The Battle of the Boot

Apprentices vs Journeymen

The Battle of the Boot was an annual game of rugby played between the apprentices and journeymen. This photo was taken before a game in the early 1970s.

Back row (standing L-R)

Fred Richards; Chris Cruise; Ian Anderson; John Knight; Jim Smith; Mike Fortey; Tony Hope; Gary Thomas; Peter Pickernell; Bob Galling; Garth Cromwell.

Front row (squatting L-R)

Peter Wood; Alan Watkins; Martin Jones; Adrian Wellington; Clive Dix; Larry Thomas.

If you can help us identify the team and its players, or if you have memories of playing in a match and remember the apprentice-journeyman banter and rivalries, then please leave a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • Yes, I remember at least playing in one or more Battles of the Boot, also playing seven seasons with Fielding rugby team, also for the Apprentice side and the seven-a-side team. All very enjoyable and the backbone of the club was Jim Haines and he would also help out if we were short of players.

    By Alan Stuart Jay (25/10/2021)
  • Thanks Martin – that completes the line up! Was Larry the funny guy of the team like his brother?!

    I notice you’re in the middle of the front row, too, holding the ball – does that mean you were the captain?! I wonder what memories you have of playing in the team and the Battle of the Boot? It must’ve been a hard game but with a good bit of banter at the end of it!

    By Ollie Taylor (04/04/2013)
  • The only player not yet named is on the right of the front row and is Larry Thomas who lived in Longlevens and is the brother of local comedian Gerry Thomas.

    By Martin Jones (28/03/2013)
  • The missing name in the back row is Bob Galling, the crane driver.

    By Colin Price (28/02/2013)
  • Cheers Colin – that’s great, we’ve got the whole of the back row now! – did Bob drive the cranes in the Machine Shop or the Fitting Shop? Did you work at Fielding’s yourself and play rugby for them too? If so, were you invovled in the Battle of the Boot too…?!

    By Ollie Taylor (28/02/2013)
  • Ahhhh, I see, so that’s why it was called “The Battle of the Boot”! Thank you, Tony, the cup sounds like a real treasure – I wonder what happened to it in the end?! I take it that you were the Journeymen XV in the year pictured? Speaking of the booze and the party afterwards, it would be great to know whether there were any songs, chants, or other celebratory traditions associated with Fielding’s rugby – and what they were?!

    By Ollie Taylor (18/01/2013)
  • As I remember, the match was played at the end of the rugby season. An evening match, with a lot of drink consumed after the game. The trophy was a red shield (I think), with an old rugby boot with studs that were nailed into the sole attached to it. The winner’s names were around the outside.

    Photograph personnel

    Back row: Fred Richards, Chris Cruise, Ian Anderson, John Knight, Jim Smith, Mike Forty, Tony Hope, Gary Thomas, Peter Pickernell, ? , Garth Cromwell.

    Front row: Peter Wood, Alan Watkins, Martin Jones, Adrian Wellington, Clive Dix, ? .

    Regards Tony Hope

    By Tony Hope (17/01/2013)
  • Thanks for adding this page Ian. It’s a fascinating insight into the company’s sporting traditions! When was “The Battle of the Boot” played – in the autumn when the new apprentices had just arrived? I wonder whether there was a cup – or was the match played for fun and bragging rights?! It would be interesting to know how many years this match had been played for – and which side usually came out on top?!

    By Ollie Taylor (07/01/2013)

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