John Gardner's view
Club History 1 of 2

1. John Gardner's view

This information was kindly provided by John Gardner who played for Chinnor in the '60s and subsequently updated by Dave Turner in August 2010.

I joined the club in the autumn of 1966 having commenced teaching at the village school. This was my first job out of college at Culham nr Abingdon. I think I was introduced by Austin Mathews whose wife taught at the school, but I was not really a rising star I just wanted to have a bit of fun.
The club used as its unofficial HQ for meeting purposes the Bird in Hand and on Saturday lunchtimes away teams would assemble before moving off. I understand originally they had used the Crown as their assembly point and were allowed to used the bottom room of this pub after matches for food, beer etc, but the agreement was terminated by Pete Shakespeare the then landlord for rowdy behaviour.
The team, I believe, used to play on a pitch in the centre of the village and used the Reading Room in the High Street to change. My story about using tin baths is apocryphal because it did not happen in my time. I don't think this lasted long, but certainly from September 1966 an agreement was reached with Bledow Cricket Club to use their pavilion with some adjustment to our beginning and end of season games because cricket was being played. It seemed to be a reasonable arrangement but we had to transport players back and forth to the also new fields opposite the Bird In Hand on what I believe was called Whites Field (I think he was the farmer who rented it to us).

The picture shown was taken at White's Field, Chinnor at the end of the 1965/1966 season. From left to right the Chinnor players are:

  1. David Boas - Hooker
  2. Ron Burgess - Fly Half or Centre
  3. Richard Esaias - Centre
  4. Unknown
  5. Chris Rake - Prop
  6. Unknown
  7. Keith Croxford - Centre
  8. John Meredith - Wing Forward
  9. Peter Savin - Captain and No. 8
  10. Marcus Cann - Club Chairman
  11. Kenny Vaughan - Scrum Half
  12. Unknown
  13. Eric Lambourne
  14. Unknown
  15. Unknown
  16. Jim Simmie - Wing
  17. Cyril Perry - Founder and hard working go getter!

There was room for one reasonably good 1st XV pitch and one smaller 2nd XV pitch. At this time the club could easily field both these XV's and was beginning to get a 3rd XV off the ground. My memory has faded as to names of people in the club but I shared a house for a few months with one Richard Evetts and Will Sherriff but Richard moved on and I rented a property called Marquise in the High Street which and this gradually filled up with other rugby players. The only two I remember were Alec Parrott and Pete O'Neill both of whom taught at the village school. There were others and the house became a regular haunt of players after matches and pubs had shut because we constantly had a barrel of beer in the hall. This was refreshed regularly by Bill Wilson the landlord of the Red Lion a few yards away. I also think his son who was a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy played a few games when on shore leave.

I became Fixture Secretary in Autumn 1967. Presumably someone resigned, I do not know the background, but as Fix Sec I was charged with really trying to strengthen the fixtures for 1st & 2nd XV's and build up the 3rd XV. I was greatly helped in this task by the Fixture Exchange set up by a guy in Reading who was a former player of that club and he and his dear wife manned the phones to deal with cancellations etc. It was really successful and a good list was built up and he also organised meetings for Fix Sec to meet face to face and some good contacts were made. Alas I decided to leave the village to move into industry in 1969 but I think the good work was continued by a retired player in the village (can't remember name).

Socially we met after matches at Bledlow and I was responsible for teas which meant getting a rota of good ladies and the occasional man to be up there to cook sausages, steak pies, mash, and baked beans. We alternated between sausages and pies week in week out and I had to remember to telephone Stevens Pies in Prestwood by 5pm on Thursday to place the order and this was delivered to a little shop opposite the Red Lion so that I could pick them up. If I forgot I had to wander about the village buying up the stock from wherever I could. I did not forget many times!

Socially we had two dances per year. An end of season ball near Easter and a Fancy Dress Ball around November both held in Chinnor Village Hall. The Easter one was a full dress do with men as penguins and ladies in finery, with a buffet and bar run by the Crown. The Fancy Dress was informal with a fish & chip supper being brought in from Risboro'. Although for one of them, I think 1967, we persuaded Dora Perry dear wife of Cyril Perry to give us use of her wash boiler to make pea soup! Altogether it was not too successful with the soup tasting a little soapy and of course afterwards Cyril's shirts, pants and other items were a pale shade of green for some months! Anyway I think Dora forgave me.

I cannot remember many players, but one that does stand out was a newcomer from Wasps called Eddie Laxton. He was a hooker and very experienced. He was also a reporter for the Daily Mirror and was quite an inspiration and moved the club onwards with enthusiasm and drive. I do remember on one occasion he got us to play a Sunday XV from somewhere in London called The Firkins so called because they drank this quantity before playing and several more afterwards.

At the moment this is all I can remember (tis 40 years or more ago) but if other things come to mind I will pass them on. In the meantime good luck to you all. It makes me very proud to have been a small part of such a great club.