J.Collighan Letters

From:    J. Collighan 1949-1955
Subject: Memorabilia

Hi Webmaster,

My name is John Collighan (Jack I was and am always called) and live in the province of Ávila (Spain). I attended the Collegiate from 1949 until 1955. I have written to you from the OBA's web site but, until now, to no avail, I have not received any reply so must assume my messages are not getting through for whatever reason. I have therefore taken your e-mail addresses from the web site and am trying to contact you direct from my own computer.

I would like to send you some memorabilia (photos, school play programme, etc.) and also perhaps write some sort of article for you.

So, please acknowledge receipt and let me know if you would like the memorabilia.

By the way, is the Chairman, Joe Lucas, the Joe Lucas with whom I played rugby? I was school rugby captain and a contemporary of the then school football captain, the late Brian Labone,


Jack Collighan

Hi Jack,  (or should it be Juan?)

Thank you for your letter. First, We must apologise for our tardiness in replying – Sorry!

We are always pleased to hear from overseas members. Even though there is little chance of (say) meeting them at our Annual Dinner. We only hope that our Newsletter gives you some sense of still being in touch with your past.

We are pleased to see that you are (finally) getting through to us. It is strange that you seem to have had a problem. Can you identify what the problem was? How did you overcome it? We would like to feel that other members can use your experience to clarify how they can avoid such problems.

Memorabilia (photos, school play programme, etc.) are always welcome to us and your suggestion of writing some sort of article is “music to our ears”. We will probably be “badgering” you to come up with a Topic.

Our Chairman, Joe Lucas, is the Joe Lucas who you played rugby with. While we have been so slow in dealing with your letter, you have emailed photos, many of which include Joe in the teams & rugby action shown. Joe is our “Lord High Poo-Bar” as far as rugby matters is concerned.

We are sure that your reference to the school football captain, the late Brian Labone, will evoke response from other members. We are sure that Li Ross would love to still be able to invite Brian to one of his annual “Sportsman’s Dinners".

We are pursuing your offer of Memorabilia. When a decision has been taken, as to how to handle it, you will be the first to know.

Thank you (again)


Second Letter from John

From:    J. Collighan 1949-1955
Subject: Memories (Mainly Rugby)

Hi y'all.

Here's an extract from my forthcoming, million selling autobiography. If anyone can find me a publisher (who must not be an Evertonian :-) ), he'll be on 5% of the ill gotten gains!!!

Whilst in the Collegiate, I joined the Air Training Corps (ATC), mainly to get out of maths class on Friday afternoon, the last period. I remember learning the Morse code about 10 minutes before a certain exam, passing and then immediately forgetting it, and it never came back. Another reason for joining the ATC was to play rugby in representative matches.

We went down to RAF Detling (Surrey?) in the south, to play between Xmas and New Year. I, along with another 3 or 4 from our school, had been picked to play for the ATC North West in this Under 19 tournament and I had just turned 15, so it must have been 1952. I was a fly half by the way and my skill, apart from ball handling, dummying and tactical kicking was to be very quick off the mark. This attribute leads to a fly half being able to make a quick break and, if he is well backed up by his (supposedly) faster centres and wingers, a try is always in the offing. I played against the South-West and the North-East and in the former match, apparently gave the run-around to the current England fly-half from Somerset. To be honest, I was scared to death most of the time because U19s looked like giants to me although I was taller than average for my age at that time. The RAF Detling billeting was the usual in those days. A huge barrack room with a coal fired stove somewhere in the middle and a smoke pipe going up and out through the roof. Bloody freezing it was too.

Anyway, our officer in charge, a Mr. Wilde, who was a maths or physics teacher back home at the Collegiate, took me aside and asked me if I would like to be considered for the fly half spot against the Welsh ATC U19s at Cardiff Arms Park on 1 January. I shat and had no hesitation in turning down the possibility of playing for England ATC U19s at CAP on New Years Day, first, because I genuinely thought I was too young and said I would certainly consider it for the following year (and I was inwardly scared to death of what looked like huge people to me) but I also had a New Years Eve party I had been invited to and there would be GIRLS there. Yes, sex was starting to raise its head or something. Whilst on the subject of rugby, I also played for the Liverpool Grammar School team against Birkenhead Grammar Schools. Our fly half in that game was one J. Colford of St. Edwards and I was placed in the full back position where I had never played before. I think we lost by 6-0, the second try being scored by a Birkenhead School (Institute?) fly half who was brilliant, in the Colford mould, and sold me a beautiful dummy for their second try. I was also picked to play against Manchester Grammar Schools (both games were at U18 level), but the latter was called off for bad weather. The Liverpool Rugby Football Club whose ground was then in Aigburth and was called St. Michael's, where Lancashire cricket team played a couple of games a season, held trials at different age levels and I was picked to play together with my scrum half, a Wade Deacon lad called Selly, against, I think, Waterloo, then one of the leading NW clubs, but, again, the match was called off because of bad weather.

Another interesting story was that at that time, one of the lads had contacts in Rugby League and persuaded us to enter a Rugby League 7 a-side tournament that Liverpool City (formerly Stanley) held up at their Knowsley ground. We entered under the name of West Derby. At that time, had we been found out, we could have been suspended for life from playing Rugby Union again. Anyway, never having played Rugby League before, we reached and won the final, with yours truly scoring the winning try in the dying moments. To my horror, the Liverpool Football Echo reported the match that night with the more or less stop press text (on the front page) saying “J. Collighan scored the winning try in the 18th minute”. My knees were knocking at school on the Monday after as I was sure someone would have spotted the report and I would be for the high jump. Luckily it seemed that no-one at the Collegiate read the Liverpool Football Echo, last edition anyway.

Cheers John

Hi John

I am prompted to write :-

"Este mensaje no contiene virus ni malware porque la protección de avast! Antivirus está activa.",

but, even after two years of Spanish (with 'Horace' Bamber) I don't know what it means :-)

Seriously, John, we are still pondering over the pictures that you sent (previously) - it is looking as though we should add a section to our "Sport" page for images that have been contributed by our correspondents.

Cheers - Webmaster