SEVEN YEARS after the part-one Bath history Before the Lemons, we have the glory years, embracing a ten-year period when this remarkable small- city club – rugby’s version of Clough’s Nottingham Forest – won 13 out of 18 trophies.
How did it happen? Jack Rowell’s arrival in the mid-70s was instrumental, but when you have talent like John Hall and Jeremy Guscott on your doorstep, it sure does help.
The authors assiduously record the evolution of a champion side, with the arrival of men like Bristol ruffian Gareth Chilcott and 40-a-day ex-paratrooper Roger Spurrell enabling Bath’s pack to start winning cross-border scraps in Wales. Outside them, John Horton, John Palmer and Simon Halliday paved the way for a host of stars in the making.
For a while Bath were unbeatable, so much so that some in the game hated them and rival players disparaged them. “It’s tragic that our leading club doesn’t play more adventurous rugby,” said
Will Carling. National squads didn’t always reflect Bath’s supremacy, with only Chilcott and Andy Robinson making the initial 1989 Lions squad in a year when the club won the first of several doubles.
Yet at times Bath’s rugby was breathtaking, and they destroyed not just club teams but provincial and national teams, for the club had broad horizons. They thought globally but bonded like a family, as shown by the tale of how Rowell refused to let one player, Bert Meddick, cry off because of babysitting duties. “Bring the boy with you,” said Rowell, and baby Meddick duly joined the team bus for a game at Harlequins, being fed and changed on the way!
RW RATING 4/5
BUY AT: afterthelemons.co.uk RRP: £14.99 PUBLISHED BY: Montroy Media
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This article appeared in the April 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine
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