December 4 - 1905 All Blacks in Cheltenham

Following their test win over England the All Blacks arrive at Cheltenham to play the local club. Cheltenham had taken a risk in putting up a guarantee to secure the match, and now, with the All Blacks being so successful, were assured of a handsome profit. Billy Stead records their visit.

From “Billy’s Trip Home” published 2005 by NZ Sports Hall of Fame p.48.

“On Monday, December 4, a party of the team went to the Agricultural Show, where they were introduced to His Majesty the King, and the rest of the team proceeded to the pretty city of Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, where we were “billed” to play our next game. We had well nigh got used to the excited crowds that greeted us on arrival in a fresh city, but I cannot help remarking the splendid reception we received from the elated population of this city. You will perhaps see a reason (apart from the ordinary) for this excitement. Here was a young club, whose average gate did not exceed thirty shillings, who had handed in a date and given the necessary guarantee for a match, who had also taken a probable risk of our team not being a sufficiently good draw. Small wonder is it then that, as our wonderful playing ability asserted and advertised itself, the club found that they were inundated with applications for seats and the success of their venture was assured. Last and not least they had the satisfaction of refusing an offer of £300 for their fixture from the large, wealthy, but disappointed Lancashire union.

Favoured with beautiful weather, we took full advantage of it to have a good look round what is perhaps the prettiest inland sanatorium city in England. It is the permanent residence of a very wealthy monied class and a very large percentage of the remainder are retired half-pay army officers. It has three large colleges for young men and a very fine one for ladies, at which some twelve hundred were at classes when we visited the institution.”