Down Memory Lane or is that Donkey Lane?
By "The Man Who Knows"
This story may have changed through elaboration over the last 30 years and the considerable loss of brain cells by those around at the time, but I am sure you get the idea:
Easter Tour in 1977 was to Cheltenham and the intrepid Tour Party was accompanied by a 10 foot stuffed clown who had been liberated from a local School, any resemblance to current clowns is only coincidence. The clown mysteriously disappeared at Cheltenham Rugby Club which infuriated the Club's Committee so much that the Honorary Secretary at the time, Brian "Taffy" Harris, was urged to protest in the strongest of fashion.
Brian wrote to Cheltenham the following letter:
I refer to our recent Easter Tour and the loss of our clown from our bus in your car park. I would like to confirm the free transfer of the aforesaid clown and would suggest that in view of your last season's playing record you put him at fly half.
Should you on the other hand find him a trifle immobile, we would be happy for him to be returned, otherwise our Extra A's will be playing one short next season.
Brian helpfully copied the letter to the RFU at Twickenham.
We received a polite response from Cheltenham as follows:
Dear Mr. Harris,
After a long and arduous search I regret to inform you no trace can be made of your
"clown". In fact members of our club were away when you played on our ground, which we lent to Hucclecote Old Boys for the day.
We do however offer you our deepest sympathy in your sad loss, but why so concerned? Judging by the result you have at least another fifteen clowns available!!!
A challenge indeed, one that needs to kept in mind the next time we are Cheltenham Rugby Club. The fact that the Tour Party did not know who they were playing comes as no surprise to those who have toured.
The story does not end there as the clown did make another appearance, at the Club's Annual Player's Dinner, when it was last seen being hurled forcefully from the back of the hall towards the Top Table, inflicting some well needed humour and devastation into the proceedings. The clown's whereabouts are currently unknown.