Matthews Les

by Geoff Pillinger

Leslie George Matthews (brother of Norman)

Position: Wing
Born: Bathford
Honours: Somerset
Debut game: 27th December 1932 v Penarth
Final game: 10th April 1937
Number of Appearances: 82
Career details:-

Les was one of 3 rugby playing brothers, born and brought up in Bathford. Les, Victor and Norman joined the Avonvale Club to serve their rugby apprenticeship before advancing to the Bath Club. They later returned to Avonvale where Les was elected captain in 1932.
Les was a fleet footed wing, not big, but quite slippery. He was capped for Somerset and represented them with distinction on many occasions.

At the end of his playing career, Les became a Bath Committee member for many years, putting lots of time and effort back into the Club he loved. He recalled to Tom Martland  (his then son-in-law) the time he went as a Committee man to travel with the United XV to somewhere up the Welsh valleys, initially to run the line but, finding the team was one short, he was pressganged into playing at the age of 50 something!

Later years would find him and his close mate Alec Lewis on car park duty at the Recreation Ground, in all weathers, at the Pulteney Street gate directing traffic. People get paid for that these days! He could recount many stories about his rugby career – the Cross Baths, the Red House, journeys by horse and cart…. all highly humorous!
Les was honoured with the Presidency of the Bath Old Players Association and worked tirelessly on its behalf. He was rewarded with a Life Membership of the Association in recognition of his service to his fellow past players. He introduced Tom Martland to the West Country game of skittles at the Barley Mow on Friday nights alongside Bill Shortman, Bill Hancock, Cyril Bailey and the rest. and then there was his participation in the band at the Annual Smoker, usually in a policeman’s uniform, playing the comb and paper. Tommy Hicks provided the outfits, Jakie (Tony Jacobs) was on the drum, all completely impromptu- a laugh a minute.
A generous contributor to the Harvest Festival, Les was a keen gardener, growing a wide variety of crops, all of enormous proportions, and usually giving most of it away – that was the generous nature of the man. His extraordinary carpentry skills were highly sought after, not only around the Clubhouse and surroundings at the Rec, but by friends and neighbours. He was only too happy to oblige.


This page was added on 29/03/2016.

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