THE MOSELEY MOLE
Puts you in the Picture on Past Players
We are always keen to hear how our former team-mates are faring in their post-Moseley worlds. Please let me know if you have tales that may be of interest to a wider audience - and, if possible, a photo or 2 as these always help to revive memories. You can drop a note or speak to one of the MPA Committee (Contacts - see the foot of the MPA News sub-menu) who will pass on the information.
Profiting from the past
The times they are a-changing. In days gone by, conversation between former Moseley forwards Tony Bertram and John Nolan was likely to be along the lines of “John, if the ref isn’t gonna sort out that prop, you’ll have to do it”. But there were some well-hidden talents that were slowly being nurtured in the intellectual hot-house that could be found at Moseley.
Now and again we caught glimpses of the burgeoning talents. Take for example the trip organised by former market trader Bertie to Dublin to see the England v Ireland international. A dozen team-mates were persuaded by his silver tongue to take this trip on the basis that he had tickets for game - only to reveal 3 hours before the game started that the tickets didn’t exist.
To the rescue came Big John, fresh with ideas and get-up and go. Cardboard signs pleading for spare tickets were quickly created, hung around the necks of everyone on the trip and all were instructed to drink their way around the Dublin bars in the hope that spare tickets would be offered. Amazingly every single person got into the game and no-one paid more than face value for the tickets!
Bertie and Big John were clearly honing their talents on their unsuspecting colleagues at Moseley.
So fast forward 40 years to a box at the Moseley v Jersey game, the Visiting Professor in Early Childhood at Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Universities is deep in conversation with the Visiting Professor of Innovation at Birmingham University discussing the challenges of playing against Matson in the 1970s. Yes 2 Professors, Tony Bertram and John Nolan, who have profited from the sort of education that only Moseley Rugby Club could give.
When he won the Birmingham Press Club Award for Business Journalist of the year in 2012, John Duckers kept his triumph quiet. John, an MPA member and avid supporter of Moseley and Moseley Oak, obviously felt that having to share the award with fellow hack Jon Griffin was a sort of score-draw rather an emphatic win for the home side.
His competitive instincts were raised and he needed to find a way to get his hands on this prestigious title all for himself. The answer – a penalty shoot-out. Now if this had been converting penalties from the 22m line then my money would have been on Duckers’ big wellies to see him through. But this was a shoot-out in front of 33,000 football fans as part of the half-time entertainment at the recent Villa versus Man City game. An altogether different prospect – but at least it was all in a good cause, the Acorns Children’s Hospice
Did our man prevail, despite being challenged on a foreign field? 2 shots on target and one to entertain the fans wasn’t enough to see him through. It was matched by arch rival Griffin. So John’s a bit hacked off and the matter is unresolved. Still, a joint holder of the Business Journalist award is not to be sneezed at - he’s a hack toff in our eyes.
Art Course to Rugby
The old image of a rugby player promulgated by books such as the “Art of Coarse Rugby” is happily changing but it is still difficult to think of any players who have progressed into the world of art.
Back in the 70s Tim Dann was a student who joined the club as a winger in the Nomads and Wanderers. I don’t suppose his colleagues in the team asked too much about his student studies – he was a winger so he probably did some airy-fairy subject that meant that he didn’t get his hands or kit dirty.
In fact, Tim was studying fine art and sculpture under some of the leading artists at Birmingham School of Art. After graduating, Tim went into set design, first with the BBC and then as a freelance. His work covered many well-known TV dramas, films and commercials. This meant that he had to move from the Midlands, but he has still kept in touch and is a regular attendee at the annual reunion.
In recent years Tim has focused back on his original interests of art and sculpture. Particularly prominent is an African theme which reflects the fact that he spent some of his childhood in Africa and owns a house there.
This year Tim is to take up the post of 'Artist in Residence' in the 'Galana Conservancy' an area of 60,000 acres of bush & acacia thorn on the eastern edge of 'Tsavo East' National Park in Kenya. This 'Residency' will be between 12 & 16 weeks duration and afterwards he will be staging an exhibition of the works completed, together with a dinner & auction. Proceeds will be given to the Galana Conservancy & its community outreach projects to help fund their vital plans for the future. If you are interested you can contact Tim through his web-site.
A little older & a little more honoured – Mike Leek OBE
With all of the Jubilee celebrations last year, we seem to have been distracted and completely missed Past Player Mike Leek on his way to another Moseley score.
In last year’s Jubilee Honours List former player and MPA member, Mike Leek, was awarded the OBE for services to sport for disabled children, and to the community in Solihull and Birmingham. Mike is life-time president of Shirley Golf Club where he has provided golf training for over 3500 disabled children, whilst raising £80,000 for disabled golf provision. He was also instrumental in raising £1m for a scanner at his local hospital and the £2m needed to build the Andrew Cohen Care Home in Birmingham.
At 82 Mike is one of our older members but still remembers with fondness his years playing at Moseley, especially with that youngster – “offside” Dave Bucknall (who was also recently awarded an OBE). There is clearly something in playing for this club that makes the players a truly honoured bunch. Our congratulations to Mike on the recognition he has received.
But that is not all! He is still organising coaching for disabled youngsters through Shirley Golf Club. There must be many members of Moseley who are golf enthusiasts and would be interested in joining Mike and his team at Shirley. If you are, then please contact Mike at Shirley Golf Club. He assures me that they have all the necessary aids to enable volunteers to make an effective start. So go to it you golfers!
Peter Pan - Iron Man - Moseley Man - OBE
Does he never stop? After having a wonderful retirement celebration at the Moseley clubhouse in September Dave Bucknall is in the news again. The Peter Pan of the business world has been awarded the OBE in the latest New Years Honours List for services to the construction industry.
Dave had an illustrious career in the construction industry managing the construction of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the NIA and ICC as well as the restoration of Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire. He may have given up as Chairman of global cost consultancy firm Rider Levett Bucknall but at 74 he is still Chairman of an RICS professional section plus the Birmingham and Black Country Community Foundation. For most people this would be enough – but not Dave.
As we can confirm from his appearances in the touch 7-a-side competitions before some of the recent MPA re-union lunches, Dave likes to keep himself fit. Having already completed more than 25 marathons, a cycle ride from Lands End to John O’ Groats and numerous other charitable endurance tests, it is now reported that he is in training for an Iron man challenge. It makes me tired just thinking about it!
I can recall seeing Dave in his later playing days wrapping himself around the chest with enough tape to embalm an Egyptian mummy before stepping out of the dressing room to lock horns in the front row as a hooker. I did think that perhaps the need for all that tape might be a pointer that retirement from such physical exertions might be on the cards. How wrong can you be!
Our congratulations to Dave and we look forward to once again seeing him at this year’s Re-union lunch on 20 April.
Many Happy Returns
There are many Moseley supporters who probably thought that the visit to Jersey last September was the first by a Moseley side. And it is true that the first team records show no previous fixture. But, if you are lucky, you may overhear some of the clandestine discussions between older members of the MPA about their exploits on a memorable tour to Jersey by those Moseley players not blessed with the skills to play in the first team squad. This took place some 40 years ago and was the precursor to Junior Tours at Easter to number of exotic places during the ‘70s and ‘80s across Europe and North America.
Now the Mole is not about to break the Rugby omerta that ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ but it must have been a good trip because, whilst seniority seems to have diminished the ability of people to recall the score in the game against Jersey, they can still remember vividly many of the accompanying “incidents”.
St Helier’s hospital did brisk business as a result of the injuries sustained during the match to players such as Andy Robinson, Karl Amatniaks and John Duggan. These point to a hard fought game but certainly never prevented the touring party from fully experiencing the pleasures that Jersey had to offer. The Jersey police must also have been charmed by the team as their understanding approach to some of the “incidents” was probably rather more relaxed than you would find these days.
And today the memories of Moseley still linger with at least one Jersey resident. Alan Rouse, one-time of Moseley and now living in Jersey, was a key part of the organisation behind that tour. It was great to see him at the September Championship game to reminisce about past glories and renew the links. He still cherishes the memories of Moseley and that tour.
At the start of 2013 we welcome Jersey to Billesley on their somewhat belated return fixture. We wish them well but a result similar to that we achieved at their place in September would be even more welcome.
A head but no tail
Some people never seem to change from the day they first set foot in the clubhous to the day they draw their pension. Others undergo some magical transformation as they become a little older and a little wiser.
But we have found one person who seems to have taken on at least 5 different personas. From wild and aggressive Welshman in his early playing days at the Reddings, he turned into a stroppy and opinionated selector for the Moseley Junior sides. His surprising mutation into a romantic teddy-bear on his marriage to Kate was followed by an almost normal phase as he played the role of gushing granddad.
But it couldn’t last - and retirement brought with it his Bohemian Rhapsody, with hairstyle to match. Yes, Taff Hughes seems to enjoy re-inventing himself. What next we ask?
Some people may have been distressed by the sight of a man of advancing years sporting a scraggy pony-tail. But fear not, because now it has gone. And the Mole has the evidence.
Before: After: The Tafftail
Taff has had his locks shorn in order to raise funds for Help the Heroes. His target is £2000 and he has raised over £1000 already. If you would like to help Taff reach his target then you can contribute by going on the web to www.justgiving.com/Taff-Hughesor just google “Taff Hughes Help for Heroes”
Over for the game?
It’s a while since we have seen Simon Nicholas Hope Cooper, former hooker,” determined entrepreneur” and long-time supporter of Moseley. Hidden away in his Swiss playground and tax retreat, his multiple directorships in companies with diverse interests must leave him little time to visit us in Brum.
It was with delight therefore that I heard recently that he was coming over for the game. We had the welcome mat out and a pint ready for him. Little did I realise that the “game” consisted of taking a pop at poor defenceless birds (of the feathered variety). He was to be found laying bare the moors of Yorkshire like a latter-day Mad Max.
The Mole was concerned that his loyalties to Moseley may be waning as his latest foray was in the company of rival Leeds rugby players. But a quick look at the profile of people in one of his companies – Legion Sports – dispelled any concerns. There, profiled amongst his team, were a number of names familiar to old Moseley players, including Steve Boyle, Iain Hall and Bruce Rankine.
Perhaps I should drop Simon a note to see if he has a vacancy for a talented writer and mole.
It would be really good if he could take time off from his jet-set lifestyle to join us at the Annual Re-union on 14 April.
Finally, I started looking for a photo but the secretive Mr Cooper seems to want to hide his current appearance from inquisitive sorts like myself. But we did manage to get a still from a 2009 You Tube of “Stavros Cooper” dancing for charity at his summer holiday hide-away on Corfu. (Does You Tube keep these clips forever?)
As a result of my contribution in last week’s issue – for which I am still awaiting assistance from you, dear readers – I have received the following note purporting to come from the Malta Police Cold Case Division. I duly passed it to the editorial team, which felt bound to publish it in case any of our readers could help in this matter and because we know that there were Moseley Junior Tours to Malta in the late 1970s.
However, I am sure that any Moseley Touring Team members would have been on their best behaviour and could not possibly have committed gross misdemeanours of the type described. The photo seems to be of some drunken hippies who are probably detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure for unspeakable alcohol fuelled offences!
Your photo of a barefaced rogue of 1978 in a recent edition reminds me that our Police Dept is still looking for information about the three ne’er-do-wells, above, wanted for underwater cycle races in a swimming pool, numerous traffic violations and terrifying Entebbe-style raids. We would be grateful for any information on their whereabouts.
Supt. Dom Claytoff
Malta Police, Cold Case Division
A Picture with No Story
(Warning Explicit Content!)
Sometimes the Mole is desperately looking round for a picture to go with the story we have to tell. But this week it is a case of having a picture but no story!
I am told that this is a photo from a Moseley Easter Tour and the tall guy in the Moseley alternative strip looks like Brett Robinson or is it Nick Jeavons? But I have no idea who the no. 2 is, with the neat line in cut-away shorts and matching jock-strap.
I feel there must be a story to tell here so I have I have used a little imagination to try to paint a picture of what life must have been like for a poor young Moseley player who has to retrieve old shorts from the dustbin so that he can play.
Let’s call this young tyro Adam Allen. Adam loves the game and joins Moseley to further his playing ambitions with the best club in the Midlands. He is a hooker full of confidence in his own ability, never ever having lost a strike on his own head – unless one of his props has cocked things up! But he has arrived at the club at a time when the 1st XV is flush with excellent hookers.
Adam strives to make his mark and is eventually invited on the Easter Tour to foreign lands. He is desperate to go but how can he afford to pay for this? He pawns all of his best clothes and possessions to raise the money and goes to the Oxfam shop for replacement clothes and kit.
He is thrilled to be on tour but the Oxfam shop and sartorial elegance don’t go hand in hand. The lurid kipper tie he wore was well out of fashion even in those days and earned him the nickname “Kipper”. None of this concerns Adam “Kipper” Allen. He is selected for the first game and impresses his hosts with how well he can talk a good game.
To be continued…
If you know of this person and can let the Moseley Mole know the truth behind this picture then we would be pleased to hear from you.
Former Moseley prop Chris Morrell receives his MBE
Readers of Moseley Matters may recall the very first piece on former players produced by the elusive and secretive Moseley Mole! It featured former Moseley prop and Birmingham Rowing Club stalwart Chris Morrell, who was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for services to school sport. In case anyone missed it, here it is again.
“Remember Chris Morrell that powerful Moseley 1st XV prop from the early 70s? He decided to give up the good life of accountancy and wild times on the rugby pitch for sticking his oar in with young boys.
He left the Midlands to become a teacher and continued his obsession with rowing. Well, whilst the Mole was scanning the Queen’s Birthday Honours list this year to check if he had been made a Knight of the Realm, who should he espy but Chris Morrell being awarded the MBE?
Now teaching at Windsor, the Windsor Boys School Boat Club says: “For 36 years Chris has inspired and motivated boys to succeed. His dedication to the boat club and school sport has now been recognised by him being invested with an MBE. Current boys and old boys alike will be immensely proud to hear this fantastic news. Chris continues to give his all, teaching boys not just rowing but also many key life skills such as hard work and commitment”.
Well done Chris. I’m sure all of the experience at Moseley stood you in good stead.
Chris duly attended Buckingham Palace on Thursday 9th February for the investiture, which was carried out by HRH Prince Charles who took a keen interest in Chris’s wonderful years of service at Windsor Boys School. We have yet to see any photos of this historic occasion and are just hoping that Chris managed a change of clothes, as it is not easy to see where a medal might be pinned in the photo found by the Mole!
Chris was allowed to invite three people to witness the investiture and, in addition to his sister Mary-Rose and her husband, he had invited his long time rugby and rowing clubs friend Annie Smith some weeks ago to be his third guest.
It is Annie’s husband Peter to whom a tribute recently appeared in Moseley Matters and we are delighted to know that she thoroughly enjoyed her day at the Palace, on what must have been a day of mixed emotions. As for photos of Chris in a suit, if they exist, we will get hold of them!
A Moseley Mole Mystery:
The Case of the Missing Invitation
They seek it here, they seek it there;
In the stands and under the chair.
An excellent do of wine and fare
But the invite’s lost; the post box bare.
Well we all knew that John Nolan reluctantly gave up his Chairmanship of the MPA a couple of years ago to prepare for becoming President of the Institute of Structural Engineers for 2012. It seemed a feeble excuse at the time but, never mind, I was sure he would remember his old buddies when it came to a bit of free food and drink, courtesy of the ISE. Bryan Skeeles had envelopes printed and ready to send out the invite for his inauguration party to all MPA members. But where has the Invitation gone??
We now learn that el Presidente has had his party at the Metro Bar in Birmingham but the MPA invites seem to have been overlooked. He and Valerie will now have the ordeal of visiting the 27,000 ISE members in 105 countries around the world with all expenses paid - but without MPA members being able to wish them well.
I wondered if he had forgotten about his old mates. So I looked at his inaugural address and there it was - the mention of his playing days at Moseley. He told the assembled throng that as a result of a serious rugby injury he “was able…to devote all of (his) time to studying for that year” which helped him get a good degree. He makes it sound as though he had been spending hours every day toning up his physique to meet the vigorous demands of rugby. Now I admit that memories do fade but I think that is probably stretching a point.
Nevertheless we wish him well in this important role and no doubt he has something up his sleeve to treat his old mates and MPA members later on in the year.
The Illusive International
You won’t find him anywhere in Ewart Patrick’s Moseley History but he played in 6 Internationals for Scotland and was at Moseley for a couple of years. He was a No. 8 who could read the game and be at the heart of play without seeming to exert himself but he never played for the First XV. Who is he?
Alasdair Hugh Wilson Boyle, better known to his team-mates in the Wanderers as Ali Boyle. Ali played for Scotland from 1966 to 1968. He arrived in Birmingham in the late 70s after qualifying as a doctor and obviously had a fixation with bodily functions. At the week-end he stuck his head between the second-rows’ hairy backsides and during the week he did something similar as a gynaecologist.
Ali insisted on playing only for the Wanderers (the 4th XV at the time) and training was out of the question due to doctorly constraints. But he threw himself into Club life being a regular member of the Thursday Night Club team which was notorious for all of the normal “coarse rugby” antics – I am not sure that his discussions with fellow gyno’ Finian about the scars on the strippers torsos ever added much to the entertainment though. He was also one of the party for the second Junior Tour to Malta in 1978 where his expertise meant that Tony Bertram recovered from septicaemia and continued to captain the Wanderers.
Ali moved on to be a consultant at the North Devon Hospital in Barnstaple but has recently retired which has given him the chance to visit old pals. A visit in 2010, when he gave up his entitlement for a seat at the Scotland v England International to be with his Moseley mates, was followed by another visit last October as a birthday treat.
We hope to see him more in the future and perhaps he will bring his famous daughter Susan Boyle with him. (He denies any connection but the resemblance is there for all to see)
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