AB Tour Diary; Catch up days 19-20 November 2014

AB Tour Diary; Catch up days 19-20 November 2014

Keith Quinn in Stow-on-the-Wold with the great 'Gus' Risman. See story.....

20 November 2014

Wednesday November 19 2014

A lazy day of touring for our team down from the Lake Districts today all the way to Cheltenham on the edge of the Cotswolds. If I add that we had a stop for lunch at Stratford-Upon-Avon then you'll forgive me for starting to believe that we are only staying at the really big name places on our tour.

It got even better when we ended our day at one of the most magnificent hotels I have ever seen. On the edge of Cheltenham we checked into the imposing 16th century luxury Ellenborough Park Hotel. We are here for two nights and we ARE heading towards the weekend test match with Wales in Cardiff - but tonight all 80 of the Quinn and Loveridge tour groups ate and lay their heads down in great comfort and warmth.

Thursday November 20 2014

This might sound like a repeating record but today we had another very enjoyable day of touristy touring. This time it was around the Cotswolds, starting our from our glorious hotel in Cheltenham and heading towards places like Cirencester, Lechdale and then Burford for lunch. Along the way we passed many of the honeycombed houses and scenic sights of one of England's true beauty tourism areas.

When the bus made a mid-afternoon 'comfort stop' in a quaint place called Stow-on-the-Wold I gave a quick nod to a good touring bloke called Gordon Scott.

Gordon is from Waimate and his name is mentioned here on this site a few times whenever rugby questions are asked. That's because invariably he knows the answers! The bloke's knowledge of rugby is quietly impressive.

The nod we exchanged was in the direction of the local White Hart hotel of the village. It was right there. We felt the need to slip in for a quick look. Thirst on a holiday is a terrible thing!

Such a quick visit was possible because the rest of our touring buddies were either off shopping or heading to the bathrooms. As Gordon and I quietly supped away, while all the while eyeing the bus and its imminent departure, we noticed a large framed photo on the wall.

It was a great shot, taken in 1936. In it was one of the world's great rugby league players, Augustus 'Gus' Risman. We admired it so much (and because Gordon and I both knew of him) the pub owner allowed us to lift the picture off the wall for us to pose with. 'It's been sitting there for years,' he said.

The Welsh-born Risman played his early football as a rugby union teenager but when he switched codes to play for the great Salford club in the late 1920s he moved quickly to become a pro rugby league player of superstar status. He became a truly 'great' wing, fullback or flyhalf.

And get this! Gus played professionally from 1929-1954 - in a total of 791 games spread over 25 years!

Imagine that - you pampered hotshot rugby stars of today!! (That's over twice as many games as Keven Mealamu has done; he who will reach a record number of games of first-class footy in New Zealand terms, this weekend v Wales.)

Of course there is a firm link to New Zealand sport from Gus Risman. As a kid I can remember his son Beverly Risman coming to New Zealand with the 1959 British Lions rugby team and, when he was fit on that tour, dazzling opponents with the same kind of magic his father had. Bev Risman scored a try in the only test win that Lions team had, beating NZ 9-6 in Auckland.

Gus Risman also toured our country with Great Britain rugby league teams in the 1930s and had a long international coaching career too.

I felt honoured to have held the photo today. And Gordon and I reflected, as we hurried back to the bus, that if we ever won a big Lotto prize we'd hire a car and tour UK; just to look about as we went along, knowing that we'd see millions of bits of rugby memorabilia just sitting there quietly in nooks and crannies, waiting to be remembered - or perhaps I should say - waiting to never be forgotten.

Or at the very least have a glass raised to.


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