1969 we won 7 and drew one. Again the ref explained his decision after the game and he thought that whatever it was that caused Brian to react in that way should be penalised not Brian’s reaction to it. We all thought that it was an enlightened attitude to adopt. I told Brian this story just prior to his passing and he had no recall of the event my point being isn’t it strange that I can recall that passage of play as if it were yesterday and he could not remember it at all.
                Happy days. Speak to you again soon and love to Terry.
                                                    Kevin

 

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 24 August 2013 10:58
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More memories for the blog

 

Hello Dave,
                  Of course it is OK to use this crap I am sending you. It may need a bit of editing but as long as you are happy to do that carry on! The only other person who I have protracted messaging with was Brian so this feels quite strange to me. You have sent me on quite a nostalgia trip remembering that first Holland tour. I remember the beginning of that school year 1965/6 and a trial match for the 1st fifteen when a bloke called Ruddick came charging down the wing and his general direction was towards me. It was too late for a tactical retreat so the only thing for it was to meet the problem head on (this was before my interest in strategy). Anyhow this bullock who went by the name of Ruddick went down with me clinging to him for dear life. I played the whole of that season on the wing and I am sure it was because Wilf thought that if I could stop a Ruddick in full flow then nothing would get past me. Wilf did have a habit of moaning at me for my lack of pace though but when you had Bigwood, who I considered a bit of a show of in that department, on the other wing comparisons were always going to go against me. Anyhow I managed to play the whole season bar one game in Holland when yours truly took my place.
                 The next season arrived with the usual first fortnight of intense training and Wilf pulls me aside and informs me that my future rugby career will henceforth be conducted as a no 8. Now this caused me some considerable consternation as things tended to get a bit rough in the forwards, but I bowed to Wilf’s greater rugby knowledge. The truth was that I was scared to say no. I duly donned the no 8 shirt for the trial game, no one had thought to give me tactical hindsight as to where to go or what to do in certain situations. The fist half went in a flash, I played like a back chasing after the ball wherever it went. I was so knackered after the first half that I thought I was going to die. thoughts like “how the fuck do they manage and all that fighting too!” went through my mind but somehow I managed to last the game and was picked. I must have done something right season as by the end of it I felt right at home. Strangely enough the same thing happened at cricket that same school year. Up to then we had always had a supply of fast bowlers who were happy to charge about about expending sweat and energy all over the place. But with the beginning of a C Clarke’s captainship we had run out of fast bowlers. Now as a bit of showboating I could run in and chuck the ball down quite consistently on a length but held myself back from such exertions as I was needed as a guile y off breaker. Now it just happened that said C Clarke was a off break bowler so guess who got all the running about stuff – yes you got it.
                 Brian also had the same sort of transformation from no 8 to prop during a trial for Kent at u15 he took up the mantle and never looked back or maybe that was because his neck hurt so much who knows?
                 One last memory. What a Ian’s performance with the liquorice on the ferry going to Holland that first year. If you have not already covered it give it a go.
I am finding that putting these memories down in print quite therapeutic. I hope I am not boring you with all this personal stuff but there just seemed to be a link to you and Bob that had some relevance and then it all comes flooding out.
                Keep up the good work with your blog I think I am just starting to appreciate the enjoyment of committing to print memories that you know with the passing of time you will forget and will then be lost forever. Love to terry
                                                               Kevin

 

From: David Shute [mailto:davidshute@outlook.com]
Sent: 24 August 2013 11:40
To: ‘Kevin Burnett’
Subject: RE: More memories for the blog

 

Many thanks Kev – will be using your material in the near future mate.

 

Writing this stuff brings back great memories – and is almost as much fun as playing – without so much beer (and pain)

 

Was C Clarke Pete Clarke? He was skipper when I played 1st team cricket.

 

Ben (Bob Ruddick) will love the stuff about him!

 

Love to Angela,

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 24 August 2013 19:40
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More memories for the blog

 

Hello Dave,
                 Yes it was Pete Clarke and I do not remember you turning out for the first eleven. As I said it is strange what you do and do not recall. Speak to you again soon
                                                                    kevin

ps Spoke to Dave Evans earlier today and he told me of a telegraph sport advert which included me. I haven’t found the blog for this yet can you send it again?

 

 

From: David Shute [mailto:davidshute@outlook.com]
Sent: 25 August 2013 09:53
To: ‘Kevin Burnett’
Subject: RE: More memories for the blog

 

Kevin hi again,

 

My ability at cricket was about as good as on the rugby field – no wonder you don’t remember me!

 

I was a batsman but had a top score of only 35 (against Tiffin I think) – I did once hit 3 x 6s (in a score of just 23) but it was one with a very short boundary!

 

The reference to Telegraph sport was in the ‘Where it started’ post – was in the first few days of this rubbish

 

 

I’m working on adding stuff from e-mails I’ve had and plan to feature your memories extensively – probably won’t be for a week or so – the stuff I’m working on is piling up!

 

John Gilbert is coming down this week and Farrelley (and Jan) and Ben (Bob Ruddick) and Bren are coming at the end of September. Butch and Beryl are also going to visit soon.

 

Take care – love to Angela

 

Terry and me xx

 

 

 

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 27 August 2013 09:51
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More memories for the blog

 

Hello Dave,
                  Your little anecdote about the master who tackled Pledge and put him in hospital  reminds me of two other incidents at school involving masters and pupils. The first involved Dave Evans and Piggy Worthington. I seem to recall that it was in the second year at school for 62/63 and Worthington considered that our tackling prowess was not good enough ( similar story line to your story) anyway he picked on Dave Evans and challenged him to tackle him. Now I will have to tell you that Dave was quite a big bloke for his age but like Peter Pan he never grew up and stayed the same size throughout his school career. Worthington set off across the pitch, fully confident that Heavy would not get anywhere near him. But this was a challenge too far for Heavy and he took down Worthington with a textbook tackle- splat. Well you can imagine the sniggering that went on by all us second year brats, Worthington was beside himself with indignation which increased to absolute fury when he pulled from the pocket of his shorts a packet of crushed woodbines. I seem to recall the consequences were that Heavy was put in detention for some triffling matter soon afterwards but we all knew it was retribution for his fags.
                 The second incident involved me and Wilf. It was one of our first games periods having joined the school and Wilf was trying to teach us the rudiments of where to stand when starting a match and where we should move to consequently. All this was done with us on our knees, so there was thirty boys scrabbling about on their knees trying to keep in the positions we had been allocated. This must have been a bad day for Wilf or things were a little ragged to say the least. Anyway after about 30 minutes of this exercise I rolled on to bum and was inspecting a graze that had reopened on my knee when I felt a whack in my ribs and I am sure that I left the ground. I spun round and there stood a very disgruntled Lower School Headmaster whose foot must have hurt given how hard he had kicked me. I cannot recall what happened next as I am sure I was in a state of shock. The net result of this was that every tuesday I would try to swing the lead and get off school in an attempt to miss games and that bully but I think my mum was wise to little ruse. Upon reflection if a Lower School Headmaster was to kick a pupil, under any circumstances, I think that the nett result would be the end of that individual’s career. Yet we thought that was normal.
                  Speak to again soon. Love to Terry.
                                                                         Kevin

 

 

 

 

From: David Shute [mailto:davidshute@outlook.com]
Sent: 28 August 2013 09:58
To: Kevin Burnett
Subject: Going Live

 

Kev hi,

 

Just to warn you that I’m going to post later today to include all of your e-mail memories!

 

It’s not only very good stuff but it means that I don’t have to think up much of what to write today! Thanks for that mate.

 

The bloke included in the piece about Pete Pledge was Peter Clarke – the captain of the 1st X1 cricket.

 

Take care – love to Angela xx

 

Dave

 

 

From: Kevin Burnett
Sent: 27 August 2013 18:24
To: David Shute
Subject: Re: More memories for the blog

 

Hello Dave,   
                  Me again, just a quick word and then I promise to shut up. Back to your best team selection you mentioned Des at no8 and I assumed you meant Les. Did Des Kirby play at no8 as I never had the pleasure of playing with him. I understood that Des had played in the centre or maybe I remembered wrongly, anyhow I know that on his day he could play at full international standard. The only time I played with Des was a golf Match against Frinton GC. This was Sid Green ‘s club and there was an annual fixture and the OA golf society.
                  That’s my lot
                                     Kevin

 

 

From: David Shute [mailto:davidshute@outlook.com]
Sent: 28 August 2013 10:23
To: ‘Kevin Burnett’
Subject: RE: More memories for the blog

 

Kev hi,

 

Am just finishing the blog with your e-mails!

 

You’re right Des was an outstanding centre (played for the Barbarians) – but by the time Ben and I made the 1st XV – 1967 – he was at number 8.

I was never lucky enough to see him at centre – but he was pretty fucking awesome in the back row – and that was towards the end of his playing career.

 

The centres I played with back then were Mick Wilton, Pete Palethorpe and Stevie Bigwood

 

Moving into the pack was never an option for me – had anyone suggested I might swap my 13 shirt for one with a number less than 9 I would certainly have given it full consideration before giving the appropriate response of ‘no fucking chance!’

 

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also had a good one from Frankie Briggs – with yet another funny story that should really be in the ‘Runners and Riders’ heading – unfortunately I seem to have lost it – will try and find it for a future post. No – didn’t lose it after all – Frankie added it as a comment in that post!

 

I recently saw Kev and Angela along with Dave and Rhoda, Chunky, Bush, Ben, Lunny. Bob (Noble) and others at Brian’s Memorial Service (see ‘Saying Goodbye’).

 

It was (and always is) great to catch up with mates again – this blog has helped me do that even more – and fortunately without having to go to yet another funeral.

 

So – even if you find it pretty boring (and I frankly don’t blame you) for me it certainly hasn’t been all bad!

 

 

 

Planet of the Askeans

I once read that if you put these 15 monkeys in a room with 15 typewriters that eventually they would type the complete works of Shakespeare.

I think that’s pretty amazing don’t you? But then I began to wonder if we did the same with a team of Askeans would they be any quicker in knocking out all that stuff. I mean we could probably put together at least a few who might be a bit smarter than your average baboon I imagine.

It might be easier for us to select too – I imagine the Simian team might have a few problems finding the specific fifteen monkeys that are referred to in the original thesis. I mean, say you could only get hold of eight of them – would that result in some of the plays being unfinished? Might you only get the tragedies and not the comedies? What if some of the sonnets only had 13 lines?

Even getting eight or nine of them could be a tad of a problem – I don’t know – are they even in the same jungle? And how do they know who they are in the first place? Don’t they all look alike?

At least with us we could pick carefully and contact them without too much hassle – some of our front row can do e-mails and even colour in without going over many of the lines.

Yeah – we definitely have an edge – but who will be responsible for what? Do the front five concentrate on the historical works that have lots of blood and gore? It would be a bit of a busman’s holiday if we had Jimmy, Lunny and Peety having a go at these I imagine.

But that would be a bit of a waste of Oaksey (our Cambridge graduate and hooker) – surely we’d want him to bash out some of the more incomprehensible stuff that Will scribbled back in the 17th Century.

Kev (Burnett), Chunky and Benny would be good for the tragedies – there’s a lot of savagery there – and in some of the plays as well!

No – we would definitely be in with a good chance of winning I think – I mean some of their team might be languishing in a private zoo without access to pen or paper much less a typewriter!

It would definitely help if we could stop them just sitting on their red backsides and throwing poo at you all the time – and that goes for the Ape team as well.

Naturally they might have an edge by using a female chimp to have a go at the nancy drivel like Romeo and Juliet. Especially as I don’t know any gay blokes at Askeans, so there’d be no one to help us out with the romantic stuff. I have yet to come across one of our lot who is in touch with their feminine side (unless that includes texting suggestive photos to their bit on the side)

I’d obviously have to try and do a couple of the comedies – to mirror my antics on the field. I should get a fair bit of help from Ben, Bush and Paddy with ‘Much Ado’ and ‘As you like it’. Mind you I think that what we did on the field was a hell of a lot funnier than those plays – they must have had a strange sense of humour back then. Did Will have to hold up cards to tell them when to laugh?

It would definitely have helped.

Another concern is why typewriters?

Do you think it might be because of the fat and weird shaped digits? Mind you I guess the primates might have a problem with that as well.

I suspect we are a bit more PC literate than a bunch of gorillas and the save and file buttons could be useful if anything looked even remotely like ‘to be or maybe not’ or ‘now is the winter of our dis-incontinence’

You wouldn’t want to lose anything after a tough day at the screen face when you would rather have been sitting and scratching yourself and pulling stupid faces all day – and yes I’m talking about the apes here in case you were wondering.

You have to be a little unsure about the value of a spell check though – most of Willy’s jottings looks pretty strange on the page and you wonder just what he was on half the time – about eight pints of mead I should think. You need about the same quantity to endure most of the plays as well.

When I was eleven an aunt of mine gave me the complete works and I remember thinking back then what a rubbish present that was! What I’d have preferred was a ‘Johnny 7’ – which was a replica AK47 (not a week’s supply of condoms)

How wrong can you be – I still have it and it makes a really good doorstop for the shed.

But before moving to the West Country I did keep it by the bed – this was not to impress anyone who saw it there and thought it was bedtime reading – But rather, if someone broke in (not unheard of in London) a heavy object can come in jolly handy.

But let’s get real for a minute – it was sometimes hard enough getting out a 7s team on a Sunday – getting 15 Askeans to sit in a room with typewriters in order to replicate the same rubbish that has been around for over 300 years seems a bit of a stretch – even if you promised them unlimited beer and pizza. Of course hot and cold running nymphomaniacs might be a bit more of a pull (no pun intended).

However if you could track down this troop of monkeys there is a much bigger opportunity – why waste all that talent on trying to recreate a Scottish play which already exists and has no more decent violence than a Christmas edition of Eastenders?

I’d put these smart baboons and orang-utans to work on producing something original – I’m not talking about a few new episodes of ‘Planet of the Apes’ or ‘Gorillas in the Mist 2’ – not even a prequel to the ‘Jungle Book’ or a couple of PG Tips ads.

No! it needs to be original and preferably light on eating dead roots and the joy of showing off their red arses.

Look, for a few bananas and some cheap beads and mirrors we could at least be looking at a TV mini -series. And if these primates are as clever as suggested we could be talking gold statue time for an original screenplay!

And – let’s face it who’s going to believe that a masterpiece is down to a few hairy beasts (or even some monkeys) – it would be my word against their “Oooh oooh”. No contest I suggest.

Mind you the first thing I’ll get the little bastards to do is write some of this blog – I’m guessing they’ll probably attract a lot more readers than I have!

Some are born great, some achieve greatness but I know a bloody good thing when I see it!