November 3 - 1924 All Blacks visit Ulster

Having beaten Ireland 6 – 0 in Dublin the soon to be “Invincibles” journey to Belfast to play Ulster, and find the local Customs officials and police taking their duties very seriously.

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.61.

“At 3 p.m. on Monday, November 3rd, we said good-bye to Dublin, and after spending two and a half hours in the train, journeying through Ireland’s pretty countryside, with occasional glimpses of its rugged coast, we arrived at Belfast. We were reminded of the bad feeling that existed between Ulster and the South of Ireland by the fact that after we had passed into Ulster territory Customs officials boarded our train, and searched our baggage for firearms, etc. It looked very strange to see the Belfast police wearing heavy colt revolvers in their belts.

Although a little rain had fallen during the morning, our match against Ulster on Wednesday, November 5th, was played in brilliant weather, and the ground at Ravenhill was in almost perfect order. Among the 16,000 spectators, who gave us a very cordial reception, was the Duke of Aberercorn, Governor of Ulster, to whom we were presented prior to the commencement of the game. The Duchess of Abercorn, the Marquis of Hamilton, the Marquis and Marchioness of Londonderry, Sir James and Lady Craig, the Mayor of Belfast (Sir William Turner) were also present. The Ulster emblem, a blood red hand, looked very gruesome on the team’s white jerseys, and the legend relating to it is a particularly thrilling one.—An Irish chieftain, when he was dying, sent the following message to his two sons: “The one whose hand shall first touch land I give the Province of Ulster.” When the message was delivered, the two brothers, who were dining with friends on the opposite side of the bay, immediately selected their boats and crews, and although it was a. dark, stormy night, started on the perilous crossing. When morning came the coveted shore was only half a mile away, and a grim struggle against the elements ensued. Fifteen yards from land, when the boats were almost level, one of the brothers, drawing his sword, cut off his hand and flung it ashore. He was hailed by the waiting spectators as their new Chieftain.”

Read Masters