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Keith Richardson Column: Modest Peter Meadows always had Kingsholm at heart

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

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THERE is an old saying that 'things can only get better', and when there was a half-time announcement in the Bath game last week we were fervently hoping for some good news to offset what was looking ominously like a bad day at the office.

The 'good' did not materialise in the game and it was even worse with the news that Peter Meadows had died.

This would register little with the average supporter because things move on and the new crowd are very different from 'old' Gloucester.

When Pete started playing for the club around 1954 he would have been known to just about everybody at Kingsholm, be they players, committee, spectators, tea ladies, turnstile attendants or barmen. It was that sort of club.

He would have been held in high esteem at Old Cryptians, which was his local club, when there was a passion among the local sides if one of theirs made it to the Cherry and Whites.

Not that Pete could have been at Old Cryptians that long, because he came to first-class rugby at the age of 15 or 16 and you have to pinch yourself to make sure that such a statistic is possible.

Most people of that age now will be dreaming of a place in an Academy as they fiddle with the latest app on their mobile, but in 1954 a career was starting for a young man who was the epitome of what the club was all about: if you are good enough, you are old enough!

He played about 150 first team games and captained the United. Unfortunately for Pete, he was an accomplished performer anywhere in the backs as well as being a very able winger.

He did play for Gloucestershire many times when the County Championship and selection for it was a big event, but his all-round ability made him the perfect reserve when there was no such thing as replacements.

As a reserve you did not wish ill on anybody, but once there had been no accidents up to kick-off time, you had it.

Not many players could boast of three tries against Newport when the Welsh side were a genuine force and, such was Pete's modesty, he would have been the last person on earth to refer to the feat.

He was the type of man you would have to pull teeth from to say anything about himself, but was quick to praise others.

I knew him as a player for only a short time, but I can see him now in the corner of the changing room, wrapped in a towel and enjoying a fag. He did not say a lot but he was worth listening to.

He was in the fruit and veg trade in Gloucester for many years and, though the possessor of what appeared to be the perfect temperament, he could go totally ballistic if anything really riled him.

Yet a few minutes later he would be calmness and serenity personified.

There is always a story in most players and Mickey Booth will have had this one related back to him on many occasions.

The team was on the way back from an away match and only two players managed to get any sleep. Pete was in the front seat and Mickey Booth had commandeered the luxury end of the rear with the longest sleeping area.

Unfortunately, Pete was prone to a bit of sleepwalking and took off for the back while the rest of the squad in the middle of the bus gave knowing winks – but all in silence.

He got from his front seat to the rear then back to the front without the vaguest hint of ever waking up. But all was not well when the rear sleeper came back to life and suggested in no uncertain manner to the bus driver that the roof must have been leaking!

Any sport would be the richer for people like Peter Meadows – able, modest and always looking for the best in the players around him.

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