Australian Rugby Players, Lemons and a Sponge at Boothferry Park

During such visits the Hull/HKR team used the home dressing room and Jimmy Lodge was in charge of it and the adjacent medical room. I usually tagged along for the ride, although I have always enjoyed the oval ball game.

Just before one match two of the Australian players came into the home dressing room with a box full of lemons and asked if they could have a knife to cut them, which was duly found. There was some banter between them and the hull players and one of them squeezed a lemon down the front of a naked Hull player.

Now, lemon juice has an effect which I recommend you do not experience. When you get hot and perspire it tends to burn and sting just like it does if you get it into an open wound.

In those days (the 1950's) the mainstay of the “medical” team was either smelling salts or a sponge kept inside an old bladder in a bucket of water by the touchline. As the Hull player got hotter and hotter and began to perspire he began to have a rather uncomfortable experience and kept coming to the touchline, grabbing the sponge and thrusting it down his shorts, much to the wonder of the fans and the amusement of the Australian dugout. Apparently, the Lady Mayoress was not amused by this sight and there was a “tactical” substitution at half-time.

That game was also memorable for the number of balls which lodged behind the stanchions which held the floodlights on the roof of the East Stand. I was kept well away from groundsman Stan Coombs when he realised he was going to be the one to have to get them down

Rugby at BP did, of course, stop for a long period after it was outlawed by the Football League when a game attracted a huge crowd at Maine Road and just along the road one of the Manchester area clubs got their lowest gate of the season. That decision was effectively taken by Alan Hardaker and he always said it was one of the saddest and hardest of his life. Alan, secretary of the Football League, was a Hull man and one of the people greatly affected by the ruling was his own brother Ernest, who was Chairman of Hull.