J H Bown

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Gloucester and Stroud utility back

By John Theyers

John Bown was a utility back who played for Gloucester from 1935 to 1939.  Although primarily a centre, he played at full back, wing and outside half for Gloucester and wing and outside half for Gloucestershire. He also played for Stroud and Old Wycliffians.

John Henry Bown was born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1914. His father, who came from Stroud, served in the India Police. John was educated at Wycliffe College and played for the Public Schools XV in 1932. He was an all round sportsman and played cricket for Wycliffe.  

He went up to Cambridge in October 1933 and won the inter-college pole vault championship the following summer. Competition for three quarter places was exceptionally tough at the time and, although in October 1934 he had a Seniors Rugby Trial for Cambridge, he failed to get into the first XV. He joined Stroud RFC and in January 1935 featured strongly in a 21-3 victory over London Irish (not surprisingly Stroud’s finest performance of the season).  

Bown left Cambridge to join the 2nd Gloucester Regiment and in December 1935, while on leave from the regiment, made his debut for Gloucester in a 13-5 win at Moseley. He played occasionally, when available, for the next two seasons.  

By the start of the 1937-38 season, Bown had left the Army and taken a post in Gloucester. He became a regular in the centre from the first game, playing out of position when required. He was selected for the county to play on the wing against Devon after only a few games. He swapped places with the injured outside half at half time and was then selected at outside half for the next game.  

Bown formed a successful partnership in the centre with Bill Phillips in 1937-38, which under the captaincy of John A’Bear was one of the best in the club’s history. In a 10-8 win over Oxford University In November 1937, which the Citizen said “will long be remembered in Gloucester football annals”, John Bown and Bill Phillips “did many clever things in attack and were resolute in defence”. He was a regular in the centre until the outbreak of war when he rejoined the regiment. His last recorded major match was for the Army in Ireland against the British Army in December 1941 (Francis Edwards played for the British Army).    

This page was added by John Theyers on 27/01/2010.

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