1956 England Tour Party of South Africa

Returning from South Africa, England first tour abroad,  in 1956 are: From the top, left to right - Jo Wigman, Jo Higgins, Irene Hogg, Jackie Ogden, Fay Smith, Annette Cairncross, Hazel Chapman, (front) Rena Stratford Manager/Coach, Mary French (nee Bushell) and Rose Harris Umpire.
Daily Express
Back row - l-r - Irene Hogg, Margaret Pamplin, Josephine Wigman, Annette Cairncross, Jacqueline Ogden, Josephine Higgins, Fay Smith Front row l-r - Hazel Chapman (Vice Captain) Rose Harris (Umpire) Mary Bushell (Captain) Rene Stratford (Manager/Coach) Nora Ashworth. Table Mountain in the background.

I met Hazel Chapman today (7.9.19) at the Bergman Osterberg Union AGM and Reunion – who is an amazing 92 year old who was reminiscing over lunch about her days playing for England and touring South Africa in 1956 with Mary French.

Joan Mills.

Extracts from Hazel’s diary on tour in 1956

HAZEL CHAPMAN diary  –  July to September 1956 – Tour of South Africa

Saturday 28th July 1956

Had quite a good night – woke up every time the train stopped and started but soon went back to sleep again.    Got up at 7am – breakfast at 8am.   Packed the cases – played cards and all of a sudden came to Vryburg.

Seemed at first to be an ordinary station – but oh no – on the platform were literally hundreds of the townsfolk – crowding everywhere – on the roofs and platforms.   After rather a long time we managed to clamber down (in fact we were not ready!) dressed in our white blazers – and were greeted by the Mayoress – complete with chain of office!    Amid the shouting, singing and cheering we had to walk down a double line of the Stellaland players (dressed in pink hats blouses – black blazers and skirts and shoes) under their pink banner – and up onto the decorated float (by way of a chain!)

After this unbelievable welcome the procession started off – a water cart to lay the dust – police motor cycle – relaying music – Stellaland mascot a small girl dressed in pink in a pony cart – England in their float drawn by four plumed horses (the ostrich plumes being specially sent from the Cape) – Stellaland players in their float – all surrounded by outriders on horses – then a procession of 20 – 30 cars.  As we set off to terrific cheering the train also went on its way – whistling loudly with the passengers hanging out of the windows wondering what on earth was happening – the cars also were tooting.   The procession went on its way – about one mile around the town – very dusty as few of the roads had a tarmac surface.  At last we approached the New Central Hotel – more decorations on all buildings and a vast banner across the road saying “Welcome to Vryburg” – and again large crowds – all the town had turned out to see us.

With the aid of the chain we descended and went into the hotel to the lounge and were welcomed to morning tea by the Mayor and Mayoress and Miss Myburg (President of Stellaland N.A.)    Rena made her first speech in Africans and then we went upstairs to unpack while Rena gave a short lecture.   To our amazement as we went into our rooms – there were all our cases and bags in the correct rooms – we had last seen them being passed out of the train windows on Vryburg Station.  In each room were a plate of goodies,  a large box of cigarettes and some fruit.

A wonderful greeting was that any washing could be put in the end room and would be ready the same afternoon!   Four irons were put at our disposal and we quickly set to ironing our uniform and evening clothes – Mrs Shawe was magnificent at organising for our needs.   Soon came lunchtime – then we changed into playing clothes – and into the float again and off to the field (causing a traffic jam – never before known in Vryburg)

Once on the field we were given a great welcome and shown to our seats (front row at one end of the court).   There were 3 curtain raisers – a school match – then 2 provincial matches.  For the first time we saw the South African custom of (a) wearing numbers on the players backs (b) running on to the court after lining up behind the Captain behind the goal post.    We then took the court – leading on to the ground (all 12 of us) lining up and being introduced to the Mayor – The Stellaland players then gave us each a lovely broach (made with Springbok fur).

Then our match v Stellaland

Shooter    –   Annette Cairncross.     Attack     –  Irene Hogg.       Attacking Centre    –   Jacqueline Ogden.     Centre   –   Hazel Chapman.      Defencing Centre –  Margaret Pamplin.    Defence   –  Mary Bushell.    Goal Keeper   –  Jo Higgins.             Won 17-11

It was a hard game on the very dusty court.

After the match, much autographing and photographing we returned in the float to the hotel and had cold drinks with the team.    A hurried bath was necessary and we all descended down the stairs to the Mayor’s cocktail party.  All the local officials were there and after some drinks and talking there were several speeches of thanks.  The Mayor pointing out that this was the very first time any touring team had ever stopped in Vryburg.  Then the English team thanked Vryburg for its wonderful and unbelievable and unforgettable welcome – and it was my turn to make the speech!    A dance followed which lasted until 12 midnight but only 4 of our party managed to stay up that long.    Shared a room with Jacqueline Ogden

Vryburg appeared like the Cowboy western film towns – very dusty roads and shops with the veranda like front.   Some of the Stellaland players could speak only very little English.    To us the weather seemed like summer.     During the afternoon at the match we watch a mole “coming up for air” by the goalpost!

Riding in the float – Mrs Myburg’s “Wave Miss – Arms – Waaaave”        Vryburg authorities realised train was late – so they phoned through to Mafeking to hurry it up – and they did!

Thursday 7th August

A shorty run out (70 miles!) to Paarl at 9am.    Toured around the Rembrant Cigarette factory – horrible small at the beginning where all the various mixtures of tobacco are.    Elevenses in the canteen – then ushered onto the K.W.V. wine factory – saw round a huge Vats containing thousands of gallons of wine – of course drinks of all kinds.    Straight on to a Mayoral reception and lunch for which we were not really prepared!! Or dressed!!     Walked into the Hall where the Mayor and Corporation and many others were to great us and give us more drinks!

Then into Banqueting Hall for lunch with about 80 people.  Somehow, we managed to get through the very long and full menu.    After a few short speeches by the Mayor, Rene and Mary, we staggered out and were driven to a nearby farm (passing the French Hugenot memorial on the way) for afternoon tea!!!   While there we picked fruit (oranges etc) from the trees and ate them – we found that on the farm they had a barn converted into a roller-skating rink – so very quickly some of us took to skates and tottered round and round – Jo and Jac were the star performers at this!

We had hoped to be able to go up Table Mountain but unfortunately it was still too windy for the cableway so we made out way home leisurely – dinner straight away.    Then we bathed, dressed and did some packing and prepared ourselves for the Farewell party we were attending.

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