ON TOUR WITH REDDITCH RFC
Touring has been a great tradition in Rugby Clubs and Redditch is no exception. Traditionally, what goes on tour stays on tour so this section must, of course, have some severe editing!!
Personally, while playing for Redditch, I can recall touring to Lille 3 times, Hilversum, Mountain Ash, Huddersfield, The Isle of Man, Magaluf at least 3 times, Builth Wells and Lampeter. There were also regular tours to Auxerre which have been mentioned elsewhere. Mike Lewis remembers the first tour. Skippy Weston 1967
As previously stated memory not what it was so the following will be snippets!
It was decided to do our first trip to Weston as it was fairly close and, in those days, not many people had cars so quite a few were reliant on lifts. Think it was Roger R. who had connections, so he sorted out the accommodation. On this I stand to be corrected.
Wilkinson, Westwood, I and one other, after having had our arms twisted, volunteered to go down a day earlier and see what we could do about entertainment.
We had a look at several pubs to see what their beers were like and what kind of facilities they could offer. After a few beers we decided on one, name unknown, which offered a room next to the bar and also a pianist. The landlord was very welcoming, and we said that there would be no fracas, but we would pay for any damage which could be incurred. This was not to be. We went there every night and were joined, at some time or other, by Abercrave, Weston or Old Wellingtonions. The behaviour was excellent and the singing superb and consisted of mainly old favourites from the past with just a few Rugby Chants which we kept till late in the evening. (We have been blessed with some great singers over the years. John Harkness and Jim McKenzie from Scotland and Dougie Billyard from England normally knew all the words. Skippy)
On the last night we left relatively early, 10.30, to go and have a last Chinese. As we staggered out we were amazed to see a long queue of people waiting to get into the pub and asking us if the show was still on and “Were there song sheets available."
The following morning Wilkinson, Westwood and myself went to see the landlord to thank him for his hospitality and was there any damage to pay for. He was over the moon. The word had got around Weston about the singing at his pub, hence the queue, and he had sold more beer in those three nights than he had over the last couple of months. We were welcome to come back any time and he presented each of us with a tankard and a bottle of whisky each. These were drunk at the next home match!!! AND I still have my tankard.
Only a few years ago we happened to stay at The Abercrave Inn up the valley from Swansea. In our room was a book on the history of the village of Abercrave which in its day was a small mining community. Lo and behold, there was a picture of a charabanc in front of which there were a group of men in macs and flat caps and one of them was holding a sign which said WESTON 196?
I went straight downstairs to see if the landlord knew if anybody from the photo ever came into the pub. He said “Yes, the third from the left on the front row."
"Does he ever come in?" says I.
“He do come here every day." says he.
"Could you introduce me then? Says I.
“No problem. My names Dan what's yours."
For the couple of days there we didn't ever have to pay for a drink!
Any Rugby club tends to have relatives who have played for the club. Redditch is fortunate to have had many instances of relations who have played for the club over time.
R.L.Huins and S.J.Huins, of Huins Shoes, who figure on the immediate pre-war committee and the post war set up were brothers and perhaps the first family affair in the club.
With the introduction of a ladies team we have altered the normal view of father and son, brothers, uncle and nephew. The Mills family has Garry, Judy, James and Sarah all actively playing for Redditch Rugby club. Add elder brother Roy and a couple of cousins who also played, and we have a unique family combination.
Founder members Frank Cardy and Tony Carr have left lasting memories through their families still active in the club. Frank’s son Glyn has been a stalwart of the club in the times that he has lived in the area. Glyn, in turn, had two sons, Mark and Neil who played regularly, with Neil (Nelly) still appearing regularly for the Exiles. Neil’s son and daughter have both tasted rugby at the club thought their preference at the moment lies with Hockey where Joe is a fearless goal keeper.
Tony’s sons Brian and Andy have both given tirelessly on and off the field since they were children, while Andy’s son Harry also plays for the club.
(There are many other family combinations out there with brothers Matt and Mike Allen and father and son Jack and Martin McLarney among the latest. If you have a combination you want recorded let me know. Skippy).
History of the Club - Annual Dinners
Annual Dinners have been a tradition in many Rugby Clubs and Redditch is no different.
We are fortunate to have had two very pedantic, no well organised, people who managed the dinners from the 8th in 1975 through to the 16th in 1983. Thanks to John Stott and Richard Mountford we have very detailed records from many of those dinners.
1975 was the first year that the club dinner was held in the Clubhouse. So it provided a number of new challenges to John who was the chairman of the social committee. Firstly, there was the question of catering and how we could feed the thousands using the club facilities. After receiving numerous quotes Honeybourne Supply Co. was selected to provide a roast turkey with chipolata stuffing, new potatoes and vegetables. All this for the princely sum of £1.25 plus VAT per head. 4 bottles of Rose d’Anjou were bought in at 77pence and sold at £1.02. Beaujolais at £1.22 a bottle was the most popular with 11 bottles sold.
2nd challenge was how to fit 95 persons (which included 11 guests) into a clubhouse which was far smaller than the current one. It was done and the profit on the night was recorded as £6.94. Admission was a staggeringly cheap, by today’s standards, £2.00!
Guest Speaker was David Duckham, MBE, who was the current England winger, with 36 England caps and 3 Lions caps from the 1971 tour to New Zealand where he scored 11 tries.
In accepting an invitation to the North Midlands Society of Rugby Football Referees, their secretary, Alan Dunsbee, added a PS with regard to the attending referee: “PS I suggest you do not ask him to speak”
The table plan for the 1976 dinner records one S.Hindson in attendance and the guest speaker as Alec Lewis, England blind side loose forward. The ticket price had risen to £2.50 and £1.50 for students. Attendance was 81 and the price of a bottle of “Blue Nun” was up to £2.20, almost as much as the ticket. From memory a pint of lager was 28 pence in the club at the time! Profit exceeded £20 on the night.
The guest from the referees’ society was Graeme Scutt, who, at the time of writing, is still welcoming referees and visiting teams to Camp Hill rugby club, as he has done for many years.
One minor administrative problem that John had to deal with in 1976 was that the catering company went bust. Honeybourne Catering who had done such a fine job in 1975, informed John of their demise 3 weeks before the night. It is testament to his organisational skills that he had a new caterer in place within 2 days!