Peter Woodroofe 

 

JH Rodgers presentation

 


From Moseley Matters, January 2008

Peter was always the first to say that it would be belittling to the efforts of all those other committed club people who organised the defeat of the Oxford move and who have delivered the progress of the club over the last five years, to suggest that he was the reason for the club's present position.

However it is undoubtedly true that without the momentous conscience troubling decision he took at the Grand Hotel in August 2002 and the invaluable contribution he has made over the last thirty years, the club would not be here now in its current form.

As club president, Derek Nutt, said after the Northampton match in December 2007  'Peter dreamed of an occasion like this with several thousand people in the ground and Northampton being the visitors. With that one single act of generosity (by his vote at the Grand Hotel, which also wrote off the debt due to him) he kept our club together and without which we would not be here today. Hopefully the match and the occasion were fitting tributes to him.'

Peter Woodroofe can rest assured and contented that he made the right decision in August 2002.

A true clubman

Former club president, benefactor, quietly diligent club worker and Moseley Matters contributor, Peter Woodroofe passed away at 11.50 pm on December 27th. Peter had been in poor health for over a year. Despite this, he continued to provide his weekly Big Match Preview (BMP) and articles for the programme up until early December.

Peter's BMP has been one of the best-read and most enjoyed parts of the club's website and of Moseley Matters. His unrivalled and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Moseley and rugby in general never failed to provide fascinating facts and background about the forthcoming match and to whet the appetite of our own supporters and those of the opposition.

More significantly all those present will never forget the Grand Hotel in August 2002 when Peter's casting vote stopped Moseley Rugby Club moving to Oxford. As a director of Moseley Ventures, which he had also supported financially, Peter was obliged to support the proposed move and wrestled with his conscience. Finally he came down on the side of the club's many members, supporters and players and voted against the proposed move at personal financial cost.

It is true to say therefore that our great club with its sixteen teams and a rugby centre of excellence now at Billesley Common would not be in existence today if it was not for Peter.

The club sends its sincere condolences to Peter's wife Ethel and family. We will all greatly miss Peter and the huge contribution he has made to the club, as president, benefactor, writer, Moseley Matters contributor and as loyal a servant to the club as anyone could ever wish to have met.

Some personal reflections

Former club treasurer and now Moseley director, Alan Adam recalls with great affection Peter's initiation into Moseley Rugby Club's affairs thirty years ago:

'At that time, I was struggling to balance a professional business career, play a few games for any team in the club that would have me and dealing with the increasing burdens of being honorary club treasurer, an onerous responsibility in those days. A plea for assistance went out and along came this friendly, slightly shy man, who along with Mark Bevan and Bob Brown provided such much needed help.

'Working into the late evening in what now seems like the Dickensian club office, handwriting the club's books while getting warmth from a small heater we had many a humourous moment until a few years later Peter very kindly relieved the burden completely by taking over the club treasurer's position himself. Without that help I do not know what would have happened.

'Peter's contribution to all aspects of Moseley's administration over ensuing years was finally and fittingly acknowledged with his election as club president despite him not having played for the club itself, a fact, which with typical modesty, had troubled him. He then became an important part of Simon Cooper's Moseley Ventures (MVL) consortium which itself saved the club in the late 1990s.

'Peter and I also had a number of conversations prior to the vote at the Grand Hotel in 2002 when of course my own preference for his vote was being made clear! It was evident the decision greatly troubled him as he was also a director of MVL and had a responsibility to the club's then other creditors as well.

'Over the last, subsequent, five years and especially after a good win at Billesley, we would often have a quiet drink together. I would always ask somewhat rhetorically and completely unconnected with any earlier conversation 'Well Peter, was it the right decision?' Without any other reference or expansion being necessary, a wry smile would slowly creep across his face and without a word being spoken there would be the comforting confirmation that the battle his heart won over his conscience had been the correct one. It most certainly was one essential to, and appreciated by, everyone at the club. We will all miss him.'

Moseley second row stalwart, Alex Hadley adds his appreciation:

'Peter was one of my favourite Moseley men, his humour and gentle way of speaking was always welcome after a tough win or in a disappointing defeat.

'I first met him in 1999 along with his best pal Brian Skeeles after joining the first team squad. They were thick as thieves and come rain, shine, win or loss were ever present. He became a friend to my father who used to go to away matches on the supporters' bus and my father said Peter was always a welcoming face and was great to chat to as his knowledge of Moseley Football Club was so vast.

'In my opinion Peter was a major contributing factor for the club's survival and he will be sadly missed by me and the rest of the players, club officials and hard core supporters that knew him. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends and of course his best mate Brian.'

Former co-director of, and shareholder in, Moseley Ventures and another Moseley benefactor, Stan Llewellyn writes:

'This is a sad loss to all who knew Peter, a kind, gentle and sincere man. Whilst on the board of MVL we spent many an hour with Peter agonising over the future of Moseley but a solution always prevailed, very often with Peter's enormous generosity and love for Moseley Rugby Club coming to the rescue. He was a clubman through and through. My condolences and love to Ethel and family at this sad time.'

Old friend and former Moseley finance supremo in the 1990s, Joe Heaton, recollects some other interesting facts about Peter;

'In his bachelor days Peter lived a totally different life outside cost accountancy and rugby. On most Friday evenings, when Moseley were not playing at home, he went down to London's theatreland and, in the 1960's, the developing world of satire epitomised by 'That Was The Week That Was'. His interest in theatre was derived from his mother who was a lead singer in Midlands Opera.
 
'Peter was a script and theatre programme writer and also wrote a short play for which he received an award. He was a part-time member of staff at RADA and latterly provided a counselling service to students at RADA who had personal problems. Peter also wrote after dinner speeches for notables who lacked a sense of humour! (Ethel has advised that at RADA Peter met and wrote a speech for Marilyn Monroe-Ed)

It is an amazing story but even more improbable is the fact that in his youth Peter was the drummer in a traditional jazz band called the 'Gut Bucket Six' who used to play at the dances run by Birmingham University's Student's Guild. (Apparently on one occasion, Peter got so carried away with his drumming that the main artist turned round and asked who's concert is this!-Ed)


Mike Pollak, a key member of Moseley's communications team since the Grand Hotel vote provides an appreciative view of Peter's more recent contribution to the club:

'I worked closely with Peter over the past five years as he produced his weekly Big Match Preview and match programme notes. My job was just to type up what Peter had hand-written and email it onwards to those producing Moseley Matters and the programme.

'Peter relished his weekly task of putting together a wonderfully well-informed preview that effortlessly spanned our opponent's history, players to watch out for, previous encounters, and of course quirky anecdotes and humorous asides. He could never resist an apposite intro such as that for the game against Doncaster last season: 'It's going to be quite a joust on Saturday when the newly named Doncaster Knights sally forth from their Castle (Park) to do battle with Moseley in a National One encounter providing good sport for spectators bearing the colours of their teams.'

'He could be relied upon, too, to remember player connections between clubs going back decades and it was Peter who provided chapter and verse about the long-lost Moseley Cup that was resurrected when Coventry moved to the Butts Arena and was played for when the two teams met again last season.

'Where he got his up-to-date information from was a miracle to me-he had no internet access and was computer illiterate. Much of it he carried in his head, but his tiny office, converted from what was probably his bungalow's cloakroom, was crammed floor to ceiling with reference books, old programmes, 'Rugby Times', 'Daily Telegraph' sports pages and his own notes from years past.

'That's apart from the overflow archive material that was housed in a lean-to and in his conservatory and occasionally prompted a gentle inquiry about its permanence from his loving and accommodating wife Ethel. Peter considered reorganising the archives as work in progress.

'Peter always wrote his copy with a fountain pen in a small, meticulous, double-spaced script on foolscap ruled paper. Once written, Ethel would unfailingly walk round with the copy and push it through my letterbox every Monday afternoon. It would run to up to ten pages and rarely had a crossing out or insert and there were only a handful of occasions when I needed to check a fact while typing up the copy.

'Typically, if I did ring Peter for clarification he would say that it raised a very interesting question and he would check the detail and get back to me. Half an hour later he would ring to confirm or amend the original fact-he was generally right in the first place-and hit me with a wealth of further detail and anecdotes that he hoped I could find a space for in the preview. This always included some new gems.

'There was no such thing as popping in for five minutes on Peter and Ethel. You would be ushered into their lounge with its painting of The Reddings on the wall and a Moseley scarf over the back of a chair and be plied with home-baked cakes, sausage rolls, biscuits, tea, or perhaps something stronger.

'Once the conversation inevitably turned to rugby and Peter's beloved Moseley you could reckon on an hour's discussion, minimum. During that time, Peter would inevitably take a couple of calls from Moseley stalwarts such as long-standing friend Bryan Skeeles, or a local journalist or one from the 'Rugby Times' tapping into his wealth of rugby facts and figures. He was in his element, his face lighting up with the joy of it all, but above all, Peter just loved the ethos of rugby, its traditions, the people and the camaraderie. He believed its values represented all that is best in life.

'Despite Peter's immense contribution to the club and its communications, he was always unfailingly modest about his efforts. Well, let me say, they were immense. And in five years, he never failed to deliver copy that was entertaining, correct and on time-he was a joy to work with, a great friend and a true gentleman.'
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Much of the historical content of this website would not be here without Peter's patient and meticulous recording of the club's history. Contributions were always delivered in his calming and encouraging manner. For all his support over the years, the website team are truly grateful, and deeply saddened at this loss.
 

 

Brian Skeeles's eulogy at Peter's funeral on Tuesday 8th January 2008.