Boughton v Parker

In the 1930s, Gloucester enjoyed the luxury of 2 outstanding fullbacks, who played not only for the club, but for county and country as well – Harold Boughton and Grahame Parker. Each had his supporters (and detractors). At the request of the club’s President, Dr Alcock, the club committee considered at their meeting on 15th December 1936, a letter which he had received from Mr E J Boughton of 35, RoseberryPark, Dursley. The letter read as follows:

“I think that it is about time that something was done regarding Harold Boughton’s playing career. For the past 10 seasons he has served his club and county as only a player of his ability could have done. Yet we find him out of the team except for one or two occasions & even then he was on form, so there must be some bickering going on between the Selection Committee. It is rumoured that H Boughton was selected for the County team to play Devon at Gloucester, but was overruled by a notable Gloucester International who pushed G W Parker into his position, with the result that Boughton has been dropped ever since. All we supporters ask is fair play and seeing that you are President of the Gloucester RFC perhaps you will see we get it.”

After very full discussion it was greed the following letter be sent to the writer (subject to Dr Alcock’s approval):

“Your letter addressed to our President was considered by my Committee who direct me to state that the rumour stated by you in your letter is untrue and should not be repeated. We consider an apology is due to the “well known International” referred to by you, through the Committee of this Club. If this apology is not forthcoming the matter will be placed before our legal adviser with a view to further action being taken.”

At the next committee meeting on 29th December, a reply from Mr E J Boughton was read out:

“Regarding your letter received 31st December I must ask you to thank your committee for taking the trouble to satisfy my questions regarding the rumour that got to my knowledge. That matter is closed and will not be repeated I assure you. Now to answer your apology. Firstly the rumour was not started by me, as I have no intention whatever to arouse bad feelings, as I have no definite proof as to how or where it started. Please ask your committee to accept my humble apologies

Yours faithfully, E J Boughton”

It was agreed that the reply be considered acceptable and placed on the minutes.

This sort of reaction from a section of Gloucester supporters always made the modest Grahame Parker rather uncomfortable. He recorded his feelings in an article which he wrote for the centenary booklet entitled “Just Another Elver-Eater”:

“I could not expect to replace Harold Boughton, so I joined Blackheath. For some reason Harold didn’t start the 1936-37 season and I came down to Gloucester every Saturday. Later he became available.

There seemed to be some contention over the matter and every time I stepped up to take a penalty someone would shout, “Where’s Harold?” My first visit to the Kingsholm ground since those days was in 1970 to see the Western Counties – Fiji game. Scarcely had I arrived when someone recognised me and said – (you’ve guessed it!) – “Where’s Harold, then?” Boughton was restored to the Gloucester side at the beginning of the 1937-38 season. I rejoined Blackheath and by some process of elimination played in two international matches. The happiest moment in the first, at Dublin, was when someone shouted above the din, “Good old Barton Street!” But I have always regretted that Blackheath was after my name instead of my native Gloucester.”

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