The 42nd Reunion

Eighty years to
the day since the Hunslet Rugby League club won the challenge cup, defeating
Widnes at Wembley, there was a coming together of the great and the good, the
famous and the not so famous, at the Leeds Hilton on Sunday June

It was the
occasion of the 42nd re-union of the ex-Hunslet Parkside players for all who had
worn the jersey of Myrtle, White and Flame, the clubs old colours during the
Parkside days, and invited guests.

The first thing
mentioned was the tragic loss of Alf Burnell’s daughter Lorraine. He can be
assured that all who know Alf and his family offer their deepest

As usual there
was the gathering of all shapes and sizes near the bar , near to which
photographs of Hunslet and Leeds teams of the past were on display, and on a
table across the register of those present was there to be signed as also were a
couple or rugby balls, no doubt for use in a charitable cause. Dear old Frank
(Shanks) Watson, was sitting there quietly talking with Barrie Lee, as was Sonny
Russell in another group near the door, while the rest were animatedly
discussing and reviving tales from their playing days, as old sportsmen

Having a word with
Frank, he mentioned that with the passing of each year few of his age-group
still survived and that many of those present were unfamiliar… At the age of 90
plus that is hardly surprising, as many of the younger members have hardly
passed the age of sixty. In two weeks time we will have another nonagenarian in
Alf Burnell who, in view of his recent loss still seems to have the vitality and
humour of a much younger man.

Stuart Keane
arrived in a black outfit with sparkling sequins, with one trouser leg missing
and a pink feather boa wrapped around his neck, which had something to do with
the charity adopted by the association. Peter Jarvis was running around like a
half back attending to the welfare and proceedings of the

At 1-15pm we went
in for lunch, and while we ate pictures of Old Hunslet were shown on a large
screen reviving memories of almost forgotten times and places. Of the guests
present Harry Jepson spoke from the volume of his long association and knowledge
of rugby league. Gary Hetherington took his turn in similar fashion. Bill
Fotherby and Malcolm Reilly were especially interesting! Bill Fotherby told of
his time at Leeds United, Hunslet Hawks and Harrogate Town. While admitting that
he was never tough enough or strong enough for rugby league he used to stand
outside the Parkside dressing rooms as a child and was fascinated by the smell
of the players as they emerged to take the field. This raised a laugh until he
explained he meant the smell of embrocation and other potions to ease sprains
and minor injuries. His story about the two suits he made for Wakefield players
was hilarious, as were his methods of trying to get paid.

Malcolm Reilly was
especially interesting, regaling us with stories of his playing days at home and
abroad. He was particularly humorous in the way he described his constant
brushes with authority in his early days, and described how he only became a
rugby player almost by accident. And at one time was on the point of being sent
home from an Australian Tour for his indiscretions. His comments about the
Aussie press at the time were less than complimentary. But he became a legend in
Australia after coaching his Newcastle club to the title when, due to injuries
he was obliged to play a man with broken ribs during a game in which his side
came back to win after being points behind in the closing stages..

As already
mentioned some famous old faces are still around, including Geoff Gunney, Sonny
Ruston, Frank Watson and others whose face I knew well but am unable to put
names to them. Which, as they say, is par for the course in old age? But perhaps
surprisingly another honoured guest Davis Oxley, did not give us the benefit of
his time in in administration, but seemed content and happy just to be

The last man who
spoke was at one time a near neighbour of Malcolm Reilly, but for the life of me
I cannot remember his name. Those present will know who I mean when I say that
when he told of meeting his future wife in the Spotted Dog, on Penny Hill (once
run by Frank Metcalfe) when asked later where his wife came from he replied “the
rural district of south Leeds, which brought a laugh and even applause from the

To round off the
proceedings Alan Simpson, a Hunslet official or director for many years
auctioned a large mounted picture of the Hunslet team of 1934, and copies of
local newspaper reports, denoting the occasion. The buyer was Bill Fotherby who
paid £300 plus to acquire this piece of memorabilia which, if soled on the
internet should bring a much higher price. After procedural toasts had been
made to Queen , Country and Hunslet Rugby League the old war song “We’ve swept
the seas before boys “was sung, and one has to say “A good day was had by

Except for yours
truly who, not knowing the method of paying for and exiting the car park got
down to the gate to discover I should have paid on an upper floor , and could
not get out of the exit. With cars queuing behind, dear old George Ellener kept
putting the card into the machine as fast as a fiddler’s elbow without result.
Until that one time definitely hard man and legend of rugby league that is
Malcolm Reilly, came and took over by sprinting to the upper floor and paying
the fee. . Proving once and for all that not only was Mr Reilly a great player
and coach, but that he is also a Gentleman

And so we shall

OLD Mother Benson Comments

The Mr Unforgettable speaker was “Phil Evans”

Thanks Ernie Great Blog-you got Jarvo out of it…..?

Peter had too many drinks on Sunday and could not remember a thing about the REUNION. He got so drunk he left his keys in his car that was at his sons house in Middleton,and when he got home via taxi from the Prossie after collecting his wife from a friends house in Bradford. Dian asked him for the house Keys.? They then had to get a taxi back to Miggy and get his son up who was on an early shift.
No doubt everyone was Happy in the Jarvo Family?