On 30 December 2020 the following tribute to Ivor Oakes was published on the homepage of the Gloucester Rugby Website [to which we’ve added a picture of him in the United team of 1950/51]:
IVOR OAKES | A LEGEND WITHIN THE PLAYING & FITNESS SIDE OF GLOUCESTER RUGBY
Ivor Oakes | 1928 – 2020
We sadly lost Ivor on Boxing Day at the age of 92 and on behalf of the Club/Former players we send our deepest sympathies to his family.
The upper picture shows Ivor taking part in the Tredworth walking race during the 50’s along with Tom, his brother, who was also a legend at Kingsholm, Tom being the groundsman for many years.
Ivor was asked by Mike Nicholls, the Club Captain during the early 70’s, to take on the responsibility of getting the players fit.
“Ivor did a great job and thrived on it. However, former players still wake during the night to Ivor telling them to keep going and get that little man off their shoulders. At this point you were crying for your mother, it was hell, but it worked Gloucester became a side to be reckoned with”
Ivor and Tom were my mother’s cousins and great family friends, Ivor will be sadly missed.
GOOD NIGHT GOD BLESS IVOR
Gloucester Rugby President
Words from Mike Burton:
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Ivor Oakes over the Christmas holiday. I have fond memories of his time training Gloucester Rugby. When he did so much to develop the fitness levels that put us ahead of our opponents.
He worked well with Mike Nicholls, in getting us to a level of physical and mental fitness that ensured the Gloucester teams of that era were confident in their ability to take on all comers and all conditions.
When the going got tough on a wet Wednesday night in Pontypool he would bark an order from the side-line about that “little man in your head”
His methods were not fashionable but relentless and hard. He turned out a Gloucester team that played with the right attitude and the will to win.
We had a big productive pack, who were not fussy where they put their feet (Ivor loved that) to hard centres and a goal kicker.
My abiding memory of Ivor will be the regular runs he to us on up Robinswood Hill. He was well into his forties by then and on one occasion when I was nearing the summit he ran up behind me and kicked me so hard up the rear end that I actually accelerated away from his with the sound of his voice telling me I was a “bloody disgrace” for allowing an old fella like him to be anywhere near me.
Thanks Ivor, it was all worthwhile. God Bless.
A number of Former Players also paid tribute to Ivor:
“A Club Legend with happy memories of training with Ivor” Andy Auster
“I’m sure ‘the little man on your shoulder’ will live on for those who remember” Steve Mills
“Rest well Ivor and fond memories” Terry Hopson
“GRFC owe Ivor great respect for the hours he put into our training. Ivor will be missed Cobber’ and well respected by all players. I did play alongside Ivor he was a hard and gritty player and took no prisoners” John Bayliss
“I have very found memories of Ivor as he wasn’t just the Trainer he was a big part of the Club” Richard Mogg
“I’ll have never forget his polite urging on his beloved ‘over and unders’ RIP old friend” Steve Boyle
“A real character. We all remember the pain of the last run around the pitch at the end of training, but also the laughs” John Horner
“Still carry the scars ‘Physically and Mentally’ of his encouragement to push you to your physical limit” Phil Pritchard
“Those who came into contact with Ivor remember the steps and personally that little man that always seem to be on my shoulder!!” Peter Butler
“Ivor embodied what we as a club was about at the time. A very important man to the future of Gloucester Rugby” Keith Richardson
“Ivor was a character and a legend in his own way I’m sure, but it was a honour to know him and be trained by him” Padraig Conway