LAST GLIMPSES OF LONDON.
On Wednesday morning, prior to the luncheon with the Prince of Wales, several of us accompanied Sir James and Lady Allen to the King’s College Hospital, where, after being received by Mr. G. L. Hawker, representing the Committee; Dr. Aldred Turner, Senior Neurologist; and the Matron, Miss M. A. Willcox, R.R.C., Cliff Porter affixed a plate inscribed “The New Zealand Bed” at the head of a cot in one of the wards. The New Zealand Bed is the outcome of donations contributed by many people in New Zealand in response to an appeal made on behalf of the hospital by the Overseas League. During the War, King’s (or No. 4 London General) treated over 29,000 wounded soldiers, many of whom came from the Dominions. In recognition of the services rendered by the Hospital, the appeal met with a wide and very ready response, and as a result there are now three beds named after Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand respectively. We were shown over the Hospital, which is said to be the most up-to-date in London. I had a chat with one little boy, who had been born a cripple, and the first thing he asked me was, “Is George Nepia in the party I have read about his wonderful play, and I would like to see him, please.” Unfortunately George was not with us.
PRESENTATION OF LOVING CUPS.
At 4 p.m., following the luncheon, we proceeded to the Hotel Victoria, where, after we had taken tea with some 300 New Zealanders, Sir James Allen, on behalf of 400 New Zealanders in Great Britain, asked Mr. Dean to accept for the New Zealand Rugby Union a sterling silver loving cup in commemoration of our successful tour. The beautiful trophy bore the following inscription :—
“A loving cup from New Zealanders in the Old Country to the New Zealand Rugby Union, given in remembrance of the Tour of the New Zealand Rugby Football Team through England, Ireland, and Wales in the winter of 1924-5. Record of matches: Won 28, lost 0.”
The following verse, written by Hon. W. Pember Reeves, a former High Commissioner, was also inscribed thereon:-
“To the shining leaf, and the jersey black,
To the journey without defeat,
To the mighty heart of the striving pack,
And the runners with flying feet.
This loving cup drink, drink in turn,
While memory stirs each breast,
And lift it high to the Silver Fern,
And the record which beat the best.”
A small replica of the handsome trophy was afterwards handed to each player by Lady Allen. Sir Arthur Myers, ex-Mayor of Auckland, later presented us all with an inscribed gold medal as a token of his great appreciation of our unbroken record, and in doing so, said that they all knew that the team had played the game.
From “With the All Blacks in Great Britain, France, Canada and Australia 1924-25” by Read Masters. Pub. 1928 by Christchurch Press Co. Ltd p.133-134.
Note. Between the two presentation described above the All Blacks were farewelled by the British Olympic Association at a luncheon at the Piccadilly Hotel. Read Masters description of the prestigious luncheon is naturally enough very full and takes up an entire chapter. A briefer account appears below.
“After their brief visit to France the All Blacks returned to England, where they were quartered in London at Berner’s Hotel. On Wednesday, 21 January, the British Olympic Association farewelled the New Zealanders at the Piccadilly Hotel. The function was attended by representatives of all British sporting bodies and numerous other dignitaries. Lord Desborough, of the British Olympic Association, was in the chair and between him and the Prince of Wales sat Cliff Porter.
The Prince proposed the toast to the team and mentioned his memories of the 1905 All Blacks, He paid glowing tributes to the 1924 team, praising its combination, efficiency, fitness and sportsmanship, and expressed the hope that it would not be too long before another team came from New Zealand. Stan Dean and Cliff Porter made suitable replies.
After the Earl of Lonsdale had proposed a toast
to Lord Desborough, the Prince of Wales presented a loving cup to the team on behalf of English sportsmen, as a tribute to the All Blacks’ remarkable achievements. The Prince was then photographed with the team and autographed each player’s menu card.
The team then had afternoon tea at the Hotel Victoria, where Sir James Allen presented them with another loving cup on behalf of New Zealanders living in Britain. A small replica of the handsome sterling- silver trophy was presented to each player by Lady Allen. The former mayor of Auckland, Sir Arthur Myers, was also present and gave each team member an inscribed gold medal as a token of his appreciation of the All Blacks’ unbeaten record.”
From “Centenary – 100 Years of All Black Rugby” by R H Chester and N A C McMillan. Published 1984 by Moa Publications Ltd. P. 153-4.