It is with sadness that we have to report the passing of Jack Knox (clubman and referee). Aged 83 Jack passed away on 25 March 2020 in a care home in Hounslow. Jack had been battling spinal cancer since shortly before Christmas and had been in hospital and, latterly, the care home since then. Our sympathies go to his sister – his only remaining relative.
If you played for the club between 1970 and 2010 you would have known Jack. Firstly he refereed many of the junior team home games in the 1970’s and 1980’s. His awarding of penalties for “stupidity” was well known. After the club reformed to play in the lower leagues Jack took up the mantle of Fixtures Secretary. A duty he performed diligently.
Jack did not play for London Scottish but played his rugby for Northern RFC. He arrived in London after his work as a Civil Engineer brought him here. Jack was born and brought up in Sunderland.
Jack was well known for his forthright views (and equally forthright method of delivering them) but was a great companion and a gentleman. Rest in peace Bonny Lad. We will miss you.
ERIC HUGH CRUICKSHANK 1931 – 2020
London Scottish sadly lost one of its great servants with the death of former 1st XV captain and later club president Eric Cruickshank on 18th April. He passed away quietly following a stroke, thankfully not of the ubiquitous virus, and therefore surrounded by family. A quiet funeral will be followed when feasible by a service to celebrate his life.
Eric was born in Edinburgh, but when a small boy moved north to the Granite City, was schooled at Aberdeen Grammar and then graduated in Chemistry at Aberdeen University where he went on to be awarded a PhD.
As was so often the case, however, work brought the twenty-something Eric to the South. Initially engaged in nuclear research at Harwell, he moved on to further research work at Royal Dutch Shell before moving on again, this time into private business.
More or less on arrival though, the young chemist was embraced by London Scottish rugby in August 1956. He had just missed a stellar season, the club’s best for fifty years, but was selected for the 1st XV, earning his club cap in the contrastingly average 1956-57 season. Still, he was rewarded after that debut season with the captaincy, this being the era when this was a one-season appointment.
Eric oversaw mixed success for a side that could at times field Scotland players Ian Swan, Gordon Waddell, Arthur Smith, Malcolm Swan, Ken Scotland and Bob MacEwen, but was blighted by injury and illness. Yet as the club’s history records, Eric’s reward in blending a young side with such illustrious team-mates came the following season under Mac Wylie, when the club could also field as many as eleven capped players in the XV. Eric continued as a regular in the 1st XV, but as a jack of all trades who featured everywhere in the backs except at scrum-half, he lost out to specialists when the national selectors were watching, and never got beyond a trial.
He in fact spent the early 60s captaining the Extra 1st XV, itself a distinguished side that was seldom beaten, but regularly pulled on a 1st XV shirt when needed. Eric was also a keen sevens player, shadowing the great club sides of the early 60s on spring weekends when the club might enter as many as four different tournaments on the same day. He led the first of many pre-season tours to the west country, where the routine included matches at Penzance and Newlyn, now replaced by the club’s annual league fixture at the Mennaye with Cornish Pirates, and also toured the south west of France and the Borders.
In 1965 the club gave Eric a “special award,” (we no longer have a record of exactly what…) to mark his contribution over almost a decade of ever improving performances and results that saw the club become both a leading proponent of XV-a-side rugby, topping the Daily Telegraph pennant (which preceded the advent of leagues), and the dominant side in Sevens rugby, while also providing the core (sometimes seven or eight) of the Scotland team.
The Barbarians too recognised his worth and selected him at full-back in the 1965 Mobbs Memorial match, even though he had now retired from the 1st XV. He finally hung up his boots in 1966.
“Great days they were,” Eric reminisced in the club history, “and greatly do I miss them.”
He would not be lost to the club though. Stints on committees followed and finally he was elected in 1979 as the club’s ninth president in its 101st year, serving till 1984.
Rugby was not his only sporting passion. He was a member at Trevose Golf Club in Cornwall for 50 years and the family regularly holidayed there. He then also joined St George’s Hill Golf Club at
Weybridge in 1978, and was with a group of his golfing friends only recently. Club president Holmes Carlile noted in his tribute last week that Eric was “a very competent golfer with a healthy competitive streak and a will to win. He did not bring the tackling ferocity he displayed as full-back for Scottish but he enjoyed good companionship on the course and beyond.”
Iain Cruickshank writes: “He met my mother at London Scottish – she came to watch a game with her boyfriend of the time. As kids, our Saturdays did tend to be spent at Richmond, kicking rugby balls or playing under the old wooden stand in the cold while Dad was in the bar. After Shell, Dad went in to business with his father in law, my grandfather. A brave decision! They had a light engineering company and Dad continued to run this until his retirement.
“One of his strongest attributes was a sense of duty and public service. He was involved in fundraising through the Masons and Epsom Rotary Club. He was instrumental in raising funds to restore the spire at St Mary’s Church in Headley. He also served on the Board of Governor at St John’s School Leatherhead, long after Alastair and I had left. Up until his stroke, he was still fit, able to walk the dog for half hour and played golf every week until the dreadful weather we had over the winter.”
Eric’s grand-daughter Lauren Edgley adds: “To me he was the epitome of a gentleman. I don’t think I ever heard him swear…. not even when watching Scotland lose despite having witnessed it many a time in his life! And he had a certain grace about him which naturally drew people to him.”
And this from London Scottish president Paul Burnell: “I met Eric when I joined the Club in 1988 and I will always be grateful for the welcome he gave me, and for always taking an interest in my career on the field. He was a gentleman and a great President of London Scottish. People like Eric are the heart of the club and have given us such a rich history as we move to our 150th year in 2028.”
To the last he retained his connection with London Scottish, attending matches and periodically dinners and events, including as a special guest at the club’s 140th birthday dinner in 2018. He will be warmly and fondly remembered.
Eric is survived by Diane, his wife of 60 years, children Alison, Iain and Alastair, six grandchildren and a great grandchild.
London Scottish joins with all who knew him, in sending condolences to the family and gratitude at being part of a life well lived.
That celebratory service is likely to draw quite a crowd.
Ronnie played Cowboys and Indians until he discovered rugby at the age of 11. After a career in Borders and Glasgow rugby (both on the pitch and on the streets) he became a London Scot in 1971. On the good Biblical basis that he who humbles himself shall be exalted, he began his LSFC career in the 8th Xv and rose through the ranks to the 1st Xv and a Scotland Trial. On his way back down through the club he called an early halt to his rugby through injury. His wide experience as an Easter tourist both on and off the pitch is vital for his role as manager ( so he can for instance, wake players 15 minutes before kick off). Having married and English girl, he cannot be said to be bigoted.
Ronnie sadly passed away having contracted Covid-19.
It is with much sadness that we report the death on 12th March of Alex Gordon, 7th Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair at his home, House of Formartine, on the Haddo Estate. He was 64.
He played for London Scottish in the 1970s and after returning to Aberdeenshire, continued to be a great supporter of London Scottish. Tributes from Sir David Reid and Malcolm Gillespie, Captain of the Picts can be found below.
A service of thanksgiving will be held in due course – we will let you know when the date and venue are known.
Tribute from Sir David Reid
I had the pleasure of knowing Alex in many different contexts.
First, when I played my first games for London Scottish back in 1973. Like Alex, I was young and was accused of spoiling the average age of the front row in the Picts ! I didn’t see much of Alex on the pitch as he was out doing what backs do !
But seriously and later at Scottish on our “incredible journey from League 9 to the RFU Championship”, Alex was one of the regular contributors to the funding of this journey.
Also, going back to my own roots in Aberdeenshire, my family on my mother’s side Jean Johnston were farmers at Loanhead of Savoch near Auchnagat for many years The family were tenant farmers on the Haddo Estate.
So, it was great in later years to get to know the Gordons, Alex and Joanna at their family home at Haddo. Alex was a great host at I think the largest dining room table I’ve been lucky enough to sit ! He was also a generous host on the shooting field.
Lastly, I had the privilege of being President of the Royal Highland Show when it was Aberdeenshire’s turn to host this great event. Needless to say, Alex was to the fore in our team along with Sarah Mackie, helping make it a great success that year.
A further connection was when I used to visit my Chalet at Cruden Bay and having a game of golf with Alex at Old Meldrum along with Francis Clark. It was quite a wide spectrum of talent with Francis leading the way off Plus 2 and Alex at the
other end of the spectrum with an enthusiastic agricultural swing and giving the ball an almighty belt ! – sometimes it went so far as never to be seen again !
He was truly a man of the North East and proud to be so. He was always a Doer and Giver and never a Taker. A pleasure to know and a credit to his family and their history and an example for us all. He made a difference in so many ways.
Sir David Reid
Tribute from Malcolm Gillespie, for many years Captain of the Picts
It is with great sadness that I read of the death of Alex Gordon (Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair).
I cannot remember the circumstances of Alex joining the Picts, but he came in as the youngest member of the squad by some distance. But he did help to keep the average age within credible limits! He played Full Back/Wing and had a trusty left boot. Those of you who came on the tour to Aberdeen will remember us playing Aberdeenshire and a visit to Haddo House.
I had kept in touch with Alex by phone and knew he hadn’t been well. I have spoken to his son, George, who mentioned how much his father had enjoyed his time at London Scottish.
He was a great character, an invaluable member of the squad, greatly adding to the spirit and mix of the Picts and will be both missed and remembered.
The many of us who knew David Hogg will share my sadness to learn of his loss to Covid-19. It is devastating to think that someone of such huge strength, both physical and mental, should be overcome by a vicious, virus.
From family members, Angela and Bill, I learned that David felt unwell with Covid-19 symptoms but seemed to have fought them off and was out walking last week. However, his condition deteriorated rapidly, and he was taken to Kingston A&E by ambulance where he died in the Intensive Care Unit last weekend.
From the late ‘70s into the ‘90s David was a regular star at every level of London Scottish FC. He went on his first tour to Guernsey where he ably served as “Youngest Tourist” and from whence he was tutored in the black arts of playing Hooker by “Ferocious” Fulton Paterson; and, along with Fulton, subsequently delivered many painful lessons to opposition front rows. David’s off-field education in geography also commenced in Guernsey where Joe Flaherty shared his intuitive ability to find the shortest route to nurses’ hostels and the fastest exit routes too – a feat unequalled today by Google maps.
From Brian Watt’s team pic of a 4th XV captained by Graeme “Giant” Dewar you will recognise the huge personalities into which David comfortably fitted.
It will be a while before we meet again at a rugby or golf fixture. When we do I’m certain we’ll recall many happy, hilarious, of our times together with David.
In the meantime, when you have your next drink, whether it be that cup of Earl Grey Tea which your housekeeper brings you this afternoon or tonight’s taster from the illicit gin distillery in your garage, just lift your mug and say, “Cheers, Hoggy”.
Golf Convener London Scottish FC
We are very sad to announce the death of Bruce Thomson who played a prominent part in the life of the club over many years.
Bruce came to London Scottish from Oxford University having obtained blues in both rugby and boxing. He won three caps as a prop for Scotland in 1953. He was vice captain of Scottish in 1954 during Bill MacPherson’s captaincy.
Bruce practised as a GP in Horsham for years before retiring to Crieff .
He was from an early age a skilful and successful bagpiper who wrote some 450 pieces for the pipes and played for the Queen. He acted as club piper for several years after his rugby playing career ended.
He died at Crieff on the 13th of January.
The London Scottish Family have lost one of their true characters. Mark Whitehead passed away over the Christmas period after a short illness.
Mark joined London Scottish after many years as a Stirling County player where he learned his rugby and played in various Senior sides before a stint in Ireland with Ardee Rugby Club.
An enthusiastic amateur, Mark played for many B’s, ExB’s and Picts sides in the 2000’s and 2010’s as well being a very keen tourist on a number of club tours.
Over recent years Mark was a member of the Front Row Union, a small group of retired props who sponsored a number of London Scottish’s developing front row players. Mark was always ready to share his views on the game and tips on the dark arts of scrummaging.
Our condolences go out to his wife Lindsay, his brother Ruarigh, sister Claire as well his wider family.
A minutes applause will be held prior to kick off at the Bedford Blues match on Friday 10th January as a tribute to a true London Scot.