Graham was born in a small town called Taihape in North Island, New Zealand on 20 May 1940. His parents who had emigrated from Scotland were staunch Presbyterians and belonged to the Salvation Army so that he was brought up in a strict household. He quickly developed an aptitude for sport and played schoolboy rugby at a high level playing against the likes of Colin Meads who he remembered as being dark, swarthy and very unpleasant (he also played against his brother who had fairer skin and was less unpleasant).
He left home at the age of 18 to go travelling and spend the next year touring round Australia in a camper van with a mate, finally ending up in Darwin. They sold the van and bought boat tickets to Singapore where they worked hard to earn the plane fare to the UK. However, at the eleventh hour there was a change of plan and they used their reserves to buy a new VW Beetle that they drove across the world ending up in London during the “Swinging 60’s”.
For the 1982/83 season, Graham was the club Team Secretary and involved with the weekly selection of our teams. It became apparent that we had too many players for our 6 sides so that Graham offered to become co-captain of what turned out to be the “Magnificent 7th. The side, which was made up of some old stagers, a few “guests” and a compliment of Colts became Centaurs most successful side, winning 13 of the 14 games played, the only loss being by 2 points to Gaytonians XA who had 15 men to our 13. The game plan was simple – the old lags would win the scrums, the Colt scrum half would whip out the ball to Graham who would then either take on the entire opposition backline single handed or kick it to the other end of the field. The Colts would therefore receive the ball from Graham with acres of space or just chase after it. Either way tries inevitably followed.
Graham continued to be involved with the Club as long as we were still playing – he was Chairman of Selectors from 1995 to 1997. Although not one for staying too long, he was always great company in the bar after the game re-capping the day’s events with amusement and good humour.
Towards the end of his life, he fought the twin illnesses of Parkinson’s and Leukaemia with amazing courage and bravery, always showing a positive face and never self-pity. He lost the battle on April 13th 2017 and Centaurs are now missing another one of their genuine clubmen.
Simon East and Paul Gibson
Graham worked hard to build a career in the automotive and transport industry initially working for the Ford Motor Company before joining up with Terry Nunn at Cross Rent-A-Tipper. Between them they built a highly successful business where Graham became General Manager.
Whilst at Fords he met and later married his wife Anne having two daughters Tania and Emma.
In the late 1970’s he was introduced to Centaurs by Mike Root. Although now approaching 40, he made a great contribution to the Club’s lower sides, playing in any back position, being hard as nails and able to kick the ball prodigious distances.
A Footnote from Easto: Whilst discussing Graham with his wife, Anne, she always referred to Graham as “my boy”. Well I’m sure Anne will not mind if we finally say that we have lost one of “our boys