Photo provided by Jacki Terry, words by John Maloney
It is an accepted truism that history is written by the victors, or perhaps more accurately, the paid men and sycophants of the ruling class. In these times, if you are not a victor, then a celebrity be. So what of the rest of us? Celebrity or not, as a sage once said ‘every man and woman is a star’.
I was a member of the youth centre rugby club from the mid-sixties to the early seventies. I knew these men, they were all stars. Who will write their history? No one will unless we write it ourselves. That is the real magic and power of this website. Bringing into the light, that which in other times would have simply been ignored and lost. In this photograph are men who were in the same class as me, but most, the core and creators of what became Mayfield Old Boys RFC were much older. Many had left the school before I left primary. I do not intend to refer to everyone in this photograph as I wish to leave room for others to make their own contribution. I will not refer to those who I knew at school, only those that I met through playing the game at this club.
In the back row, second from the left is John Burchell. John played in the backs and was often called on the lead them. I recall that this was a task he undertook with confidence and intelligence. But much more importantly than this, elsewhere in Mayfield Memories John has already begun the history of the club and its people. His vignettes of John Small and Andy Miller are spot-on, as is his tribute “I had some great times with a bunch of fantastic fellows”. Well done John and for starting this history, you are a star.
Number six in the back row is Vic. Many of us reach a point in life when we need some big questions to be answered. We may not get answers but the discovery that those questions are out there is often illumination enough. Vic was ahead of all of us, a seeker in the midst of a prosaic game. Though this says little about Vic’s qualities, I recall that when the Torrey Canyon went down, he dropped whatever he was doing at the time and headed off to Cornwall to volunteer with the RSPB, rescuing sea birds. I hope Vic found some answers, but for discovering the questions so far ahead of the rest of us and showing us the way, well done Vic, you are a star.
Number four in the front row is Johnny Hornby. From time to time, John and I ventured out to ‘a nice little pub in Essex’ with our respective girlfriends. My girlfriend had a baby sister and when he called round to pick us up she would declare ‘Johnby Hornby is here’. With a few exceptions it’s the girlfriends, once they become a serious part of our life, that take us away from the game. I wonder in retrospect whether the substitution of Saturday afternoon shopping trips was a fair exchange. I bumped into John in the early nineties. He was taking a break in his van outside the office where I then worked. I was astonished and in awe to discover that he had continued playing well into his mid thirties. So well done Johnby Hornby, for bucking the trend, you are star.
On the far right, front row is John Scanes. His father run the Chadwell Arms as it was then, in Chadwell Heath High Street. I recall meeting for a swift half before a match on a couple of occasions but generally we did not use the pub. Never understood why. It was a Watneys pub which has quite different connotations now than it did then. There were few Watneys pubs in the area so it was a bit of a treat to get some down. I hasten to add that this was before the dreaded Watneys Red hit the market. I guess it also says a lot about the other crap we were served up in the dominant Charringtons and Ind Coope pubs of those days. While we all knew deep down there was something wrong with the beer available in the area, it was not until Camra came along a few years later that we were able to articulate it. Moving on, John had the perfect job in the City for that time, he repaired typewriters. That may mean little unless you are of a certain age. In those days every office of any size had a typing pool ‘womenned’ from the entrance door seamlessly right though to the fire exit. Repairing typewriters was the perfect job for a young man in those times, so well done John for being so in tune with them. You are star.
There are a few faces missing which I also wish to mention.
Barry Crosby, a bit of a wild one maybe but though Barry had the build of a back he was as strong as an ox and never happy unless propping where he could take on those twice his build. When the club changed its strip from green and white hoops to black and gold hoops he and Ian Mortimer came up with the idea of adding day-glow orange shorts to the kit. It never became formally adopted but Barry always turned out in them regardless. In those times, the front row was not a position from which many tries were scored. Trevor Furlong, the club captain, frequently wrote up reports of our matches for the Ilford Recorder. On one occasion the report was headlined ‘Maloney over twice’. Fair enough, but Barry was not pleased as he had also scored two tries in the match. Much more remarkable for a forward like him, than a back like me. Given the chance I would rewrite the headline, maybe along the lines of ‘Crosby crashes over twice’ because Barry, you are a star.
Sid Smith. (or is that him No. 3 front row?) Essex wide boy, jack the lad or free spirit? Sid was a soccer player really but also a natural all round sportsman. Every so often Sid had to escape the stultifying mindset of that strange game played with the round ball and hang out with us for a bit of down time, drinking and fun. He slotted in as a rampaging full back, slick, prolific and unique in my experience of soccer players in that he actually got rugby, both on the field and off. For that Sid, you are a star.
Though John has already mentioned him I also have to include Andy Miller. The most technically satisfying try I scored was at the Westland Playing Fields in Romford. It came from a quick interchange of passing between Andy and me between the 25 yard line, as it then was, and the 5 yard line. 5 yards out Andy could have taken the try himself but he made the final pass to me. Typically selfless and focused on encouraging others. For that Andy, you are a star.
Dave Rogers. Dave did not go to Mayfield. I believe he moved into the area after leaving school from somewhere over Earls Court way. I met him hanging around the youth centre putting on this Australian accent and playing the stranger in town. I introduced him to the rugby club and he took to the game like an Antipodean. Dave was not a real Australian but had that energetic, positive, can–do outlook on life that is characteristic of the nation and for that Dave, you are a star.
Looking at that photograph now, Dave Hurrell, Keith Fluke, Gavin Smethurst, Andy Ridley and all, its I bit of a shock to see how young they all look. It’s a strange effect of time that as we age, the mental picture of those we knew tends to age with us. It’s a sobering thought that some of these young men are no longer even spending their Saturdays shopping but maybe shuffling from the coach park to the next National Trust Shop or Café. ‘Yes dear, that’s a lovely thimble, I’ll buy it for you and you can add it to your collection.’ Stars all the same.