The Association remembers those who contributed so much....
Bob Bell: A True Legend
I think it fair to say that Bob can be considered a true Old Parkonian legend!
He didn't 'join' the club until the age of 55 when he left Birkenhead Wayfarers CC where he had been an incredibly loyal and hard working member. He came to the Club to umpire Old Parkonians CC in the Summer of 1981. I say 'join' in inverted commas as he always claimed he was just a guest of the Club until we made him an Honorary Life Member in the 1990's, a position which he treasured greatly; 'an honour' is how he described it!
Old Parkonians CC did not play league cricket in the early 1980's, but that did not necessarily mean that it was easier to umpire then. He had to deal with challenging characters from our Club in those days such as John Duffy, Dave Westwater, Matt Carroll, Geoff Davies, Chris Dempsey and Paul Ford. 30 years ago the likes of Chris Hitchell, Richie Beckett and John O'Brien were easy meat to deal with compared to that lot; although this would change in the years to come.
The Club only had one team until 1990 and until the 2nd X1 were created that year under Ray Prescott's leadership, Bob would umpire every game be it Saturday, Sunday or mid week.
We started league cricket in the Wirral League in 1987, winning the Division 1 Championship the following season. He umpired almost every 1st X1 league game for the Club between the seasons of 1987 to 1996 inclusive; Wirral League(1987-1992) and then the North Cheshire League(1993-96) and he gave great support and advice to the 1st X1 captains of that era, Richie Beckett, Chris Hitchell, Mike Beckett and Nick Hitchell. He was always totally fair, impartial and honest and would take no messing especially from the likes of Mersey Park and Burmah.
Bob continued as always to umpire Sunday friendlies and midweek T20 matches. He was known throughout Merseyside and large areas of Cheshire too. We always had an umpire when many other clubs did not. This was such a great advantage.
Bob had one season as an MCUA panel umpire but he was soon back to the Club to umpire, even if it was to be the 2nd X1 on Saturdays with the advent of neutral panel umpires. He umpired the 2nd X1 in the Merseyside Competition(1997-99) and then The Meller Braggins Cheshire Cricket League (2000-2004). Many of these years he had to deal with Ray Prescott, the extremely loyal and hard working 2nd X1 captain but not always the easiest to deal with!!
Bob had one last season umpiring for Richie Beckett's 3rd X1 again in the Merseyside Competition during the 2005 season, although he had stopped standing in Sunday friendlies by then. His last game in early autumn 2005 came shortly before his 80th birthday.
Although Bob primarily 'joined' the Club to be involved in cricket he was a great supporter of the Rugby Club and could be found on the 'bank' at Holm Lane most Saturdays of the Winter making sure that all the 'golden oldies' - and others too - got their half time cup of tea from Pete Evans.
He was a great supporter of youth and very generous, indeed most people at the Club knew him whatever their age, and each Christmas prior to The Annual Children's Party would hand Sue Hillan an envelope with £20 inside as his contribution towards the event!
Bob was a great character - always very witty with a dry sense of humour and he loved to banter! He was especially entertaining in the company of Ronnie Caton, often decrying Ronnie's 'low standards' as he saw them!!
He was a great singer in his heyday and after a couple of pints loved to sing his old Burmese 'war songs', whilst Paul Disbury would be singing the slightly more risque old fashioned rugby songs! Great times!
Bob would come on the Cricket tours with Ronnie each summer, his favourite venues being Shrewsbury and Worcester; although he most certainly didn't approve of some of the 'goings on'! Not that this would put him off returning the following year.
Bob was always a great 'giver of lifts' always provided that it was your day and time, of course! Bob had plenty of other interests too. He especially loved The Irby Club and his Normandy reunions
I hope these words have done him justice. Bob, we salute you and most certainly will remember you.
Old Parkonians. September 2012.
Two Greats Pass On ~ George Parr & Les Marguerie
Two great Old Parkonian members have passed on in recent months and it is a fitting tribute, hopefully, that they should be remembered on our official club website.
George Parr was a life member of the club and was a great 1st/2nd team flanker (wing forward then) who played from the early 1950's through to the mid 1970's. When I joined the club midway through the 1971-72 season his 1st team days were over but he was then a much respected 2nd Team Captain setting a very fine example to the many young up and coming players of that era.
He was a quiet, very dignified man but he was hard, fair and fearless on the field of play and features in my Top 10 hardest players, on this website, to have featured for the Club post Second World War.
He was very fit and in his latter years was to be seen walking very swiftly in the Prenton locality close to where he lived in Woodchurch Road. He had a great love of the club paying into the development fund on a monthly basis and this is to continue despite his passing!. His wake was held at the club!
Les Marguerie never played rugby for the Club but was made an Honorary Life Member many years ago in recognition of all the work he and his companies did for the Club. His powers of persuasion and generosity were legendary!
One of his greatest friends was Alan Muir and although he did not play the game he took a full part in pre season training for many years as well as going on the infamous training runs from the Clubhouse alongside the likes of Alan, Gus Cusick, Geoff Williams, Pete Browne, Paul Mullen, myself, Kenny Oram, Tony Dever etc.
Les had very strong opinions about most things especially the state of the country and Liverpool FC; well those are the ones that can be mentioned!!
Up until his untimely death he was still going mountain walking with the likes of Pete Browne, Alan Muir, Dave Westwater, Robbie Knight etc. He still came to the Club on Wednesday evenings enjoying a quiet drink with his great friend, Charlie Mitchell, and always attended the Annual Rugby Club Dinner which he enjoyed immensely!
Gentlemen, you will be sadly missed!!
Chairman. Parkonians RUFC.
Brian (Gus) Cusick, who was associated with the club for more than 50 years died suddenly on Thursday 7th February 2008.
Many tributes were made to Brian in the Book of Condolence.
Memoirs from Ritchie Beckett...
Brian 'Gus' Cusick is a true rugby legend of the Wirral. He was Old Parks through and through and although well capable of playing at a much higher level he would have never dreamt of leaving the club; although he often threatened to go to Oldershaw when he was annoyed with us.
Gus joined the club on leaving school in 1956 and was very quickly in the first team at his beloved No. 3 position of tight head prop. Although neither he or the club kept official records he will have played well in excess of 1,000 1st. team games for Old Parks as well as many other lower team games...
He first 'retired' from first team duty in 1981, aged 41, taking on the third team captaincy for the following season. This did not last long, not even the season and he was soon back in the 'ones'! He then continued in the 1st. team until the end of the 1984-85 season when he 'retired' again from frontline action, aged 45. The club even arranged an official retirement party for Gus.
Again, this retirement did not last long and that summer of 1985 he changed his mind again and played 1st. team for much of the following season. From the late '80's he alternated between 1st team cameo appearances with playing for, and often captaining, the lower teams.
One season in the '90's when he was captain and the team was not doing very well he proceeded to show his team mates how it was done! First he ventured to hooker and then became more adventurous moving back to No. 8 in an infamous game in the snow at Waterloo!! He even managed stand-off a couple of years later with Donny Hawker at scrum-half [a combined age of 115 at that time]
Gus played rugby until he was eligble to draw his old age pension, only finally retiring because he required a hip replacement operation! His last 1st team game came at the age of nearly 64 against the much loved 'old enemy' Prenton.
I can only recall a prop getting the better of him once. It was at Southport against ex-England prop Frank Anderson. Frank lifted Gus out of an early scrum and while he was up in the air he declared in a loud voice that he could see both his wife, Sandra, and the Blackpool Tower from where he was!
The last three seasons saw Gus on the 1st team touchline, both home and away, as the club's trained first aider as well as continuing in his role as referee's assistant offering the officials his well thought out opinions whether they liked them or not.
He was no angel on the field of play but he was a much feared and respected opponent as well as being a tremendous team mate both on and off the field. He, will of course, be dearly missed by his loving family but also by all Old Parkonian club members both past and present; he will be sorely missed by his close friends within our club and in all other Wirral rugby clubs. Gus was also well known in many other Merseyside, Manchester and North Western rugby clubs.
How well he was loved and respected is demonstrated by the many glowing tributes on the family and club websites.
Gus, we are all going to miss you so much!!!!
Ritchie Beckett ~ February 2008
Sadly another great Old Parkonian legendary figure, Ted(Teddy) Chamberlain, passed away on the 7th September 2009 at Haslingden, Lancashire aged 74.
Ted was the the only person to have the honour of captaining the Old Parkonians Rugby Club 1st XV (1958-59, 1959-60) and the Old Parkonians Cricket Club (seasons 1966 and 1967).
He was a fine all round sportsman especially at rugby where he was the first team full back for many, many years. When he could no longer command a first team place he converted himself into no mean tight head prop playing many games in the second and third teams with occasional first team games also in his new found position.
He captained the third team as well in the early seventies. When he felt he could no longer play he turned his hand to refereeing firstly the club's lower teams and then, along with Geoff Davies, as a member of the Liverpool and District Referee's Society where he became well respected on the circuit. Even when he moved away from the Wirral he came back to referee a couple of the early Brothers/Veterans Boxing Day games in the 1980s.
I well remember on joining the rugby club as a teenager in the early 1970's how scary Teddy was. He was 'the boss' of touch rugby before the proper training started and heaven help any young or not so young lad who dropped or gave a bad pass!! Along with his cohorts Alan Muir and Brian 'Gus' Cusick he certainly let you know about it!!
He 'refereed' these games and was a terrible cheat in favour of the side he was playing on of course. He had a wonderful, dry sense of humour and as a youngster you didn't really know for sure whether he was being serious or just winding you up. Teddy was a wonderful character who will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Richie Beckett. September 2009.
Donny Hawker ~ 18/08/1939 - 23/07/2009
Memoirs by Richie Beckett
Donny Hawker joined Old Parkonians on leaving school, in the mid 1950's,along with contemporaries and life long friends Dave Westwater and Brian 'Gus' Cusick and incredibly played adult rugby for over 50 years with his last game being the Brothers/Veterans game on Boxing Day 2008.
It is fairly certain that he was the oldest player to feature in a game for the Parkonians club at the age of 69 - some achievement!!!
You only had to look at Donny to see that he was born and built to play his beloved position of scrum half(No. 9) and this is where he played almost all of his games, although he had the occasional foray into the back row.
By his own modest admittance he was not an outstanding player but he was a very brave, gritty, consistent and reliable team man. Mostly he played in the second team but he also had spells in the first team too. Later in his career, when he had turned 40 he dropped down to play in the third and fourth teams but never lost his cheery enthusiasm for the game.
Around 1980 son, Mike, joined the club and they would often play in the same team something they were both very proud of!!
Donny played regularly until the age of 60 but never retired from the game and played each Boxing Day and other occasional matches too.For so many of these years he would drive down from Manchester to play whatever the weather was and wherever the game was, home or away, although of course it was always away to him!! He was a very, very reliable team member and hated the idea of crying off; he always had a smile on his face, never a bad word to say about anyone, never moaned at even the poorest referee, just got on with it and was very popular with team mates and opponents equally.
Donny was one of the 'founders' in 1980 of the Annual Brothers/Veterans Boxing Day Challenge match. There have been 29 consecutive matches so far up to and including 2008 and it is probable that he played in all of them including the most recent one.
This was an annual occasion he dearly loved sponsoring the half time and after match whisky. In 1996 when the club was struggling for funds he paid for the infamous blue and white Bexley RFC shirts(these were obviously not club colours) tor the third/veterans teams - I can tell you that this was not an insufficient sum of money even now!!
Helen would often have to drive him home to Manchester after these Boxing Day games and Donny admitted that on a couple of occasions he had had such a good time that he fell asleep and had no recollection of the journey at all!
A favourite day for Donny, Mike and others of us who were lucky enough to be there was the last time the Parkonians club played at Eccles RUFC(Manchester) the Saturday before Christmas 1998. The firsts travelled by car but not us third teamers. We had the legendary 'Gus Bus'; the Wallasey School minibus driven by Brian 'Gus' Cusick - the team was basically a veterans squad but it also included Donny's son, Mike, and two then teenagers in Martyn Sharkey and Chris Stott. Helen drove Donny down to Eccles and he played the full game at scrum half at the age of 59. It was 0-0 at half time, then 5-0 to Eccles before most fittingly of all son, Mike, playing at full back, stepped up to score the equalising try converted by Mark Pearson to win us the narrowest of victories(7-5); how sweet the beer tasted afterwards in the very sociable Eccles clubhouse.
The 'Gus Bus' gave Donny a lift home but when we arrived at his house he invited all sixteen others of us in; he and Helen had laid on a buffet and drinks and what a great time we all had. This was so typical of the generosity of both Donny and Helen and this day is surely etched in the memory of all who were there.
Saturday 19th. December 1998. 3rd/Veterans v. Eccles(Away). Won 7-5. Try: Mike Hawker. Conversion:Mark Pearson.
Team: Mike Hawker, Dominic Verheijen, Billy Lloyd, Mike Henry, Chris Stott, Mark Pearson, Donny Hawker, Martyn Sharkey, Richie Beckett(captain), Steve Lowndes(Gus Cusick 40), Pete Browne, Carl Jones(Gary Phillips 40), Kenny Owen, Dave Holdsworth(Carl Jones 70), Kenny Cooke.
Donny was also very heavily involved in the building of the new clubhouse and its extension in 1980 giving up so much of his time, professional advice and working so very hard himself! I will have missed out many other stories such as the rugby tour he went on with the club in 1972 to Vanersburg, Sweden and trying to get in touch with him on his home phone via the dreaded fax machine for example.
Donny was a true gentleman always with a smile on his face and a tale to tell. He was kind generous, reliable and will of course be dearly missed by his loving family and friends but also by all Old Parkonian members both past and present. The world is a much poorer place for his passing.
Richie Beckett. September 2009.