Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Desmond Charles van Jaarsveldt

Photo 6, Desmond Charles van Jaarsveldt

Rhodesia produced several notable rugby Springboks, from the crash- tackling Ryk van Schoor and lock Salty du Rand against the All Blacks in 1949, through to the utility back Ian Robertson in France in 1974-75. But only one gained the ultimate honour of captaining the Springboks — a major power in world rugby — in an international. He was the famous 'Bald Eagle' of Bulawayo. Des van Jaarsveldt, who was on the flank to lead South Africa to an 18-10 victory over Scotland at the Boet Erasmus Stadium at Port Elizabeth in 1960.

It was the only Test of Scotland's short tour and it proved to be the only Test in which van Jaarsveldt played, though he distinguished himself by scoring a try, a rare feat on debut. The Springbok team he so proudly led was: M. Gerber; J. Engelbrecht, J. Gainsford, I. Kirkpatrick, R. Twigge; D. Stewart, F. Gericke; D. Holton, A. van der Merwe, M. Bekker, D. van Jaarsveldt J. Claassen, P. Allen, H. van Zyl, D. Hopwood.

Although he bears an Afrikaans name, van Jaarsveldt cannot speak a word of the language and freely admitted: "It must be the first time a Springbok captain has had to give his team talk in English."

The Rhodesian had replaced Johan Claassen as Test captain and this sparked controversy, with the newspaper Die Transvaler bitterly commenting: "It is an evil day for South African rugby when the country has to seek its rugby captain from beyond its borders in the territory of a strange land." Happily this did not reflect the attitude of most South Africans and certainly not of his team-mates who gave the popular Des their full support for his most worthy, though belated, recognition as a Springbok.

After a distinguished career for Rhodesia from 1947 to 1962 during which he played 62 games (behind only Iain Buchanan and Rob Stewart who had many more games per season open to them) van Jaarsveldt took over as president of the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union in 1979 to climax an unmatched rugby career for the country of his birth.

Born at Bulawayo on 31 March 1929, Desmond Charles van Jaarsveldt was educated at Milton Junior and Plumtree Schools and made his rugby debut for the then Southern Rhodesia as a wing against Northern Transvaal in 1947 when, at the age of eighteen, he was only a few months out of school.

Although the match was lost 3-20 at Bulawayo, van Jaarsveldt scored all his side's points. That year he also went on tour with the full Rhodesian team, and in his second game in the green-and-white scored a vital try in the sensational 10-5 victory over Western Province at Newlands. That has remained one of the high points of the nation's rugby history with the teenage van Jaarsveldt on the wing and marking the great Otto van Niekerk.

In front of a large crowd in ideal conditions, so unusual in the Cape, van Jaarsveldt got the better of this duel to show his enormous potential, while the Rhodesians as a unit played to their limit. It was Dave Garde, the hooker, who scored the try which put Rhodesia in front, but perhaps the major star was full back John Kitcat, whose courage and class had the crowd buzzing with admiration and led to widespread talk among rugby men of him being a future Springbok. So well did Kitcat play that the convenor of the Springbok selectors, Bill Schreiner, presented him with a Springbok tie.

Later, van Jaarsveldt moved to the flank and went on to captain Rhodesia 19 times between 1958 and 1962, a total only eclipsed by Buchanan and hooker Rob Mundell (23 times between 1968 and 1971). But one record still standing to the 'Bald Eagle' is for the most number of internationals for Rhodesia — he played in nine, one more than Andy Macdonald and three more than Brian Murphy and Ray Varkevisser. Van Jaarsveldt also scored 17 tries for his country, getting four of them in 1950.

A fiery player, with pace, strength and superb stamina, he searched remorselessly for the loose ball with an attacking flair which has remained unmatched by any forward from this country.

His monk-like devotion to the game earned him not only 62 Rhodesian caps and the Springbok captaincy, but also Springbok trials in 1951,1956 and 1960, and a Junior Springbok cap in 1955. Known for his amazing versatility, he played for Rhodesia as a wing, flank, eighthman and even as a front-ranker on occasion. His debut was against South Western Districts in a Currie Cup match at Riversdale, won 8-0 by Rhodesia just before that momentous Newlands game.

Van Jaarsveldt first captained Rhodesia against the French in 1958. This was the major draw card of the season and it saw a new-look Rhodesian team, with such unfamiliar faces as 'Poekie' Reynolds (full back), Clive de Bruyn (centre), Hendrik Meyer (wing) and half-backs Dux Deysel and Richard Bright. To back them was the rich experience of men like van Jaarsveldt Wickus de Kock, van der Spuy, Roebert and Macdonald.

It was the first visit by the French to Southern Africa and they were to thrill with their flair and enterprise. The flamboyant French, with scrum-half Pierre Danos the trump card, perplexed the Rhodesians to win 19-0. Michel Celaya's team went south and became the first touring side since Hammond's 1896 Britons to beat the South Africans in a Test series in South Africa.

The year 1958 was a disastrous one for Rhodesia, which fielded the first team from the country since the War to go through a full season without a single success, having been massacred 42-3 by Northern Transvaal. It was a worrying era, with few outstanding all-Rhodesian-bred players emerging throughout the 1950s Many of the stars were recruited to the tobacco farms in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) or to the mines in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Among such mer were Tom van Vollenhoven, Ryk van Schoor and Salty du Rand.

The great exception of the struggling fifties, of course, was van Jaarsveldt who at the end of 1959 was named as captain of the Rest of South Africa to play against the Currie Cup champions, Western Province, in a trial match for the Springbok team to be chosen in early 1960. Van Jaarsveldt led his side to a 19-14 victory and was named by a leading Afrikaans newspaper as one of South Africa's Five Rugby Players of the Year. It was this form that led to him, at the age of thirty one, pulling on the number six Springbok jersey on 1 May 1960, at Port Elizabeth against Gordon Waddell's Scots.

It was the realisation of a lifetime's ambition and vindicated his decision to switch from wing to flank Powerfully built — he represented Rhodesia as a heavy weight boxer in the 1950 South African championships — he was also fast, having won his school 100 yards (10,5 sec) and 220 yards (22,8 sec), reducing these times to 10,2 and 22,3 sec respectively after leaving school. He was later to combine this speed and aggression to brush aside the Scots' defence in his one Test in a pulsating fifty metre surge to score near the posts.

When the formidable All Blacks came to Rhodesia in 1960 they were held to an unconvincing 13-9 victory against an experimental Rhodesian XV at Kitwe. With van Jaarsveldt and the full Rhodesian side back for the Salisbury game, Wilson Whineray's men set their sights on a more impressive display. They did win 29-14, but Rhodesia gave them a fright by leading 9-6 at one stage in the game. Then the great Colin Meads scored a fortuitous try and the All Blacks ran in four tries inside twenty minutes, Don Clarke converting three. The valiant Rhodesians were by no means swamped and van Jaarsveldt was given great credit by the critics for a fine creative and aggressive game at Glamis Stadium.

In 1962, at the age of thirty-three, it was time for the 'Bald Eagle' to go. After a then record number of appearances he was dropped by the Rhodesian selectors after leading the team to a 24-8 victory over North Eastern Districts and scoring a typically aggressive try in his finale, after which he was replaced by 'Sakkie' Human. But it was not until 1967, at the age of thirty-eight after twenty years in senior rugby, that van Jaarsveldt — who played for BAC on leaving school and then served Old Miltonians for most of his career — retired from all rugby.

Awarded the MBE in the 1963 New Year's honours list he also coached the Rhodesian side from 1967 to 1970, was chairman of the provincial Matabeleland Board from 1973 to 1976 and assumed the highest office as president of the Rhodesia Rugby Football Union in 1979.

But it is as one of Rhodesia's greatest rugby players that Desmond Charles van Jaarsveldt will be best remembered.


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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Percy Neville Frank Mansell

Photo 5, Percy Mansell

It was as a retiring sixteen-year-old Bulawayo schoolboy that Percy Mansell made his first-class cricket debut for Rhodesia against Transvaal at Johannesburg in 1936. On that occasion he took the wickets of Tony Harris and N. Cook and with two splendid slip catches commenced his career as a specialist in a position where he subsequently established a reputation as one of the world's best.

When the bespectacled Mansell. at the age of fifty-nine still as humble and quiet as ever steppe down as a senior selector at the end of the 1978-79 season, he had served his country as player and administrator for forty-three years — an outstanding record of loyalty. And he continues to serve on the new Zimbabwe Cricket Union Board of Control.

But Mansell will be remembered for far greater things than his unswerving loyalty, for in a country which produced such players as Bland, Lewis. Partridge, Du Preez, Pithey, Lawrence and Tomlinson he will go down in the record books, and in the memories of those who watched him in his hey-day, as the greatest Rhodesian cricketer of all.

Percy Neville Frank Mansell was born at St. George's, Shropshire, a small village near Shrewsbury in England, on 16 March 1920. He came to the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) when just three months and three days old and has remained in Bulawayo since. He attended Milton Junior School and played for the school cricket team in 1931. At high school he was a regular member of Milton 1 st XI from 1934-36 and in his last year at school represented Matabeleland and then Rhodesia against Transvaal in December.

He was also a junior tennis player of note, but decided to concentrate on cricket once he came under the fatherly and experienced eye of Gerald Ledeboer, the man who had coached such players as Jock Thompson, Jack Hayward, Arnold Hyde and Jack Charsley. It was Milton that also produced such noted players as Harry? Evans and Cecil Harris and, much later, Bland.

It was evident from an early age that Mansell was a player of outstanding all- round merit and his fluent strokes and puzzling leg breaks were the envy of all.

When Walter Hammond's MCC team arrived in Bulawayo in 1939 it was natural that young Mansell would be chosen to oppose them and. a few weeks before his nineteenth birthday, he made an impressive 62 for Rhodesia. The War years and ill health curtailed Mansell's career until early 1946 when he scored 37 in a friendly against Transvaal. It was in March 1947, in another friendly against Transvaal at Salisbury, that he scored his maiden first-class century, a brilliant 111 not out. He followed with 65 in the second innings.

Until 1960, when he retired from big-time cricket at the age of forty, 'perennial' Percy — always the quiet gentleman of cricket — dominated Rhodesian cricket as supreme all-rounder. And none finer has emerged since. An accountant with the Railways at Bulawayo all his working life, and a confirmed bachelor, Mansell was to prove his cricketing quality when he went on three overseas tours w\th the Springboks — to England (1951 and 1955) and to Australia and New Zealand (1952-53). One of South Africa's five Cricketers of the Year in 1955 he ultimately played in 13 Tests, scoring 355 runs in 22 innings with a top score of 90 when he just missed the distinction of becoming the first Springbok to score a century in a maiden Test innings. He also took 11 Test wickets for 736 runs at an average of 66,91 and held 15 catches. With hands uncommonly large and reactions swift and fluent, few catches escaped him in the slips. One can recall many brilliant catches in his career, an important skill, part of the make-up of the complete all-rounder. For his services to cricket Mansell was awarded the MBE in the Queen's New Year's honours list of 1962.

Following the visit of Hammond's MCC team, Mansell gained a wealth of experience in top-flight company after the War when he played for Rhodesia — though with limited success — against the 1948-49 MCC tourists captained by George Mann. Both matches were rain affected and were drawn. At Bulawayo, Rhodesia made 174 and 166 and the MCC 193 (Compton 60) and 117-2. The Salisbury scores in February 1949 were: MCC 228 (Hutton 79; Compton 34; Martin 6-49); Rhodesia 61 (Martin 27 n.o.; Bedser 6-17; Gladwin 4-37) and 191-5. The tourists also included such famous names as Washbrook, Tremlett, Palmer and Mann, while Bob Newson and Hugh Tayfield were then playing for Rhodesia.

The following season (1949-50) Lindsay Hassett's Australians toured Southern Africa and beat Rhodesia by an innings and 161 runs at Bulawayo's Queens Ground. Rhodesia's batsmen could not stand up to the attack of Lindwall, Walker and Johnson, but Mansell made his international reputation as a leg spinner, taking 6-89 in 14,7 overs and dismissing Morris, Moroney, Loxton, Langley, Lindwall and Noble! Scores: Australia 398 (Morris 104; Moroney 104; Mansell 6-89); Rhodesia 166 and 71.

In 1950-51 Mansell captained Rhodesia for one season, playing two fine innings of 46 and 59 against powerful Transvaal that placed him in a class of his own and brought attention from the Springbok selectors. Transvaal won that Salisbury Currie Cup game by an innings and 141 runs, Eric Rowan hitting 178. Among Mansell's other performances during that season were 65 not out against North Eastern Transvaal, 7-78 against Western Province and 4-86 against Griqualand West. He finished with 345 runs and 27 wickets in five Currie Cup matches and was invited to the final Springbok trial at Kingsmead, Durban from 15-19 February 1951. This was a twelve-a-side affair in which Mansell had an innings analysis of 5-101 in 29,5 overs to impress the five selectors, Arthur Coy, Syd Pegler, Tup Holmes, Carle Schwabe and Frank Lambert.

The thirty-year-old Mansell was that night named in Dudley Nourse's South African team to tour England (1951) becoming Rhodesia's second Springbok cricketer after Denis Tomlinson, who had earned his colours sixteen years previously. Mansell was a new cap in the side along with Jackie McGlew, Roy McLean, Geoff Chubb, Russell Endean, Clive van Ryneveldt and John Waite. Other players chosen were Dudley Nourse, Eric Rowan, Jack Cheetham, Geoff Fullerton,Tufty Mann, Cuan McCarthy, Michael Melle and Athol Rowan.

Mansell played 20 first-class matches on tour, batting 27 times to compile 504 runs at an average of 21,91 with three half-centuries. He also claimed 29 wickets at 36,55 apiece, his best being 5-37 in 26 overs against Glamorgan. The statistics also show that Mansell played in two Tests, bowling only four overs without a wicket, but scoring a 90 to average 32,66 for third in the averages. But they do not reveal the drama behind the Bulawayo man's Test debut, when he came in for Fullerton in the fourth international at Headingley, Leeds.Batting gracefully at number seven he attacked the bowling to reach his half- century in 75 minutes. Everyone shared his disappointment when he fell to a catch by Tattersall just ten short of an historic century. He was at the crease for 2¾ hours and hit 17 fours facing the bowling of Bedser, Bailey, Brown and Tattersall. Mansell batted along with Eric Rowan in this innings, the famous Springbok scoring 236 and occupying the crease for a mammoth 575 minutes — the fourth longest Test innings on record at that time. South Africa scored 538 and England reached 500, with centuries from Hutton and May, for the match to be drawn.

But there was little distinction for Mansell in the fifth Test at The Oval. He scored 8 and 0 and did not bowl as the Springboks succumbed by four wickets.

The 1951-52 home season again saw Mansell in outstanding all-round form, averaging 48,5 with the bat with a top score of 94 not out and taking 49 wickets at an average of 16,37. On six occasions he claimed five wickets in an innings, operating as an opening bowler against Border in East London to take 6-91 and 7- 114. His best was 7-71 against North Eastern Transvaal at Pretoria.

After attending a final trial at Newlands, Mansell was named in Jack Cheetham's Springbok team to tour Australasia in 1952-53. That team was: Jack Cheetham, Jackie McGlew, Russell Endean, Eddie Fuller, Ken Funston, Gerald Innes, Hedley Keith, Eric Norton, Percy Mansell, Roy McLean, Michael Melle, Anton Murray, Hugh Tayfield, John Waite and John Watkins.

On this heroic tour, Mansell played in all five Tests against Australia and in the two against New Zealand. In nine innings against the Aussies he scored 141 runs with one half-century and an average of 23,50. He also took nine wickets at 56,55. In other first-class matches Mansell scored 352 runs, putting on 108 with McGlew in 87 minutes against West Australia. His best bowling was 6-53 in 14,3 overs against Victoria, when he also held four great catches.

It is worth recounting that drama-filled series which the Springboks, through sheer tenacity and superb teamwork, drew 2-2.

Australia won the first Test at Brisbane by 96 runs, Neil Harvey's classical 109 being the outstanding performance. Mansell, who scored 31, was one of only three Springboks to reach 30 in the first innings. At Melbourne in the second Test, South Africa humbled the might of Australia by 82 runs with 2½ hours to spare, Mansell taking 3-58 in 19 overs thus making a vital contribution — his victims being McDonald, Hassett and Hole. Tayfield, with 6-84 and 7-81, was man-of-the-match.

The classy Harvey scored 190 out of 443 while Lindwall and Miller took eight and five wickets respectively as the Aussies stormed to victory by an innings and 38 runs in the third Test at Sydney. The fourth Test at Adelaide was drawn, Hassett scoring 163 before being dismissed by Mansell. McDonald made 154 and Harvey 84 in an Australian total of 530. Harvey's second innings contribution was 116.

And so to that exciting fifth Test at Melbourne, won by Cheetham's side by six wickets to square the series to become only the second team in history to win after facing a first innings score of over 500. The rampant Harvey got 205 of Australia's 520, South Africa replying with 435 (Watkins 92; McLean 81; Cheetham 66; Mansell 52). The Aussies reached 209 in their second innings (Fuller 5-56) and, led by Roy McLean (76 not out) in Jessopian style, South Africa won at 297-4. In this Test Mansell played a vital role in staying with Cheetham for a seventh wicket partnership of 111. occupying the crease for 2Vi hours.

Summing up after the tour, commentator Charles Fortune wrote: "Mansell was always calm and passive to the outward eye. It is not bowling but batsmanship that brings out the power that lies in Mansell's frame. He delights in the desperate hour. My vivid memories of Mansell slip catches at Brisbane and Perth, battering Miller and baffling Australia's batsmen when alone with Tayfield he held the bowling breach at Melbourne."

Mansell did not gain Springbok selection for the home series against Geoff Rabone's New Zealanders in 1953-54 but was again chosen to tour England in 1955 with Cheetham's team. England won an absorbing and pulsating series 3-2, but the Springboks did win 13 of their other 23 first-class games, losing only one. Though not scoring a first-class century, Mansell did score 148 against Durham at Sunderland, batting for only 122 minutes. Against Leicester he took 6-52 in 23 overs of leg-spin. And of Mansell's fielding, author Gordon Ross wrote after the tour: "As a slip fielder he surely has no peer. He took some fantastic catches on this tour."

It was on this tour that swashbuckling Paul Winslow scored 40 off eight deliveries from Jack Ikin against Lancashire at Old Trafford. Then at the same venue Winslow reached his maiden first-class century with a gigantic six in the third Test after batting for 170 minutes. Mansell's four Test appearances were not happy ones — his top score was only 16, he totalled only 45 and he took but one wicket.

The season 1955-56 was a fine one for Rhodesia. The team played positive, winning cricket and achieved promotion with six outright victories in the B Section — the first occasion this had been achieved in the Currie Cup competition. It is fitting to name the players, who were Lewis (captain), O'Connell-Jones, Baldwin, Duckworth, Mansell, Davies, Kemp, Coventry, Arnott, Lawrence, Partridge and Slaven.Mansell topped both the batting and bowling averages for the entire B Section, scoring 393 runs in six innings (top score 154 against Kimberley and also 148 against Griqualand West at Bulawayo) for an average of 65,50. He also took 36 wickets at 14,38. David Lewis, Dennis O'Connell-Jones and Marshall Davies also each scored two centuries in the season, while Mansell and Davies put on 203 for the fifth wicket against Griqualand West at Bulawayo — still a national record for that wicket.

November 1956 provided Rhodesian cricket with a great treat with the arrival of the MCC, captained by Peter May, for matches at Bulawayo and Salisbury. At Queens Ground Mansell gained the distinction of becoming the first batsman to take a half-century off the tourists — this against the formidable attack of Tyson, Loader, Bailie, Wardle and Lock. After Rhodesia had made 192, the MCC gave a fine exhibition by reaching 407-7 (Richardson 100, May 124). Rhodesia batted again on the last day and at lunch had reached 86-2. Then came a torrential storm and not until four o'clock did play resume. MCC, thanks to Lock, made full use of the rain-affected pitch and the innings closed at 129, Rhodesia being the losers by an innings and 86 runs.

The beautiful Salisbury Sports Club grounds provided the setting for the second match, attended by a total of 26 000 spectators — the biggest ever for a cricket match in this country. On a perfect pitch Bailey and May revealed their class with a fourth wicket partnership of 301, May batting for 265 minutes to score his majestic 206. Rhodesia lost by an innings and 292 runs. Mansell also played for Rhodesia against Ian Craig's 1957-58 Australians at both Salisbury and Bulawayo, top scoring with 50 not out in the second match which Rhodesia lost by 10 wickets.

In 1958-59 it was back to Currie Cup cricket and the big test for newly promoted Rhodesia, who did superbly to finish joint second in the A Section with Natal and Western Province. Transvaal were just three points ahead. This was an extremely powerful Rhodesian side, eight men having played for South Africa. They were Tony Pithey, Chris Duckworth, Colin Bland, Percy Mansell, Paul Winslow, Godfrey Lawrence, Joe Partridge and David Pithey. Don Arnott had been chosen as reserve Test wicket-keeper while Harold Paton received a trial.Mansell ended his distinguished career with a flourish, playing a leading part in Rhodesia's thrilling two-run victory against Stuart Surridge's Surrey team in October 1959 at Salisbury, taking 13-120 in the match.

Let David Lewis, Rhodesia's greatest captain, sum up: "A great debt is owed to Percy Mansell for his outstanding and unselfish all-round contributions to the Rhodesian cricket scene over a quarter of a century of playing. There cannot have been a greater playing contribution by any one person."


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Cecil Victor Irvine

photo 5, Cecil Victor Irvine

Most men battle to distinguish themselves in one sport. To do so in four takes an exceptional talent. Such a man was C. V. Irvine. His name will always be held in high esteem, for he was unquestionably one of the greatest all-round sportsmen Rhodesia has known.

At national level he excelled at tennis, hockey, squash and cricket while also playing provincial soccer. Although his greatest single achievement came on the hockey field as Springbok captain in 1948, it was as a front-rank tennis player that C. V. was best known.

He was five times Rhodesian singles champion from 1940 to 1950 and clearly would have gained more titles had not the War intervened and cut all championships between the years 1941 and 1945. In fact, during the 1940s Irvine lost only one national singles final — to Jimmy Mackay in 1946, though he turned the tables on his rival in the following year to regain his supremacy on the country's courts until 1951, when he lost to Francis Rink in the semifinals at Bulawayo.

Immediately after the War, when stationed in the SRAF at Bulawayo, Irvine became Matabeleland champion and played for Rhodesia against Tony Mottram's British tourists in 1947 and, two years later, against Geoff Brown and his Australians.

But the most thrilling match he ever played was against the great American Vic Seixas at Salisbury in 1950 and those who witnessed it will always remember the Rhodesian heroic fight against one of the world's top players.

The Americans, who had just completed a strenuous tour of South Africa, came to Rhodesia only after much persuasion, Mr. Eustace Fannin finally arranging their visit after direct approaches to the USLTA and SALTU had failed.

The visitors included Seixas, Art Larsen, Doris Hart and Shirley Fry — all of whom achieved fame on international courts. Seixas was Wimbledon champion in 1953, in the era of Sedgman and Drobny, and mixed doubles champion four times in a row from 1953 to 1956 — on the first three occasions as partner to Hart and on the last as partner to Fry. Hart also won the mixed title with Frank Sedgman in 1951 and 1952 and the women's doubles with Fry for three straight years (1951-53). Hart (1951) and Fry (1956) were also Wimbledon singles champions.

Rhodesia's team to oppose the mighty Americans was D. J. 'Podge' Morris, A. J. 'Jimmy' Mackay, C. V. Irvine, Basil Katz, Fat Davenport, Gwendy Love and Eve Sladden. Nearly 2 000 spectators crammed round the court at Salisbury Sports Club when, on a bright, sunny day, Irvine and Seixas walked out to play the mainsingles match. The crowd were soon in high spirits when Irvine surprisingly ran up a 5-2 lead in the opening set. But, serving strongly and racing up to the net, Seixas levelled at 5-5 before each held service until 10 games all was called by the umpire. Irvine held on tenaciously and clinched the set at 12-10 after eighty minutes of thrilling rallies.

It was champagne tennis and. sensing a home victory, the crowd were in a frenzy of excitement However. Seixas adjusted himself to local conditions and rattled off a series of devastating aces to clinch the next two sets and the match.

At that stage of his career Seixas had one weakness. Whenever he attacked on the backhand, his return went down the line and never across court — an early discovery that enabled the shrewd Irvine to win many points at net Subsequently Seixas perfected his backhand crosscourt and triumphed at Wimbledon.

It was a new standard for the Rhodesians to encounter. Recalls C. V. Irvine: "For us to play mixed doubles against Seixas and Hart was no different from playing two men. The two women in the visiting team gave a beautiful display of power tennis, but our own Eve Sladden played magnificently to take a set off Shirley Fry."

C. V. and R. Vincent were great rivals in Rhodesian tennis, with Vincent getting the better of the struggle until C. V. beat him in 1940 to take his first national singles crown. Irvine won this match 7-5, 6-4,3-6. 6-3 in the year that Miss Leila Franklin was a triple crown winner.

Tennis was a booming sport in the country and records show that in 1947 there were 47 clubs and 2 000 registered players — the days when Dunlop Maxply rackets cost seventy-six shillings and sixpence and the most expensive squash racket was thirty-five shillings. By 1948 there were 3 000 players in Rhodesia, growing to 4 401 in 1949 and reaching a peak of 5170 members affiliated to clubs in 1953.

The British team which visited Rhodesia in 1947 was: A. J. Mottram, A G. Roberts, Mrs. B. E Hilton, Miss J. Cannon and Col. D. H. Powell (manager). In 1949 the Australians visited South Africa and four of them played exhibition games in Rhodesia en route to Wimbledon. Geoff Brown, George Worthington, Thelma Long and Joyce Fitch were superior to the Rhodesians in all aspects and played at Bulawayo, Livingstone, Salisbury, Umtali and on the Copperbelt to stimulate further countrywide interest in tennis. Their only two official matches were at Salisbury and Bulawayo when colours were granted to the Rhodesians, led by 'Podge' Morris.

Cecil Victor Irvine was born on 16 August 1916 at Cape Town and came to Rhodesia at the age of two. He was educated at Salisbury's Prince Edward School where he was an all-round sportsman of distinction, a tradition he maintained on leaving school in 1934. He played first-league cricket and hockey for Old Hararians, tennis for Salisbury Sports Club and soccer for Alexandra Club. In the short time between 1936 and 1938 he won Mashonaland colours for all four sports, gaining his national cricket cap in 1936. It was to be his only match, for he had to choose between cricket and tennis as his summer sport and he chose tennis

Irvine played hockey for Rhodesia from 1937 to 1950, except for the War years, and captained the team from 1947-49. His proudest moment was in 1948 when he was chosen to captain South Africa in the only Test against the touring Oxford and Cambridge Swallows. The Springboks, who included a second Rhodesian, Harold Downey, the lightning-fast wing, won 3-2 at Johannesburg.

Although a South African Hockey Union team had gone to Kenya and Uganda in 1938 (Rhodesians in that team were S. Hatfield, B. B. Napier, HMM Mackenzie and W. H. S. Cary) no Springbok colours had been awarded Thus C.V. Irvine gained notable distinction when he led South Africa against the Swallows on 4 September 1948.

He was the first Rhodesian to captain a Springbok team in any sport and his players were the first to be awarded official Springbok colours for hockey Rhodesians Alf Sager was a reserve but did not gain colours, having to wait until 1951 for this honour.

The full Springbok team was: G. H. Surtees, G. P. Fenwick, S. F. de Wet R. M. Pearse, C. G. Mitchel, W. R. Endean (vice-captain), P. A. Dobson , J Pickerill C V. Irvine (captain), H. Downey and F. Hilder. The Swallows were led by R. M. Argyle.

When he retired from hockey, C. V. Irvine gained another notable achievement when he became a Springbok selector the first time a Rhodesian had been appointed a South African selector for any major sport.

Squash did not attract C.V. until comparatively late in his career in his career, but such was his natural ability at ball games that he won the Rhodesian title in 1947 and 1949. He lost his title in 1948 to his hockey team-mate, Harold Downey but turned the tables on his rival in 1949, only to lose again in the 1950 final to David Hodgson

A quiet, unassuming man whose manner was always exemplary on and off the court or field, C. V. Irvine was married in 1942 to Jean Lilian Fairlamb of Bulawayo. They returned to Salisbury from Bulawayo after the War and their two children, Hank and Barbara, were also to excel at tennis. Hank won two Rhodesian singles titles (1967 and 1972) and also played in the 1968 and 1969 Davis Cup teams. However, in the early 1970s Hank emigrated to America where he became a successful tennis coach.

C.V. has always taken a deep interest in coaching tennis and as the new decade of 1980 dawned he could still be seen daily instructing youngsters at the Postals Sports Club. Even during his playing years he would frequently give up his time to coach, and among those he helped was the big-serving Basil Katz of Bulawayo.

When C. V. made a belated first and only appearance at Wimbledon at the age of thirty-five he and Katz travelled together and were the first Rhodesians to compete in the championship on those hallowed courts. On the strange grass surface they were both eliminated in the first round.

But C. V. Irvine had already carved a niche as one of the finest all-round sportsmen Rhodesia has known and his prowess will continue to be a legend.


Rhodesian championships - Singles: 1940, 1947,1948, 1949, 1950. No championships 1941-45. Men's doubles: 1939 (G. Hodder), 1940 (J. C. Crowther), 1949 and 1950 (both with A. J. Mackay). Mixed doubles: 1946 (L Holland), 1949 and 1950 (both with G. Love), 1952 (E. Sladden).

Internationals (for Rhodesia v. touring teams) — 1947 (Britain), 1949 (Australia), 1950 (America). Wimbledon - 1952.

Rhodesia — 1937 to 1950 (except for War years). Captain 1947-49.
South Africa — 1948 (one Test, Captain v. U.K. Swallows).

Rhodesian championships — Singles: 1947 and 1949. Runner-up: 1948 and 1950.

Provincial colours — Matabeleland (1937) and Mashonaland (1938).


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Monday, 16 January 2012

William Robert Fulton

Fulton William

Before World War Two, amateur boxing was thriving in Rhodesia and the man who stood head and shoulders above the rest as 'king of the ring' was Willie Fulton, who, when he retired at the age of thirty, had accumulated five South African senior lightweight titles in succession and two Empire Games Bronze Medals.

A thoroughbred Rhodesian, Fulton is recognised as the most outstanding amateur boxer this country has produced and he demonstrated his claw and durability by winning the South African crown fouryears in succession from 1936-39 and then retaining his title almost six years later when the first post-war South African championships were held at Bulawayo in 1946.

Born at Golden Kopje Mine, Sinoia, on 6 December 1916, William Robert Fulton was educated at Prince Edward School and the Bulawayo Technical School. His ring career was launched as a spindly fourteen-year-old in Bulawayo when, in 1930, he won the Matabeleland junior midgetweight championship and the Rhodesian junior championship on his birthday that year. The next year he took the Matabeleland junior flyweight title and was inter-schools lightweight champion, beating L. Sperring of Plumtree. He retained the Rhodesian junior title in 1931 and 1932.

His first senior success came in 1933 when he became Matabeleland featherweight champion by beating the national champion, T. L. Duff, when the referee stopped the fight in the second round.

In early 1934, Empire Games trials were held at Bulawayo and the blazing young Fulton, now eighteen, won the featherweight division by a TKO to gain selection as the only boxer in the first Rhodesian team to compete at an Empire

These were staged at London in August 1934 and the young Fulton had the arduous task of fighting three times in one night between 6.00 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. In the first round he beat McGregor of Scotland, but lost by a narrow margin to Springbok Charlie Catterall, who went on to win the Gold Medal. In the bout for third and fourth places, Fulton beat Tomlinson of Canada to win the Bronze Medal.

A. M. Nimmo (middleweight) had also been nominated for the London team but had not gained final selection, while J. Tsirindanis and V. Hyde also narrowly missed nominations.

Fulton's first Rhodesian senior title came in 1933 as a featherweight when he demolished J. J. Reid with a knock-out in the first round. He kept his crown in 1935

by beating N. Thai on a first round TKO, C. Edwards on a first round knock-out and D. McNeilage in the final. He also claimed his first South African title in 1936 by beating Hook (Natal), J. Brand (Transvaal) and finally Bushney (Transvaal) to underline his potency in the ring. It was an impressive display which won him the cup for the best boxer of the championships.

A report in the Bulawayo Chronicle said: "Fulton revealed a nicely balanced stance and drew his man or moved back neatly, exploiting a smart left and a criss-cross defence at times."

Fulton was not considered for the 1936 Olympics because he was not fit and did not take part in the Matabeleland championships. He would have been a certain choice, but another who was unlucky was lightweight R. Payne.

A powerful Transvaal team toured Rhodesia in 1937, including lightweight star. J. P. Brand, who had been runner-up to Fulton in the 1936 South African championships when the Rhodesian became only the third man to beat the hardy Transvaler. following C. Catterall and Bradley. The final match of their tour was against the combined Rhodesias which the local team won 3-1, Fulton beating Brand on a TKO in the fourth round. Andy Tsirindanis was another Rhodesian winner, beating H. Lotter on points, and reversing a decision gained earlier in the tour.

One report said: "Fulton fought like a machine against Brand, to take every round. He was wonderfully quick on his feet and showed a useful knowledge of ring-craft when avoiding Brand's attacks."

The national championships in 1937 were staged at the Salisbury Drill Hall in August and the crowd waited most expectantly for the welterweight final between Fulton and Andy Tsirindanis. Fulton had gone up a division and gave 5 lb. to Tsirindanis, who was still at Bulawayo Technical School. In each round of a fine fight the judges' cards showed Fulton only one point ahead to claim the title and win the cup for the 'best exponent of the British style of boxing'.

In September 1937 Rhodesia sent a team of nine to the South African championships at Johannesburg under manager Ted Charsley. The team was: A. Calder (Midlands, lightweight), J. Tsirindanis (Matabeleland, middleweight), W. Fulton (Midlands, lightweight), A. Tsirindanis (Matabeleland, welterweight), D. Linton (Midlands, light-heavyweight), D. Hendrickson (Northern Rhodesia, bantamweight), H. Oberholster (Matabeleland, featherweight), C. Shaw (Matabeleland, flyweight), L C. Finlayson (Mashonaland, bantamweight).

Five reached the semifinals, but only Fulton was a title winner, beating G. B. Moodie and Tommy Hamilton-Brown, the latter having been a Springbok in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games team. A. Tsirindanis was beaten by Transvaal's Jackie Hahn in the semifinals while J. Tsirindanis lost to his old rival Eddie Peltz, who was also at Berlin.

Rhodesia also fought Transvaal at the Pretoria City Hall a few days after the South African championships, the home team winning 5-3. Fulton was a winner again, beating P. Brand.

The Rhodesia Amateur National Boxing Association nominated four boxers for the Sydney Empire Games in February 1938. They were W. Fulton. J. Tsirindanis, A. Tsirindanis and A. S. Calder. Only Fulton and Andy Tsirindanis, the twenty year-old Bulawayo welterweight were ultimately chosen in the overall Rhodesian team of eight including two athletes and four girl swimmers Both boxers had been educated at Prince Edward and both had been trained by R. G. Daly of Bulawayo.

There were six contestants for the Empire Games lightweight title at the Rushcutters Bay Stadium when H. Groves (England) took the Gold Medal and H. Hurst (Canada) the Silver. Fulton took his second Games Bronze Medal.

In the preliminaries Fulton disposed of J. C. Stevens of New Zealand, and then took on the rugged Australian. Ian Ellis, who had been offered a professional contract just before the Games and was considered to be the best amateur prospect from his country for many years.

A Press report from Sydney summed up the fight: "Fulton secured a points victory after an aggressive display. He timed his blows well in the opening round and knocked Ellis down. In the second round Ellis gave a better display but in the final round Fulton swung the verdict with a succession of rights and lefts to the body and jaw."

A few hours later, the physically expended Fulton had to climb through the ropes again to face the British champion Groves, who was fresh after enjoying a bye. It was an unjust advantage and Fulton could not draw on any more strength and lost on points.

The same fate befell Tsirindanis, who had been beaten by South Africa's Hahn at the 1937 South African championships and now faced him in the very first round at Sydney. "I knew I had to go all out," said Tsirindanis. "So I went at him at a killing pace to earn a narrow decision."

The effort left him exhausted and a few hours later he had to meet the New Zealand champion Darcy Heaney — another who had had a bye and was fresh. The Rhodesian could not cope. The unfairness of this system was realised and at future Empire Games any man who had a bye had to have a fight against some opponent so that they were as physically extended as all other contenders.

Both Rhodesians were called to fight for third places three days later, Tsirindanis also winning a Bronze by beating Canadian champion Norm Dawson and Fulton beating Harry Hurst, who later successfully turned professional in

In June 1938 the Royal Air Force toured South Africa and Rhodesia, beating the combined Rhodesias 4-2 at the Bulawayo Drill Hall. The two local victories came from A. Tsirindanis, who beat W. G. Moseby, and Fulton, who beat A. C. Walker both in the welterweight division. The British visitors also beat Mashonaland 4-2, with Fulton beating Moseby (welterweight) and C. Sherwood winning his bantamweight class against R. Butterworth.

A happy tour was to end in tragedy when one of the RAF planes crashed on the way home from Rhodesia. Those who died were middleweight R. Moseby (aged twenty), lightweight R. Pring (who was unbeaten on tour), featherweight R. Boxshall (aged twenty-two), Mr. P. P. Peters (trainer) and two South Africans, Captain A. C. Koch and Sergeant M. P. Le Roux who had been accompanying the team.

Rhodesia toured Natal in June-July 1939, the team being: R. A. Payne (bantam), D. Hendrichsen (feather), W. Fulton (light), A. Tsirindanis (welter), J. Tsirindanis (middle), C. N. Foster (light-heavy), with manager, A. W. Crombie. These formidable Rhodesians engaged in fourteen fights on tour, losing only four.

However, their bid to win back the Wanderers Lamp which Natal had won in Rhodesia in 1938 failed when their match was drawn.

The trophy had been acquired in a curious fashion. While touring the New Wanderer Mine at Selukwe in 1938 the manager of the Natal team, Mr. Syd Gwillam, and a few of his boxers had lagged behind the main party to look at some rock formations. They lost touch with their guide and suddenly found themselves alone. Then one of the party sniffed something burning. "I know that smell," he said. "It's the burning fuse of a dynamite charge." The party were gripped by fear... and suddenly Mr. Gwillam felt his right leg grow warm. He looked down to find his safety lamp was hanging close to his trouser leg and was burning the cloth. To remind them of the trip the Natal team took the lamp away, the Rhodesians vowing they would soon get it back.

The 1939 South African championships were postponed for three months due to the War and were actually held in January 1940. At first they were designated 'war-time championships' without being given official South African status, but later they were given full status because of the high quality and large number of the entries.

J. Tsirindanis lost on points to the Cape's H. Lotter in the semifinals, while C. N. Foster took the heavyweight title, beating J. Botha of Transvaal on points. Willie Fulton again reigned supreme, taking the lightweight title by beating Percy Evans.

After the War, boxing soon regained its popularity and in 1945 a team went to the Rand, and included amongst others Bulawayo's Andrew Vercueil, who was to carve out a distinguished ring career. Fulton was still warding off all-comers thirteen years after taking his first Rhodesian title. The first post war South African championships were held at Bulawayo in September 1946 when Fulton won the lightweight title for the fifth time before retiring from the ring that year.

For his services to sport the Queen awarded Fulton the MBE in 1958. He also captained Rhodesia at soccer and in later years went on to play golf for the country to clinch a remarkable hat-trick of national sporting colours. The Fulton tradition has been continued with daughter Ann gaining national colours for golf, hockey and softball and twin son Arthur being a baseball Springbok.

- Byrom


ORAFs believes that Willy Fulton served on 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron as an Armourer during WW 2

Robb Ellis Writes:-

There will be few Rhodesians who do not remember Fulton & Evans, the sports shop.

The shops were begun by Willie Fulton.

The late Willie Fulton was my wife's uncle. Many people may also remember Bernie's late father, Alec, who lived in Mutare. We sadly lost him in 1996.

Willie was a well-known boxer and he trained and coached many pugilists.

Willie's widow, Grace, sadly passed away a couple of years ago, not long after she wrote and had published, her life story, "A Long Way Home". I purchased a copy of this book as a surprise for my wife, and she had hardly finished reading it when Grace passed away.

From Amazon: "Grace Fulton has written a very interesting story about her life in Rhodesia. Her grandparents arrived from Scotland in 1897 chasing gold and they settled in Bulawayo. Her early life was traumatic with her father committing suicide whilst suffering from black water fever and her mother was left with six children who were put into an orphanage. Fortunately life improved when her mother remarried and they moved to a ranch, horseback riding and spotting leopards. Grace met and married Willie Fulton who had just won a bronze medal in the Empire Games for boxing. Then WW2 saw Willie in Egypt and guarding the oil fields in Iraq, and her brother Alan Douglas , a spitfire pilot, saving Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Douglas Smiths' life over Sicily. Grace and Willy then started a successful sporting business, manufacturing and supplying sports goods. They met and hosted many sportspeople from all over the world as well as being involved in charitable sports training and events including at Kutama Mission where Robert Mugabe was educated. Willie was awarded an MBE from Queen Elizabeth for his service to sport. Grace and Willie had 3 children, all of whom had great sporting ability. Grace's story of keeping the family together during Willies' Alzheimer and his death, the loss of their business and home due to political changes in Zimbabwe makes for interesting reading. Grace now lives in Houston, Texas."

The last sentence is no obviously out of date.

Grace and Willie's children all live in America.

Cover, Book: Long Way Home

Grace Fulton's book link is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Way-Home-Grace-Fulton/dp/1425148433

ORAFs recommends that you also visit ABEBooks.com
http://www.abebooks.com/ to obtain this book

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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fred Hilton Morgan

2-Fred Hilton Morgan, Fred Hilton Morgan
Freddie Morgan at Bulawayo Rifle Range using S.M.LE. rifle.

A FAIR stint at the top of any sporting tree would be about twenty years and in many sports — like soccer, cricket and rugby — that would be a most generous allotment.

It is in this light that the remarkable career of Fred Hilton Morgan, MBE — Rhodesia's greatest Bisley marksman — must be considered. He won notable success on the range over an incredible span of fifty-four years, from the time he visited Britain in 1909 representing the Transvaal School Cadets through to 1963 when, at the age of sixty-nine, he won Rhodesia's (now Zimbabwe's) premier shoot, the Governor's Cup for the eighth time over almost a forty-year period (he first won it in 1924).

The high point of his shooting career, however, came when he was still a South African, as a member of the fifteen-man Springbok team which competed at the 1920 Olympic Games at Antwerp and then at the famous British Bisley. The team won second place in the world long-range championship at the Olympics after shooting off three times with America for the Gold Medal.

Then came the Imperial Prize Meeting at Bisley, a small village in Surrey, where the most prestigious event is always the Queen's (or King's) Prize — the blue riband of British and Commonwealth Bisley shooting. The 1920 winner is recorded as Sergeant F. Morgan of South Africa.

"I used a rifle I hired from the London Middlesex Rifle Club for ten bob," he recalled. "It had cobwebs in the barrel... and that's the truth. The day after I won the King's Prize I asked for the barrel to be tested for gauge. The famous Arthur Fulton tested it and his 304 gauge went right through... so did the 305,306 and 307 gauges. 'That thing's no use to you,' he told me, and he wouldn't believe I had just won the King's Prize with it and had never had a bad shot You can never tell by the look of a rifle."

The South African team, captained by Robert Bodley, won the coveted Kolapore Cup with a record score of 1111 and Bodley won five individual competitions at Bisley.

Freddie Morgan was born at Johannesburg and started shooting at the age of ten, competing in his first Bisley when he was twelve. In 1909, at the age of fifteen — "the rifle was level with my mouth" — he was sent to England by the Transvaal Government (before the Union of South Africa came into being). He was selected to represent the Transvaal School Cadets to accompany the senior Transvaal team at the English Bisley and the English cadet Bisley. He won the aggregate for cadets and the South Africa Cup for rapid shooting at 200 yards.

He got down to the more serious business of the Great War from 1914-18, then in 1920 enjoyed his golden year as a marksman when he became the supreme shot of the Commonwealth and also the first marksman from Africa to win the King's Prize. The feat was next achieved in 1939 by another South African, Sergeant Busschan. Both he and Mr. Morgan were from the same regiment the Witwatersrand Rifles.

On his return from overseas in 1921, Freddie Morgan settled in Rhodesia and continued his winning ways with a rifle. Between 1924 and 1963, besides winning the Governors Cup (now the President's Cup) eight times, he won the Queen's Medal five times and the Grand Aggregate on several occasions. As a Rhodesian, 1930 and 1935 were his vintage years. Apart from winning the Governor's Cup for the fourth time in seven years he also took the premier award in South Africa, the Governor-General's Cup (now the State President's Trophy). That, he reckons, was the best shooting he ever did. "There was an eight right to a fifteen left mirage," he recalled, "and it was impossible to read the weather, so it had to be rapid fire."

In 1935 at the South African Bisley at the Booysens Range at Johannesburg, Morgan made almost a clean sweep, winning six major prizes including the South African championships and the short-range aggregate. This confirmed that he was one of the supreme marksmen of Southern Africa.

After his first appearance at a British Bisley as a cadet in 1909 Freddie Morgan was to make his farewell appearance there fifty-one years later in 1960 as a member of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland rifle team. From a total of 1700 competitors he emerged winner of the Queen's Veteran Cup, the Wednesday Aggregate Challenge Cup, the Loader Challenge Cup, the Eric Fraser Challenge Shield, plus several silver medals in other competitions.

By 1963, he had decided to retire from top competition, but was a late entry that year for the Governor's Cup at Bulawayo. He had gone as a coach, but at the last moment filled in for the Gwelo Rifle Club team ... and amazingly won the country's premier trophy for the eighth time. "I didn't even bring a rifle," he said. "I had to borrow one from the armourer."

The nation's grand old man of shooting had proved he could still 'squint and squeeze' with the best but that was to mark the close of his shooting career. He had tasted victory in innumerable major shoots and had represented the country five times at the British Bisley. He had continued to be a champion over half a century, often beating men less than half his years in a sport which demands keen eyes and steady hands. He demonstrated that a man who keeps fit can remain young, even with advancing years and he was deservedly honoured with the MBE in the 1963 New Year's Honours List.

He also found time to represent Rhodesia at soccer (1922 and 1923) and cricket (1923 and 1924) and to win the novices section in the old Durban to Johannesburg motor cycle race. In 1945, when he was in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), he was a member of the Broken Hill Railways Bowling Club team which won the national fours championship, his colleagues being H. Summers, D. B. McLean and J. Tetley. But it was as a Bisley marksman that he lit the spark for a long line of champions to follow. The history of competitive shooting in Zimbabwe dates back to the days of the Pioneers — the Salisbury Rifle Club was formed in 1895 and the national association in 1908 — and Freddie Morgan can claim to have been one of its most illustrious members.

By 1980, when he had turned eighty-six, he had moved from Gwelo and was living with his wife Ellaline at Bulawayo. He died on 29 July 1980.

Hilton, their son, also brought honour to the Morgan name by gaining his Rhodesian and Springbok hockey colours and Rhodesian soccer colours. He was voted the country's Sportsman of the Year in 1957.

After Freddie Morgan, the most outstanding Bisley men in this country have been A. A. G. Cracknell (1955-74), D. Hollingworth (1954-79), F. Littleton (1936-63), K. H. Seager (1956-74) and J. S. Stoole (1950-74).

Other notable marksmen, with the years they were awarded national colours, have included:
W. F. Smith (1925), N. A. Fereday (1929), O. H. Templar (1929), L M McBean (1930), W. E. C. Owen (1930), A. M. Cumming (1933), D. Devine (1934), W. L Smith (1934), A. M. Butcher (1936), A. J. Branch (1937), L Fereday (1938) R O Blair (1948), W. R. Buchanan (1949), M. T. Heathcote (1950), S. J. G. Muir (1950), R. M. Amm (1953), W. D. Cook (1955), G. A. Smith (1958), E. A. Webb (1959), J. D. Waterworth (1960), E. J. Rosenfels (1962), W. Tarr (1963), M. Rosenfels (1965), R. A. Bone (1966), J. Edington (1969).



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Saturday, 7 January 2012

John Hopley

Pg1-1, John Hopley
Pg1-2, John Hopley Memorial
The magnificent bronze John Hopley Memorial Trophy, awarded since 1956 to Rhodesia's Sportsman of the Year, is a lasting tribute to a great man, a great sportsman and a great Rhodesian.
Though he played rugby in Rhodesia's 1914 Currie Cup team and died in the country he loved, it was in England that John Hopley distinguished himself best as an active sportsman.

Boxing was his forte and he was Cambridge and inter-varsity champion several times. A big, powerful man, Hopley commanded respect and awe in an unbeaten amateur ring career. He was regarded by many authorities as the 'white hope' in the era of Jack Johnson, the legendary man who was the first Negro to become world professional heavyweight champion.

But the two were never to clash, as Hopley was forever the champion of amateurism, though it was certainly no exaggeration that he would have been a worthy contender for Johnson's crown.

Eugene Corri, one of the world's leading boxing authorities of his day, wrote in one of his books: "1 have refereed or judged nearly every bout that John Hopley was ever in. The handsome, good-natured fellow was about the most popular man they ever had at Cambridge and they talk of him to this day as 'Prince of the Blues'. He stood alone."

In another book he wrote: "We never knew exactly how good a boxer Hopley was because only one of his opponents ever lasted three rounds. 1 must have officiated at almost all Hopley's serious contests and my un-exaggerated estimate is that he ended nine out of every ten fights in the first round . .."

Denzil Batchelor, in his book British Boxing, said simply that Hopley was "the most outstanding heavyweight boxer of his day, amateur or professional."

Bombardier Billy Wells, the British professional heavyweight champion, once sparred with Hopley and said: "I've seldom been hit so hard in all my life."

Frederick John van der Byl Hopley was born at Grahamstown, South Africa, on 27 August 1883, the elder son of Judge William Hopley (a close friend of Cecil Rhodes) and Annie Hopley, the former Miss van der Byl. He died at Salisbury on 16 August 1951, less than two weeks before his sixty-eighth birthday.

In 1915 he had married South African Joyce Pitout and their two daughters are still living in Salisbury. They are Mrs. Joan Lister and Mrs. Constance Lane.

Apart from his phenomenal boxing record, Hopley gained international Rugby Union caps for England against Wales and France in 1907, and Ireland in 1908. He returned to South Africa in 1908 and, seeking adventure, came to Rhodesia in 1910, within a few years establishing a farm in the Marandellas district

Soon after the 1914 War was declared, he again left for England to sign up and was commissioned in the Grenadier Guards, being awarded the DSO at the battle of the Somme for gallantry in the field. At the end of the War he returned, with his wife, to his farm in Marandellas, Fair Adventure.

On his death, a friend wrote: "John Hopley carried an aura of goodness about him, which, together with his great charm, brought out the best in those men and women with whom he came into contact"

It is most fitting that such a man should be remembered with pride by all Zimbabweans when the John Hopley Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to Zimbabwe's Sportsman of the Year.
Pg-COver, Cover of the book

Glen Byrom


Please note that is is an on-going construction blog.
Please bear with me.

Book Details

Cover-1, Glen Byrom
((Above): GLEN BYROM. sports editor of The Herald since 1971, was born in Salisbury in 1944 and attended Prince Edward School where he played 1st XV rugby, at wing and centre, in 1961.
On leaving school he immediately graduated to the first league with Old Hararians and, at seventeen, was one of the youngest players to represent Mashonaland. making his debut on a tour of the Copperbelt. He also represented Rhodesia under-twenty for three years.

While at school he won his athletic colours and held an Inter-schools hurdles record for more than a decade.

Byrom entered journalism In 1961, serving in turn with The Herald Central African Post. Lusaka, and The Sunday Mail before taking up his present appointment As cricket and rugby correspondent he has reported on numerous tours to South Africa In 1968 he was seconded to the Argus Group's London Bureau where he covered such world-renowned events as the FA Cup Final, the European Cup Final, the Rugby League Cup Final the first Open Wimbledon, the British Open Golf Championship, the Australia-England Cricket Tests, and the World XI Cricket Tour.

In 1972 he reported on the Munich Olympic Games, from which Rhodesia was expelled, and in 1980 he covered the Moscow Olympics.

Cover--3, Henk van Rooyen

(Above) : HENDRIK (HENK) VAN ROOYEN. illustrator of this work, hails from the Orange Free State where he was born in 1935. After matriculating in Johannesburg in 1953, worked for his Teacher's Diploma at Heidelberg. Transvaal and then studied the Witwatersrand School of Art for two years

He held teaching posts in Johannesburg and Cape Town before moving to Rhodesia in 1971 to take up a position as art teacher at Churchill School. He did freelance illustrating for magazines in South Africa and is well known in Zimbabwe for his drawings of sports personalities.

Cover-4, Dave MacDermott
(Above): DAVE MCDERMOTT came to Rhodesia in 1951 — the year of his birth in Cape Town.

He attended Ellis Robins School, Salisbury, and entered journalism with the Umtali Post in 1970. Three years later he joined the sports department of The Herald, reporting mainly cricket, rugby, hockey and boxing.

He was appointed sports editor of The Sunday Mail in 1975, but returned to The Herald as deputy sports editor the following year, and in 1980 became chief sub-editor.

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