A Brief History of the Wags
In the mid-1960s a small group of members met regularly on Wednesday afternoons to play golf. Harvey Boone, an optician, had a half-day on Wednesdays and played with Cyril Thomas, Bertie Brown and J Robertson. Before long others joined them. In 1969 the group was officially recognised as a Section of the Club and became known as the Wednesday Afternoon Golf Society – the Wags. Some years later the Wags agreed to bring forward their tee time to 10.30am to fit in with the needs of the Club.
The Wags is not a “golden oldies” section, it is open to any age, although being mid-week the majority, but not all, are retired men. Many of the older players are sons of former members eg Dave Brampton, Peter Creer, Adrian Paterson, Graham Robertson, and Robert Wendt; many still playing are octogenarians with one nonogenarian.
Some of our early Wags, c. early 1970s
In 1977 Harvey Boone was elected President. Ian Lucas, brother of “Laddie”, was president 1981-1996, Alan Thackrey is the present holder. A Captain is appointed annually in March at a formal dinner with speeches and prize-givings attended by the Chairman, Club Captain, General Manager, Professional, Head Green-keeper and other honoured guests. A Ladies’ Luncheon for Wags (wives and girl-friends) is held in October.
Wags members of 1995
Humour and gentle banter has been a feature of the Wags since its founding. For a poem please click here
A group of octogenarian Wags in 1997
For details of this event please click here
The Wags into the 21st century
In July 2009 the Club celebrated its Centenary.
It was also the 40th Anniversary of the Wags, and in support an annual event to raise funds for the Club Vice-Captain’s nominated charity was established. The trophy played for is the Sandy Lodge Claret Jug produced by the Club to commemorate the Centenary.
For the report on the Wags 40th Anniversary click here
In August 2019 the Wags celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
Our Golden Jubilee Celebration Day on 14th August greeted us with heavy rain and a forecast that was not encouraging. Nevertheless, 90 Wags/Seniors, Guests and Sandy Lodge members arrived hoping the forecasters had got it wrong.
Everyone tucked into their bacon rolls and a morning “party” developed, helped along by some bright words by our then Club Vice-Captain Paul Boyle, the decision to postpone having been taken at 9.00am when the Green Keeper’s radar looked even worse that the Met Office prediction.
The Assistant General Manager, Ben Stockman, came to the rescue and hurriedly rearranged the Club Diary and by the following day we were able to start again! Almost everyone who had booked to play in our aborted first attempt signed up immediately and we all arrived on 25th September to enjoy a glorious sunny day. No, you guessed it, again it was raining cats and dogs.
After breakfast, determined not to be defeated, it was decided that golf is an outdoor sport and the rain would not deter us. Remarkably, as the first groups teed off from the 18 tees, 92 players taking part in the shot-gun start, the rain stopped and at times the sun appeared. As the last group arrived back at the clubhouse the rain started again!
For the report on the Wags 50th Anniversary click here
The Wags serving King and Country
We all remain forever indebted to our Wags of a bygone era, those heroes of 1939-45 who served their country. Many of us in 2020 still remember them well, inspirational modest men all.
The last survivor is Bill Broadhurst, past head-master from Pinner Wood School, ex RAF preparing to partake in the recapture of Singapore in 1945 when VJ day was announced following the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. Bill will be 100 next January.
Others include Gordon Whyte, seen here with Churchill, Stalin and Truman at Potsdam. Gordon translated for Churchill.
Ron Fawcett cleared mines on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, and Ivan Trobe was one of the first to enter Belsen as photographer when it was liberated. He also flew with RAF bombers taking aerial pictures, flying through heavy flak.
Bill Bates was commissioned into the Indian Army in May 1942 and posted to the 3rd Battalion 8th Gurkha Rifles at Trichinopoly. A week after the action in which he was awarded an MC, Bill led his company in an attack across 300 yards of open ground. The Japanese were overwhelmed; 35 were killed for the loss of three Gurkhas killed and 10 wounded, including Bill who was evacuated to England.
When Bill was no longer able to play golf he became the Wags Scribe, organising our playing order and competitions every Wednesday splendidly. No wonder he could keep us all in order!
For more details of Bill’s wartime service please click here
George Mummery took a convoy of vehicles on the dangerous journey from Syria to Alexandria to support Montgomery in North Africa.
George Brampton , after training in Canada, served in the RAF as a Navigator in Coastal Command flying Sunderland Flying Boats. He flew on convoy protection and anti-submarine patrols in the North Atlantic. Further service saw him in the Mediterranean and Far East. He said “weather was his greatest enemy”. He would also joke that a serious skiing accident in Canada saved his life as his destiny until then had probably been the Mosquito, an extreme form of warfare!
Gordon Paterson served as a lieutenant primarily on HMS Calder on general convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. In later life Gordon often joked that he avoided a posthumous VC as a result of the captain of another escort ship ramming a stricken U-boat before Gordon could carry out an order to board the U-boat.
From his service days, Gordon had great memories of hearing his first opera in war-torn Naples while on brief shore leave. To listen to a 4-part interview with Gordon by the Imperial War Museum click here
John Wendt served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a pilot instructor on an early type of simulator called a Link Trainer, acquiring a moustache and the rank of Flight Sergeant.
Robert (Bob) Creer was born in 1913, and in 1937 before the outbreak of war, he was instrumental in the design and building of the 11 (Fighter) Group Underground Operations Building “The Bunker at Uxbridge”. Subsequently posted to Northern Ireland for construction of radar stations and in 1943 was posted to Cairo then to Kenya as Superintending Engineer Responsible for all works covering Somaliland, Uganda, Kenya, Tanganika, Madagasgar, Mauritius and Seychelles. After the war Robert was responsible for RAF and Civil aviation projects in the UK and Europe, too numerous to list.
His career was crowned with being awarded the O.B.E. in January 1976.
Colin Watts served in the Royal Artillery. Already a territorial, he was mobilised before war was declared and always said he was one of the first to engage the enemy on 3rd September 1939. His anti-aircraft battery was stationed at Scapa Flow and an hour or two after the declaration a large German reconnaissance plane flew over very low. He said they missed! Due in France on D+1, the gale postponed his landing. His unit was attached to the Canadian Army and went with them into Holland and N Germany. By 1945 he held the rank of Lt-Colonel.
Colin became a member of Sandy Lodge in about 1960 and died in 2003 aged 91.
Mike Davies served from 1943 as an 18 year old volunteer on HMS Loch Fyne, a convoy escort vessel in the North Atlantic. In his own words: “There was still enough of the war left to ensure that I was frightened out of my wits quite frequently and what with the fags and the rum, I aged quite rapidly and became an old salt after my first trip. My attempts to grow a beard were laughable and I managed to avoid being tattooed and my taste for rum lasted until I was demobbed and tried to drink the garbage sold as rum to the civilian population”. He became a Chief Superintendent at Scotland Yard and was an extraordinary raconteur, a close friend of Bill Broadhurst. Mike died in 2006 aged 81.
Octogenarians Match 2021
During the Lockdown of 2021 our Club Captain, Paul Boyle, concentrated his Captain’s Blog on the History of Sandy Lodge. His attention was drawn to this History Page and he had the great idea of repeating the historic event of 1977 referred to above and he very kindly agreed to host the day and provide food and drinks for players. This took place on 31 May 2021.
After being welcomed by Paul Boyle, Alan Thackrey, Wags President and Tom Ramage, Wags Captain, we enjoyed pre-match refreshments and Tom took us outside to have a group photograph taken:
We teed off in brilliant sunshine, playing Greensomes Stableford, stopping at the halfway house to be refreshed. On arriving back at the Clubhouse we were again given generous hospitality courtesy of the Club Captain.
Ann Green Speech
What a wonderful day we have had, even the weather has been exceptionally kind. Thank you so much Paul for your suggestion that the Wags may like to organize the event.
The Wags is a very prominent Section within the Club. They do everything with style and today is certainly no exception. Thank you so much.
Over the weekend I was looking at the photograph of those who played in the event in 1997, most of whom I knew. BUT, no ladies. Gentlemen, thank you so much for including us today.
Things are very different now from what they were in 1997 or 1975 when I joined the club. I feel that we ladies now have more equality. You will remember the Men’s Bar, very exclusive, strictly out of bounds to ladies except after a committee meeting when the Ladies Captain and Second ladies Representative (no Ladies Vice Captain in those days) were invited for a drink. We needed it, some of those meetings especially with dear old Jim Smith went on forever – I hope it isn’t still the same.
Things seemed to improve with the structural alterations to the clubhouse. The Board Room with it’s wonderful old table disappeared as did the Men’s Bar, that I think became the Gentlemen and Ladies toilets. The new bar that was constructed was for everyone to use and I think we became an even more sociable club.
Enough of my ramblings. May I say again a very big thank you for the generosity bestowed upon us all today. I hope everybody has enjoyed the day as much as I have.
Garry Glover Speech
When approached by Alan Thackrey to say a few words I said I was the wrong person “Surely Graham Robertson, our sage, source of all wisdom, a member for 68years , joined as a 17 Year old from Merchant Taylors, his father a member”. Alan’s answer: “He declined. Graham does not like speaking in public”.
Octogenarians: the 9th decade, we are the elderly and the wise. Wags/Mixed, inclusive apart from age, there is no age limitation to play in the Wags nor with the Ladies. All ages are welcome, only gender divides. Today includes 6 past captains (3 men/3 ladies), they are all octogenarians plus our 2 current Captains, Paul Boyle and Sue Boultbee. So 8/24 players are or have been Captains.
How did this match come to be? This match is Paul Boyle’s creation, Captain Marvel. Last year the history page on the Wags website was updated. Paul Messenger, our scribe, with others, agreed that we should put on record those Wags we knew personally in the 1990s/2000s. They were to us then “old codgers”, they were the age we are now. They were giants, heroes, veterans of WW2, modest brave men; Ron Fawcett cleared mines at Normandy, Gordon Whyte translated for Churchill meeting Stalin at Potsdam, Bill Bates’ Military Cross, naval convoys, the RAF, entering Belsen, N. Africa, Mike Davies on a North Atlantic convoy escort frigate. Bill Broadhurst the one remaining, who will be 100 in 6 months time. Go to the website. The 1997 photo of the Octogenarians match is part of Wags history. Our Captain surely was inspired on seeing the web-site. “Why not a repeat”?” thought he. His thoughts mean action. Today’s generation never had to face the perils of our predecessors. Several of our fathers did, not only WW2. The Great War of 1914-18, WW1, saw Graham’s father, a SL member, in service, my own father served in France as a member of the 1st Ausralian Imperial Expeditionary Force. I am sure others present had fathers serving.
Pam Montgomery knew these WW2 veterans, I presume Anne and Celia as well as others present, knew these men. Sandy Lodge is an inclusive club, many brave women also served. I trust someone will research their stories. I am delighted this is a mixed event. Both our Sections are privileged to have their own tee-times, much appreciated and not taken for granted. A story exists that of one of the ladies asking if she could join the Wags and play with them was informed that the Wags are inclusive for all members; she was welcome to play on the proviso the Wags would equally have access to the Ladies tee-time. Nothing more was said and today’s event demonstrates the harmony existing between our two Sections.
Sandy Lodge is more than a golf club, it is family. It has been an important part of my life. I joined 1979, proposed and seconded by two lady members who were subsequenly Ladies captains, the late Helen Mayer and the late Jane Forbes, they were both close personal friends and colleagues. Our Sandy Lodge family has a loyal dedicated devoted membership, several of the current Wags are sons of past Wags, Robert Wendt, Adrian Paterson, Dave Brampton, Peter Creer, Tim Watts, Clive Fickling. I am sure it is the same with the Ladies section, Jane Forbes’ father, Bob Lochhead, was a member as were Jane’s husbands, Bruce Peat and Stewart Forbes, sadly Jane was widowed twice.
Thank you Paul for gifting us this occasion, typical of your consideration for your Sandy Lodge family and the past. We are indebted to you for guiding us, entertaining us and working for us during a period unique in the history of our Club. The 111 years encompasses two World Wars, a major depression, and now a pandemic. Although no comparison, Covid has impacted on us all. We are living through unique and historic times. Your generosity is munificent, today is such an example. These have been difficult testing times. Your frequent welcome educational blogs have helped us through.
One must never criticize the Captain in public, but allow me a comment: looking around I see very very few “Fellow Athletes”, I am flattered but it’s not so. Today is your inspiration, your day, our day; we honour those great men and women who preceded us, who served Sandy Lodge Golf Club and our Nation. On behalf of us all, we thank you.
Sue Boultbee presented the prizes and
Paul Boyle completed the day with some well chosen closing remarks and everyone went home very happy to have been at this, yet another, historic event at Sandy Lodge.
On the tee (click on picture to see large version)
On the course (click on picture to see large version)
Wining and dining (click on picture to see large version)