The Association remembers those who contributed so much....

Tony Dever ~ A Fond Farewell

Tony was a true maverick in every sense of the word. He arrived at the club in 1982 around the age of 21 without having played much if any rugby?!

He was an enthusiast from the start and like any aspiring new and young player who had pace he was placed on the wing in the lower teams. Despite working his way up the teams this position was not to his taste!

Too far away from the action he said so open side flanker he became. Again he worked his way up the teams soon becoming a 1st team regular in this position for several seasons.

Parkonians was his mother club but Tony had a restless and nomadic heart. Soon he was on his travels to Hoylake, St Mary’s and then making many other solo appearances for so many clubs in the North of England.
Together with Benjie he founded Corwen Rugby Club in North Wales close to where they had relocated. Tony was lively, probably hyperactive, in actual fact, a lovely guy and a true legend of the game of rugby union much loved and adored by all of us at the Club.

He brought his dear brother Benjie to the Club along with Tony and Peter Ohlssen.

Tony was a one off fantastic guy with so many stories to tell; talcum powder, cricket pad/shoulder pads, three piece suite on the roof rack, inside out tracksuit bottom etc. It was great that he and Benjie, along with great friend Geoff Williams, were able to attend our 90th anniversary lunch at the end of January.

Tony, you will be sadly missed, taken far too young. Our condolences go to Donna and all family members and, of course, Benjie.

On Saturday 2nd March 2019, the Club and Ellesmere Port stood for a minute silence in memory of Tony.

Richie Beckett. President. Oxton Parkonians RUFC.

Ernie Bell

Ernie BellIt is with great sadness that the club has to report that Ernie passed away peacefully on the morning of Sunday 2nd September 2018. His health had not been good for some time.

Ernie was a legendary player and Clubman. He was Club/1st XV Rugby Captain (1969-71) playing at No 8 and flanker. He was both a skilful and feisty player taking no nonsense from irritating opponents. He features as one of "The 10 Hardest Players" (1960-2010) in an article I wrote for the website several years ago! He was a regular 1st Team player throughout the '60's and early '70's.

Ernie always had a special 'rapport' with Liverpool Society referees enjoying good banter with them both on and off the field, including my late father, Harold. Indeed my Dad always told me that Ernie was one of his favourite Parkonians!! He had a very dry sense of humour and was great company in the Clubhouse after a game. In addition he had a great impact and influence upon young/upcoming players, none more so than our current OPAL Chairman, Ken Cooke.

He was a very generous Club benefactor. His son, Simon, also played for the club in the '80's. Ernie will be sorely missed by all his family and friends.

Richie Beckett.
President Old Parkonians Association Ltd.

Anthony (Tony) Jones 1934 - 2016

tony-jones ©tony-jones
Tony was born in Birkenhead and attended Park High School, where he developed his love of Rugby and Cricket.

He played his Rugby and Cricket in the late 50's and early 60's at Old Parks, he was captain of the 3rd Team and later on Captain of the 4th Team.

Tony loved the Club and was responsible for setting up the fundraising to replace the old Clubhouse with the current Clubhouse of today. Himself, Colin Hackman and Ken Hough really campaigned hard to raise money on behalf of the Club, contacting as was then, current and retired players for their donations.

Playing at stand off, his ability on the field of play were limited, he was always keen to shout the orders to other players, and did his best to avoid tackling - leadership was his game. Off the field he was a selector and involved with organizing the teams. His playing time was cut short due to back injury in the late 60s. 

He continued to visit the Club throughout his life and enjoyed watching the rugby and meeting the new players.  The social side he loved through the decades with his great friends George Parr, Gus and so many others. In more recent years he was so pleased to see the club doing so well and the very warmth of old traditional spirit, family & unity which the Club is famous for was better than ever.

With his health in decline, he made a final visit to the club on Friday the 15th January 2016 to be there one last time, and made his wishes clear to his son that this was where he had celebrated life so much and indeed were we should all celebrate his. 

Tony sadly passed away very peacefully on Tues 23rd Feb

Anthony Jones' Service will take place at Landican Cemetery Thursday 10th March at 2.30pm

Followed by a celebration of his Life at the Club House

All are very warmly welcomed.

Dave Westwater
Chairman, Old Parkonians Association

Ronnie Paterson ~ 1938-2016

Ronnie PatersonThe Association would like to inform all members of the passing of Ron Paterson on January 21st.

He was born in Birkenhead in 1938, went to Park High School, joined the Old Boys as a teenager and continued to play in 3 decades, 50s, 60s, 70s.

He was a fine back row player but in those days of uniformity the stars on the pitch were always trying to make an individual impact.

It was frowned upon by ‘King Curphey’ when they turned out in non-Club white socks and further compounded when Ron grew a beard! It was no wonder that H.M.C. banished him to London.

We remember him well, socially, a team mate on the pitch and a stalwart Old Parkonians.

All who remember him send our condolences to his wife Ann (nearly a North Ender) and the family.

Dave Westwater
Chairman, Old Parkonians Association

Greg Knight (1959 ~ 2016)

Greg sadly passed away in early January 2016 at a very young age.

He had been a very good rugby playing member of Old Parks throughout the '80's playing as a centre or a winger. He was a regular in both Pete Evans' and my 2nd Teams with occasional 1st Team appearances as well .

Away from the club he was a multi talented young man and he loved to travel with an especial love of Australia.

Several club members attended Greg's funeral on Friday 29th January 2016 at Holy Name, Beresford Road, Oxton in a very moving service where his younger sister,Laura, gave a wonderful eulogy bringing a large round of applause!! This was followed by a celebration of his life at his local watering hole The Shrew in Oxton Village.

He will be sadly missed by all his family and friends.

Richie Beckett.
Chairman/President. Oxton Parkonians RUFC

Andrew Stratton (1938 ~ 2016)

Andrew was a sports reporter for many, many years for the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo along with the Wirral Globe. His favourite sports were rugby and cricket.

I did not know, until his passing, that in his earlier years  he had played rugby for Old Parks. I phoned him almost every week for the past 25 years with details of our Club's rugby/cricket results and performances. He always had a soft spot for our Club and I now know why!! Amazingly I had never met Andrew in person!! A few years ago I asked him to speak at our annual rugby club dinner but he politely declined.

He will be sadly missed on the local sporting scene. Andrew's funeral takes place at St John's Church, Meols at 12.15pm on Wednesday 10th February 2016.

Richie Beckett.
Chairman/President. Oxton Parkonians RUFC

Sid Colvin: They Broke the Mould

The requested image size is not available for this photo on Flickr (uploaded when this size was not offered yet). Try another size or re-upload this photo on Flickr.This is a good photo of Sid on a cricket tour in the 70's. He looks like the rock and roller he was! He loved his music, playing in several bands locally. He didn't really play cricket but loved the tours.

Sid played hooker in the 1st and 2nd Teams loved the Isle Of Man tours making his last in 1979; he also captained the 2nd XV in the mid 70's.

He was a larger than life character and very good company; always with a smile on his face and forever with a tale to tell, even if they were often long winded!!

Sid was born in 1944 and sadly passed away in December 2015 aged 71.

Richie Beckett.
Chairman/President. Oxton Parkonians RUFC

Bob Bell: A True Legend

I think it fair to say that Bob can be considered a true Old Parkonian legend!

The requested image size is not available for this photo on Flickr (uploaded when this size was not offered yet). Try another size or re-upload this photo on Flickr.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.

Richie Beckett. 
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!

The requested image size is not available for this photo on Flickr (uploaded when this size was not offered yet). Try another size or re-upload this photo on Flickr.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!!

Richie Beckett. 
Chairman. Parkonians RUFC.

Brian (Gus) Cusick (1940 ~ 2008)

BCusick ©BCusick
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

Ted Chamberlain

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

donnyhawker ©donnyhawker
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.