To mark National Sporting Heritage Day 2021, David Windebank, Gloucestershire’s County Captain from 1977 and 1978 takes us back to the year 1978 and the team made up of seven County Captains.
So, who's who and where are they now?
From the photo taken at Saunton Golf Club 1978.
Top row left to right:
Simon Butler. County Captain 1997 and 1998
Played County first team golf throughout the 70s.
Playing against Somerset at Minehead, Simon was dawn in the singles against a player, who shall be nameless, but was known for his gamesmanship.
At the team meeting the evening before it was stated that this Somerset player always played the same make and number of golf ball. So, Simon purchased the same make and number of ball himself and with the honour on the first tee the next day announced he was going to play with this ball.
His opponent huffed and had to scurry off to the pro shop to buy another ball. Simon won his game and we won the match.
Simon became Captain of Lansdown Golf Club. His son Ed was a very fine player and also played for Gloucestershire. Sadly, Simon plays little or no golf these days.
Rodney Tugwell. County Captain 2001 and 2002.
Another who took on the Captain's duties after his first team days were over.
Involved with Junior County golf and coaching from 1996 until 2010.
A loyal member of Knowle Golf Club, competing in the first 50 playings of The Knowle Gold Medal. Winning it once.
Will long be remembered for his partnership with David Strange (County Captain 1975 & 1976) winning the County Foursomes together in 1974.
Irish Youths Champion. Won the County Championship and the County Foursomes in 1976. An English international reserve in that same year.
Won The Duchess Salver in 1975.
Now gravitated back to his native Ireland. A senior golfer who plays off a very useful 5 handicap.
Likes to renew his memories with long gone County days and he and I meet for a game at Saunton and Royal North Devon most years.
Scott Davidson. County Captain 1985 and 1986.
Won The Kenyan Amateur Championship.
Duchess Salver winner 1976 and The County Foursomes in 1987.
Turned pro at the age of 50 to play seniors golf. Last I heard of him he was picking up money as a Super Senior, but thankfully still has the day job!
Chris Mitchell. County Captain 1983 and 1984.
English International 1975 to 1978.
Won the County Foursomes, the Duchess Salver and The County Championship twice.
Known for his magical short game. His wedge was seldom out of his hand. Rumour has it that that’s the same today.
Still plays regularly in social events off a low handicap.
David Carroll. County Captain 1973 and 1974.
Played County Golf at the top end of the team for well over a decade.
Won the County Championship twice and the County Foursomes six times.
Had a total fear of heights and playing in the English County Finals at Brancepeth Castle in 1975, a course that's full of ditches and bridges, we had to station supporters around the course to lead him across the bridges because he couldn't open his eyes.
Suffered ill health in later life and sadly passed away a number of years ago.
Front row left to right:
Gordon Brand Jnr.
Scottish International. Won The Brabazon in 1978, the Duchess Salver and County Championship in 1977. Played in the 1979 Walker Cup and after turning pro won eight European tour events and later won twice on the European Senior Tour. He played in the 1987 and 89 Ryder Cups.
The 1987 Ryder Cup was played at Muirfield Village, Ohio. The Europeans under the Captaincy of Tony Jacklin beat The Americans under Jack Nicklaus by 15 points to 13.
The 1989 Ryder Cup played at The Belfry finished in a tie at 14 points each so Europe retained the cup.
Gordon was always happy to give advice and coaching to our County juniors.
Passed away suddenly in 2019 at the age of 60.
David Windebank. County Captain 1977 & 1978. Yours truly.
Surrounded by this group of talented golfers with whom I had the pleasure and privilege of playing.
Brandy, as he was called, was the only one to play full time golf. All the others had full time jobs outside of golf. As was the norm in those days.
Together in my two years as County Captain, we won the South West Counties Match Play Shield twice, the Channel League once and qualified for The English Counties Finals twice.
To me the biggest disappointment of my two years was that the closest we got to winning the EGU Finals was runners up in 1977. Losing to Warwickshire in the final.
In 1978 we lost to Kent in the semi-finals.
The brightest statistic regarding the EGU Finals is that we did win the trophy the following year at Formby under the Captaincy of my successor Richard Abbott.
1979 is the last time that Gloucestershire won this most prized of county team events.
Richard Law. County President. Westonbirt Golf Club.
Richard, a North Gloucestershire farmer was a member of Cirencester G.C. but insisted that his first club was the nine-hole course at Westonbirt.
He arranged an evening friendly at Westonbirt and organised for the sixth form girls from Westonbirt Collage to caddy for the team.
A very popular event, sadly never to be repeated!
Richard Abbott. County Captain 1979 and 1980.
Everyone liked Dicky Abbott. The most gentle and easy going of men as he whistled his way along the fairways. Ask him what ball he liked to play “whatever I find” he'd say and he meant it. The County didn't supply balls in those days!
Perhaps the best player never to have obtained international status. He was England’s first reserve in 1976 when the Home Internationals were played at Muirfield.
In 1996 I had the pleasure of a few days in Scotland with Dick and when we played Muirfield together he told me the full story of how he became an International golfer for half an hour.
The evening before the Home Internationals in 1976 Dick was at home first reserve, but not expected to travel. The phone rings and the English captain tells him that one of the team is ill and Dick is to pack his bag and get himself up to Scotland.
Dick had achieved a life’s ambition and is now an international golfer.
Half an hour later the phone goes again and The Captain says “Sorry Dick the player insists he is fit enough to play and you don't get to travel”.
Dick and I were the best of friends, but it was not until 20 years later when enjoying a drink together in the Clubhouse at Muirfield that he told me this moving story.
Dick won The County Colts Championship, The Duchess Salver in 1974 and the County Foursomes three times, but never the County Championship itself. This is perhaps a testament to the standard of golf in that era.
Sadly, Dick passed away in 2005 at the age of 57.
English International 1980-82.
Played in the 1983 Walker Cup.
Captained England 1998-2001.
Won The Silver Medal as leading amateur in The Troon Open in 1982.
Amongst many other titles won the County Championship in 1980 and The Duchess Salver in 1979-80 and 82.
The story has it that when playing in The Open at Troon Malcolm hit his ball on one hole into the crowd and it came to rest near a line of supporters queuing for a sandwich. As he searched for his ball, he was politely told to get to the back of the queue!
Malcolm still plays to a high level and has represented Gloucestershire Seniors in recent years.
Well that was my team of County players in 1978. All were dedicated to Gloucestershire. They gave of their all each and every one. I thank them for their loyalty, their friendship and a lifetime of happy memories.