Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old shirts for new.

I noted today with sadness the death of James Henderson, Scotland's oldest Rugby international. He played in the 30's, and was a great supporter of the game and the Baa Baas ( The Barbarians) in particular.
My long dead uncle, Jock Wemyss, knew him well - and he had been an internationalist before the First World War, and briefly after it. The extraordinary thing was that a bullet hit his nose and excised his right eye perfectly during that particular bagarre, but this didn't stop him being a great player and kicker afterwards.
He used to tell the story of playing in 1913 and 1914, but then there being no further internationals until the winter of 1918.
In those days there was little or no preparation for such events, probably just a get together the morning of the match. Most of the players would have arrived by bus.
So my uncle turned up on the appointed day in 1918, had a bit of a team talk, they ate lunch together, and then repaired to the changing rooms, where he assumed all the kit would be (he'd brought his own boots, jock strap and shorts).
There was nothing. No socks, no shirts. Being the elder statesman, the rest of the team deputed Uncle Jock to search out the SRFU chairman and ask where the kit was.
" Mr. Chairman, we're a bit short on shirts and socks."
The Chairman looked at him in horror.
" You mean you didn't bring the ones you had before?"
My uncle mentioned that his particular shirt had been ripped to shreds at the match ( no extra ones then).
" What, and you never thought to have it mended? We're not made of money, you know"
I think they borrowed some from some supporters.