I had an enquiry before Christmas from Bob Browning who played for the club in the 1960s and although not a regular managed to get selected for the Argaum XV against a Devon County side in April 1962. The match was part of the club's 75th Anniversary Celebrations. Bob, a former St Boniface pupil and now resident in Bournemouth, takes up the story.
"A chance meeting in mid-January 1962 resulted in a trip to training. My first games since 1957 were with the Extras and then the A team. After an A fixture against Launceston on 7 April, the next card arrived for the Devon 75th celebration match. I assumed this was a mistake until the fixture secretary confirmed it. I don't remember if I had played with any of the team before.
Paired with Barry (Rees) in the second row we faced Mike Davis - an England player - and Nick Southern of Plymouth Albion. Devon's players used their superior skills at a higher pace for extended periods in the game. When we had possession, they capitalised on any mistake. I felt we adapted better in the second half, but it was a very demanding 80 minute lesson. For me, size advantage was not as telling as Devon's relentless speed in all phases. Still, well aware of my very good fortune to be involved, I enjoyed it.
This next 'memory' comes with a warning. Argaum's records contain no reference to it and my contact with Barnstaple RFC's secretary has been unable to confirm it. He told me they have only records for 1st class games, hence this would not appear. Fixtures with 1st class clubs were always rare. Whether under names like 1st XV Extras or whatever, such games would be more memorable. But unless someone else can shed light on it, it might be judged as an 'elderly moment'!
Anyway, to my recollection, shortly after the Devon game, the same team lost a close match at Barnstaple, then the County Champions, possibly 16pts-9. My opinion was that we had learned a lot from the Devon experience and certainly that showed in a creditable second half performance.
Away from Plymouth for over 2 years and playing in the North, my only visit to Argaum was to turn out for St Boniface College Old Boys in a Boxing Day fixture. Such a 'competitive' game that the referee abandoned it in the second half - much to the surprise of us all. A modern yellow card or 2 would have sorted that out. Selected at prop, I know my 'differences' as a result were in particular with Roy Friend. Of course there was the usual excellent clubhouse atmosphere afterwards.
From 65-68 appearances were spaced out and limited, the last in the later stages of 67-68. On that first visit in 62, my hope might have been simply to get a regular game and enjoy it. But it became clear there were experienced eyes at every match and the opinions formed of each of us resulted possibly in changing one's playing position or the team you were in. Good clubs do that, the aim to get the best blend in the teams from the playing personnel. I benefited from that, the club had certainly been good to and for me."
Bob was very pleased to receive a print of the Argaum team for that special match in 1962 and is keen to hear from any one else from that era. To find out more about the 1961-62 season please visit the dedicated season page.
Updated 00:29 - 30 Jan 2019 by Richard Belli
Bob on a recent trip to the far east