Coventry Greats

HARRY WALKER

A true Coventry legend – England’s oldest-surviving international who celebrated his 102nd birthday in February 2017. A product of the renowned Coventry schools system, Harry made his first appearance for Cov at the age of 17 as a flanker in the second XV. After two games he was converted to prop and at 18 he broke into the first XV where he stayed for some 20 years. Harry’s career was interrupted by World War 2 and it was 1947 before he was first capped by England. The only ever-present for England in both the 1947 and 1947 Five Nations tournaments, he won a total of nine caps. After he finished playing Harry went on to fill every major role at Coventry up to president and remains the club patron.

 

GEORGE COLE

One of the most loyal players ever to wear the Blue & White jersey, while destined never to be capped his club career, which spanned 1953-54 to 1972-73, saw George break every record in the book in his time. George’s club career, either in his more favoured scrum-half position or later at full-back, saw him amass 2,858 points in 452 appearances, records which possibly will never be bettered. A further 539 points were also scored in 87 games for Warwickshire. A truly great and humble clubman, George captained the side in 1965-66 while, after retirement, also serving the club as a committee man which included the centenary season in 1973-74.

 

PETER JACKSON

Tagged the Prince of Wingers, Peter was the first non-Coventrian to captain the club. A totally individual runner with deceptive pace but also a magical side step off both feet, he won 20 international caps for England and enjoyed an unforgettable tour to New Zealand & Australia in 1959 with the British Lions, which saw him bewitch followers in the Southern Hemisphere with his mazy running. A little injury prone, otherwise his long club career would surely have seen Peter also join the ranks of those making 300-plus club appearances. One of the 16 players to have scored 100-plus tries for the club (127). Captain of club and Warwickshire, following retirement Peter was at varying times fixture secretary, secretary and finally president of the club to which he had given so much. In later life, his business acumen led to the role of national secretary of the Senior Clubs’ Association in the early years following its formation.

 

PHIL JUDD

An integral part of the famed McLean/Godwin/Judd front row, Phil was another product of the Coventry Schools system, having attended Broad Heath which also produced Ivor Preece.

Captain of the club, Warwickshire and England, Phil made 442 appearances for Cov. Following his debut in 1962, Phil won 22 caps for England and went on to captain his country in both 1967 and 1968. Phil also captained Warwickshire during their successful County Championship winning years of the early 60s.

 

DAVID DUCKHAM

Coventry’s most capped international with 36 appearances for England either in the centre or on the wing following his debut against Ireland in 1969. Added to that, David travelled to New Zealand in 1971 with the British Lions and played a full part on the tour well remembered for the series victory over the All Blacks. A captain of the club, David is third on the all-time try-scoring list for Cov with 147. He was a member of the Barbarians side of 1973 that famously defeated the All Blacks at Cardiff, following which in Wales he became known as ‘Dai the adopted Welshman’ He was blessed with searing pace and sleight of foot, which pulverised many defences.

 

IVOR PREECE

A wonderfully agile fly-half and authoritative captain for three seasons in the post-war years, Ivor was clearly one of Coventry’s greatest backs of all time. A scorer of 135 tries, leaving him fourth on the all-time club list, he won 12 caps for England following a debut against Ireland in 1948 and captained his country in 1949 and 1950. But for the presence of Nim Hall, of Richmond, the belief was that he would have won many more caps. Ivor was also capped by the British Lions on the 1950 tour to Australia & New Zealand. Following retirement, he served the club as fixture secretary and later as president. A truly modest man, who in his time was greatly opposed to any ideas of cup competitions or merit tables!

 

ALF WYMAN

A true example of where the expression ‘legend’ is not misused, Alf was possibly the most famous Coventry player destined not be capped, the Second World War having a big say in that respect.

Following an illustrious playing career at hooker, which saw him become one the select few to pass 400 senior appearances for the club, Alf was subsequently first team match secretary for fully 40 years before his untimely death in the clubhouse foyer in the early 1980s. One of the game’s real diplomats, Alf was a visionary and ahead of his time as one of the instigators of the first merit tables to be introduced. How he would have approved of professionalism and the advent of league rugby. His face was widely recognised throughout the world of rugby; so too his famous ‘dome’ which first came into prominence late in his playing career.

 

PETER ROSSBOROUGH

Another iconic figure of Coventry Rugby, Peter made his club debut in 1967-68 while at Durham University and went on to make over 350 appearances, playing in both RFU Cup-winning  sides of the 1970s, and is a member of Cov’s 100-try club with 109. Peter won seven England caps following his debut against Wales at Cardiff in 1971, captained the club, coached the first team and, as chairman, saw the club through the difficult period of rebuilding after administration in 2009. He has continued his long service to the club as president.

 

JIMMY GILES

Winner of six England caps, Jimmy was the first Coventry player to represent the British Lions in a Test match, touring South Africa in 1938. He was widely regarded as the club’s greatest half-back for decades to come.

 

FRAN COTTON

Joining in 1973 Fran spent two seasons at Cov, during which time he was capped by England and played Test rugby for the British Lions in South Africa in 1974. An illustrious career also saw him represent Liverpool St Helens and Sale. Fran subsequently went on the Lions tours to New Zealand in 1977 and South Africa again in 1980, and managed the 1997 British & Irish Lions to South Africa.

 

DAVID ADDLETON

The epitome of a loyal clubman, Aggie as he is known to all made over 350 appearances at hooker following his debut in the 1989-90 season through to one final replacement appearance in 2008-09.

An Irish Exiles, Barbarians, Midlands and Warwickshire representative, Aggie was the man the club turned to on three separate occasions to step in as interim head coach during turbulent times as well as independently serving three spells as forwards coach. Renowned for his Elvis renditions, he received a standing ovation from his home crowd at the end of the 2015-16 season, his final one at the club in a coaching capacity.

 

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