The Police Rugby Club celebrated its "60th-no-pretty-certain-it's-75th" Anniversary on Friday at a lavish Chinese banquet dinner at the Police Officers' Club. 135 current and former club members and guests were entertained as club historian Jim Walker and club dwarf Dave Williams guided us through the proud and colourful history of police rugby, assisted by the reminiscences of Gavin Cooper, Brian Coak, Jim Finch, John Dunn, Ross Mitchell, Steve Tarrant, Dave Grant, BJ Smith and Dave Lewis.
Thanks to the generosity of friends of the club and the support the RHKPA Jim had masses of photos from down the years, which brought back many happy memories of games at Boundary Street and Kai Tak and tours around the world.
Brian Stevenson, HKRFU President, paid tribute to the contribution of the club on and off the pitch, and in particular thanked Rod Mason for his 10 years as Hong Kong Sevens Tournament Director - the shock of being publicly thanked by the Union caused Rod to fall off his seat, but thankfully no serious injury was sustained. Brian also presented international caps to some of Police's past and present legends; receiving Colony caps were Jim Finch, Mike Groves, Mark Turner, Gari Hopkins, Peter Else, Jim Walker and the man who persuaded the Union to instigate the retrospective capping Steve Quirke, while Leighton Duley and Dave Lewis were awarded HKSAR caps.
For many the highlight of the evening was the presentation of souvenir tankards to Shanghai and A-Fu, the first local Chinese to play 1st Division rugby back in 1991 - in a poignant moment the tankards were handed over by current international Tsang Hing-hung, before A-Fu gave an eloquent speech in which he paid tribute to Steve Farrer as the dirtiest player he had played with and accused Wacka Payne of systematically bullying him over the past 20 years.
By the end of the evening tributes to the evening's success were flowing faster than the Carlsberg. "It's been lovely, just lovely," gushed club legend Gari Hopkins, "I enjoyed the presentations, I was proud to receive my international cap, but for me the best bit was when I managed to nick Gary Acheson's jacket and wallet at the end - it was a bit light on cash, but I managed to give his credit cards a good thrashing." Recent club member Ian Wilson added, "This was my first ever rugby club function, and I enjoyed it immensely, although I was a bit disappointed they didn't set fire to the dwarf at the end."
Many thanks to following for their assistance in organising the dinner - Police Band, Union, HKFC, POC, Shing Hing, Playmore, Carlsberg, and all club committee. Massive thanks also to Ji Daan who took all the photos on the night - you can see them all on the club Pitchero site or on facebook somewhere or other.
On Saturday many of the attendees managed to shake off their hangovers and participated in a special over 40s match at King's Park to bring the curtain down on the Union's 60th season celebrations. The Peninsula team, wearing Police colours and led by Dave Lewis and John the Bruce, narrowly defeated the Island team in HKFC colours, which seemed rather fitting somehow...
And so back to the present, the domestic league kicks off this Saturday, and all Police sides are in action;
Police Panthers v Kowloon Beavers, 1.30pm at PSRC
Police v DB Wife Swappers, 2.45pm at PSRC
Police Pumas v SCAA-CWB, 4.00pm at PSRC
Police Sirens v SCAA-CWB, 3.00pm at So Kon Po
All tough games so we need a big turn-out of both players and supporters!
Please register your availability on Pitchero - selection committee will meet on Wednesday, training as usual on Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30pm at Boundary Street.
Have a great week, see you on Saturday!