Goes in Rugby World
the pitch was firm, the sun was shining. the dressing room was basic and stark, wrote Lions lock Gordon Brown, discussing the build-up to the third test v New Zealand in 1971. i started getting ready when Barry John let out a yell: “i’ve left my boots in the hotel!”
We began to panic a bit because it had taken us half an hour to get to the ground in Wellington, and with the increased traffic there was no way the boots could be picked up and brought back before the kick- off in 45 minutes. Barry calmly went to find a police motorcyclist and sent him off to the hotel at top speed to pick up his boots.
As the kick- off drew nearer, Syd (John Dawes) was building his team talk to a climax, yet the only thing on our minds was, ‘ When will those bloody boots get here?’
Barry was unconcerned. Before every game, he’d sit in the corner of the changing room with his eyes closed, almost as if he was saying, ‘ the team talk is for the other lads. Now, what am i going to do today?’
So there we all were, having this team talk, and Barry was sitting in his socks, apparently half asleep in the corner, when the door burst open and the policeman crashed in, frantically waving the boots. “i’ve got them, Mr John!” Barry thanked him, then said: “You haven’t polished them!” l From When Lions Roared, published by polaris, RRp £17.99.