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Albion and Somerset County RFU mourn the passing of EJ (John) Garland – A true Rugby Football Stalwart

| 10/06/2014 | Reply


UPDATED: 13/6/14 09:46 – John’s funeral will take place at Nether Stowey Church on Wednesday 18 June, 12 midday. Afterwards, everyone is invited back to the Bridgwater & Albion Club.

Members of both Bridgwater & Albion Rugby Football Club and Somerset County Rugby Football Union will be saddened to have learned of the death of a great rugby stalwart John Garland in the last few days.  John had been connected with the Bridgwater club since 1948 when moving to the area from Monmouthshire to take up his career-long post as the local National Farmers Union Secretary/agent.  John joined Albion initially as a player but soon became involved in the administration of the club with some sweeping effect.  He also soon linked with Somerset County and served both club and county in numerous roles for many years. 

John’s contact with the farming community and with business life in general enabled the club to attract many players and benefactors and his wide-ranging knowledge of the game also brought some testing and challenging opponents to the Broadway Ground in particular.  He served the club in many capacities as secretary, fixtures secretary, chairman and fittingly he was appointed President for the club’s centenary season in 1975/76 and extended that role until 1978.  He was a Trustee of the club for many years and was a life member.  He was instrumental in establishing the then new clubhouse at the Broadway Ground in 1963 and for Bridgwater to pioneer floodlit football – the first club south of Bristol to do so a year later.  He with others used their contacts to secure top class opposition for Albion to use their floodlights and to improve their game. 

John also served Somerset in many capacities, particularly being secretary between 1966 and 1975 and was President between 1975 and 1977 at the same time as he held the club presidency.  He also went on to serve on the South Western Division of the Rugby Football Union where one of his tasks was to arrange the staging of representative matches against international visitors.  He was also a life member of the County Union. 

Even since his retirement from his work and from rugby football administration generally, John has kept in constant touch with the club and it is only in recent seasons that he has been unable to visit on a regular basis. 

For many years John lived in the Nether Stowey/Over Stowey area but following the death of his wife a few years ago, moved into a retirement home in Bridgwater from which he could be seen around town on his mobility scooter.  He is survived by his son Robert who followed him into the NFU network and daughter Jan. 

Albion Club President Mike Berry who had known John for almost 50 years paid tribute – “John Garland was certainly a stalwart of the game both on the club and county scene throughout the West Country and in the game generally he was acknowledged as an efficient and very wise administrator.  He had both the club and county fortunes at heart and strove tirelessly to promote the game.  I have served with him in various capacities in club terms and have also followed in his footsteps as far as Somerset County is concerned.  His wide contact net brought considerable benefit to the club and even in recent times has kept an eye on the club’s activities and has always been able to offer very wise counsel to steer the club through some difficult moments.  He has spent a life-time with the game and his involvement and experience have been invaluable to others following on behind.  He will be sadly missed.”

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Category: Club News

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