The Demise Of The Team Tour

"Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?"

 Excuse me for beginning a rugby article with the first line of a once popular song but, if we change just one word of its memorable first line to "Tours" then many at clubs like Liverpool St.Helens begin to realise  just what is missing from a game now totally bound by a rigid league structure at all levels.

Oh for the days when clubs and schools close to my heart funded trips to Canada, America, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, France, Spain, and elsewhere. Today our players are excited when they are due for a visit to the New Brighton or Southport clubs. A weekend visit to even both Harrogate and Ilkley in Yorkshire was always a most enjoyable early season tour and the occasion for some highly entertaining activities among the players. Do any of our older members recall the visit to the Grand Hotel in Harrogate and the buckets of water which often poured down on those attempting to clime the circular staircase when looking for an early bed time?

Yes, in the words of yet another once popular tune - "those were the days, my friend, we thought they would never end" - yet a glance at our current fixture list indicates the dramatic change from the past. While meaning no disrespect to our current, visiting clubs and appreciating the warm welcome and friendly atmosphere whenever LSH visits the likes of our near neighbours and proud rugby clubs in Wigan, Ormskirk, Widnes, Oldham, West Park, Liverpool Collegiate, and others, the limits of our club's travelling are obvious. Little chance for the overnight stay or the weekend 'doubleheader in Cornwall and Devon and the team spirit created and boosted by the performances on the pitch. And especially via the antics off the pitch!

There is no doubt that today, an intensive league structure at all levels of the game does bring about a competitive attitude among our clubs and players. While the collection of match winning League Points provides the players with a satisfaction from their exertions over the 80 minutes play. And yet, how many of my generation miss the banter and the memories when someone in your club says to you, "Do you remember when we all ended up in that Night Club after the match and Harry............?

Yes, "those were the days my friend, we thought they would never end." But they have!   

Ray French

September 2019