October 22 - 1888 "Natives" beaten by Middlesex and - hospitality

Having beaten Surrey and Kent the “Natives” accepted an invitation from the Earl of Sheffied to play a Middlesex side at his country estate before an invitation only crowd. But instead of the scratch side expected the New Zealanders found themselves up against a county side that included English, Scottish and Welsh internationals. A pre match luncheon, on a scale the visitors were quite unaccustomed to, compounded their problems and they were well beaten.

“MATCH No. 7.—versus MIDDLESEX.

English sports owe much to the patronage of our nobility, and there are few cricketers but are aware of the immense good done for Sussex cricket by the Earl of Sheffield. Hitherto his lordship has not identified himself very prominently with the winter pastime, but with the same desire as prompted him to extensive outlay in entertaining the Australian cricketers in 1884 and 1886, he resolved to invite the New Zealand Footballers to his charming seat near Fletching, which is situate about midway between East Grinstead and Lewes, on the London and Brighton branch which connects those two towns. At first a match against a scratch team was mooted, but these kind of matches do not find very much favor with players, and Middlesex not having arranged a fixture, and being at the same time willing to try conclusions with a side that had already conquered Sursey and Kent, Mr Rowland Hill gladly shifted the responsibility of getting together the home fifteen on to the metropolitan county, who were able to place a very powerful side in the field, including, as it did, English, Welsh, and Scottish Internationals. Four changes were made from the advertised team, Fagan, Collier, Robinson, and Clibborn being the absentees, but their substitutes—Johnston, Hedderwick, Cousins, and Lockwood—worked well, the Richmond player being especially prominent.

Many of the contestants travelled to Brighton on Sunday evening, this being by far the most convenient route for those who had accepted the invitation of Lord Sheffield to luncheon at the house prior to the match, which was not set to commence until three o’clock. The Maoris, however, rose betimes, and travelled by the 7.55 from town. A large party accepted the hospitality of his lordship, and then a move was made to the pretty cricket ground which was to be the scene of the encounter, the wait being enlivened by the strains of Mr Devin’s band of the 1st Sussex Artillery. For the same reasons as have unfortunately kept the park closed during the summer, the company present on the occasion under notice was limited to those receiving invitations, and the most complete steps were taken to prevent the presence of intruders. Among the spectators were Mr Justice Grantham, Col. King-Sampson, Lord Monk-Bretton, Sir G. Shiffner, Mr Chatterton, and, as may be expected, a large sprinkling of shining lights in the football world, including Messrs A. Budd (president of the Rugby Union), F. I. Currey, S. E. Sleigh, F. W. Bernand, C. W. Alcock, W. Newham, H. L. Asbmore, J. A. Murdoch, arid I-I. Furniss, (Lord’s) &c., the total number falling short of a couple of hundred.

Maclagan set the game in motion on behalf of Middlesex from the western goal at seven minutes past three. The New Zealanders quickly showed to the fore, and in the course of the first few minutes were very conspicuous by several good rushes, in which they used their feet well. Inglis then headed an effort, which carried the fight well within the visitors’ lines, but the ball was touched down. Roberts put in a rattling run, but made a bad pass, or a try must have resulted. Directly afterwards, however, Lindsay got possession from a line-out, and dribbled the ball over the line, securing the first try for Middlesex about eight or nine minutes after the start. Johnston took the place, but did not improve upon the point. The visitors continued to act chiefly on the defensive, Cousins being conspicuous in a couple of splendid rushes, while Inglis, Hammond, and Surtees were always well on the ball. After another seven or eight minutes had elapsed, Roberts received the leather from a smart pass by Gould, and running right through the Maori defence, grounded the ball behind the Colonists’ goal, Johnston on this occasion having little difficulty placing a goal . Anderson on re-starting put in a fine run, but the Maoris replied with a counter effort on the part of Gage and Keogh, though they were palpably out-played in every department of the game. Gould and Lindsay made a pretty combined effort, Inglis from a line-out carrying the ball still nearer the New Zealand goal. A scrummage followed, after which Maclagan made a plucky attempt to drop a goal, but the only result was a minor point. The next noteworthy feature was a good dribble by Hedderwick, and Hammond followed by a splendid bit of combined passing, in which almost all the Middlesex backs had a hand. Just before half-time. Inglis got possession, and transferred to Anderson, who made a grand run, and wound up with another try, which Johnston failed to convert, and when the whistle sounded the interval the score stood at a goal and two tries to nil in favor of the metropolitans.

Play for the first few minutes in the second half was carried on in the vicinity of the centre line. Lindsay, who had not been shining too brilliantly, made a capital drop, but the only result was another minor. The Englishmen continued to hold the upper hand, and Anderson, after a scrumnmage, put in a rattling run which ended in a fourth try, Johnston again failing with the shot at goal. On resuming, Keogh made his mark, but at too great a distance to prove dangerous. Gould tried once or twice to get away without success, and then Elliott put in a splendid rush, but was collared, when he looked like getting in, by Surtees. Madigan twice made dashing but fruitless runs, but the county would not be denied, and, continuing to press, Lindsay, from a distance of about thirty yards, dropped a splendid goal. The only other items were a brilliant run by Madigan, who all but scored, and a further minor registered against the New Zealanders, who were defeated in the end by two goals, three tries, and five minors to nil. The following were the teams, the Scottish division working especially well:

“Middlesex: A. S. Johnston (Blackheath) back, W, E. Maclagan (London Scottish), captain; A. J. Gould (Richmond), and G. C. Lindsay (London Scottish), three-quarter-backs; J. H. Roberts (Richmond), and D. G. Anderson London Scottish), halfbacks; F. C. Cousins (Richmond), G. L. Jeffery (Blackheath), R. E. Inglis (Blackheath), J. H. Hedderwick (London Scottish), T. W. Lockwood (Middlesex Wanderers), J. Hammond (Blackheath), J. G. Patterson (London Scottish), A. A. Surtees (Harlequins), and E. S. M’Euen (Old Cheltonians), forwards.

New Zealanders: D. Gage, back; W. Wynyard, E. McCausland, captain, and C. Madigan, three-quarter-backs; J. Keogh, F. Warbrick, and W. Elliott, half-hacks ; T. Ellison, Art.

Warbrick, W. Karauria, 0. Williams, W. Anderson, H. Lee, A. Webster, and R. Taiaroa, forwards.

Umpires: Messrs J. Warbrick (New Zealand), and J. L. Ward (Middlesex County). Referee: Mr G. Rowland Hill (hon. sec. Rugby Football Union).

“Of the seven matches played, four have been won, and three lost. The New Zealanders have scored nine goals and eight tries against five goals and six tries obtained by their opponents.”

After the Middlesex drubbing, we returned to London and went to Hull.”

From “RUGBY FOOTBALL AND THE TOUR OF THE NATIVE TEAM”, compiled by T Eyton. Published 1896. P. 19-22.

“So far the team had won three and lost three with the prospect still awaiting them of some very difficult matches in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Yet their performance in the next match, against Middlesex County at Sheffield Park on 22 October, must have caused Eyton and Scott grave concern.

The Earl of Sheffield was a noted sporting enthusiast who had done much for Sussex cricket and had hosted matches against the Australian touring teams of 1884 and 1886. Therefore, although Middlesex was not on the original fixture list, the Native team gladly accepted such a significant invitation. It was originally intended that Rowland Hill would arrange a scratch team for a festival match, and that was the impression held by the Native team when they reached Sheffield Park. However, the organization of the home team quickly passed to the Middlesex Union which raised a county side including several England, Scottish and Welsh internationals. Entrance to the match was by invitation only and the spectators included many notable social and political figures.

The task facing the Native team was now formidable, and it was made even more so by events before the match. Two hours before the start of play both teams were treated to a full luncheon, including wine. The result, for players unaccustomed to such luxury, was fairly predictable. As the correspondent for the Lyttelton Times put it:

English footballers are accustomed to smart lunches on special occasions before the game commences, and take good care to be strictly abstemious. To the Maoris, however, the departure was a new one and it cannot be denied that they innocently made the most of the many good things that Lord Sheffield’s genuine hospitality provided.

When both teams were later assembled for a photograph, it was found that two members of the Native team were missing. They were soon located sleeping in a shrubbery.

Once on the field, the play of the touring team was, in Eyton’s words, “void of combination, though individuals played well”. In spite of a promising start they were quickly on the defensive and conceded three easy tries during the first half, mainly as a result of poor tackling. The second half was marked by brilliant solo efforts from Madigan and Elliot, but neither scored. Middlesex added a try and a dropped goal to their total, eventually winning 9-0. Against their strongest opposition and the most prominent audience of the tour, the Native team had done nothing to enhance their reputation.”

From “Forerunners of the All Blacks” by Greg Ryan. Published 1993 by Canterbury University Press. P. 47-48.

Davy Gage - one of the team's stars