We really look forward to this project when it reaches completion. It is things like this that remind us that this club has meant a whole lot to whole lot of people over the last over 133 years. We are all just a moment along this time line, and are privileged to be part of it.
19680111 Thursday Lisbon then Madrid: The early-morning departure to Spain by Trans World 900, our only Yankee Kite on Tour, was for just a short hop; hardly time to adjust your safety-belt. I warned all members of the possibility of us being “stranded” here in Madrid as I had not, in the whole 4 years of my correspondence, received any replies from my contacts here in this country. “Be prepared to spend 2 days and nights on the tarmac”, I said; “We’ll probably be on our own.” How wrong could one be? And I’ve never been happier in being wrong, as I was upon arrival. Barajas Airport officials everywhere plus TV reporters, the Press and guides – just for us. What an experience; never anything like this; what have we done to deserve it; a real royal welcome. Florencio Noriega, the President, had arranged everything. “We have buses waiting to take you to the Atlántico Hotel; Jane-of-Spain is your guide; you’ll be taken care of by the hotel; and we shall call on you at lunch to make further arrangements”, says Florencio.
The bus took us to our very old, but very nice hotel; we handed in our passports – I am not too sure if I like that; and we are given keys – 2 to a room. I remember seeing that all were accommodated, to find myself left out! The room for me wasn’t yet ready: “come back later and I’ll attend to you”. “Jane” had her bus ready for a sightseeing trip and nearly all of the Party accepted. To the Bull Ring first stop. At the 2:00pm luncheon at the hotel, which was a slow, drawn-out affair covering many courses, quite a change from Portugal, the boys gave their reports on their experiences so far; and so far, so good. The TV and Press conference in the lounge was about to get underway; we decided on who were to be interviewed; and that we would answer the questions in turn – in other words we had our little rehearsal. I asked Allan Garrick, Graeme McClymont, Tommy Cusbert and Freddie Nelson to join Eddie and me; but Freddie declined. The eight reporters plus the interpreter asked us such questions as “how many play rugby in Australia?” [2 million says Eddie; struth says I]. We got away with that until they then asked the population of Australia – “9 million” said Allan Garrick. The silent reporters quickly worked out that 1 in every 4 play rugby, including men, women and children. I then said “a correction please, Sir; we meant to say about a quarter of a million play rugby – we misunderstood your question.” “How old is this Petersham Club?” Allan Garrick said “well, it’s 50 years old; but actually it’s older” [“whatever that means”, thinks McLean]. I saw we were heading for trouble here, so I then asked “who won the Davis Cup?” I had just seen in the papers that Spain was beaten by Australia 4 to 1; so I thought it was a safe question. But even this boomeranged as the sports reporters told me that tennis is only for the rich in Spain. We weren’t doing too well at this interview, as we hadn’t spent enough time on our homework. I don’t think we impressed much!
At the request of The President and other rugby officials, Eddie, Reg, Allan and Graham called on the Australian Ambassador to Spain, to pay our respects, and were well received.
We did more sightseeing and as we wanted to put on a good performance the next day, we said “early night”, forgetting to allow for the late meal hours and the large number of courses, plus the “slow way of life”. The 9:00pm Tea finished at around11:00pm, so we were lucky if we managed to get into bed before midnight. We received much cooperation from the R.U. officials: they had a doctor come around to the hotel to examine Ross Adams, Malcolm Ward, Paul Lyons, Peter McPherson, and even Morrie Schultz and Paul Hanley. He [the doctor] rejected the lot! And did so in his language, which meant I didn’t know if the boys were available for selection or not. However I finally got the message through; and then checked on the others. I went around every room to find two in bed in each room – good boys, says I, little knowing that Eddie was not in the hotel but the boys had covered for him. Such team work! Ross Adams had the experience of having to go to a foreign hospital in the morning for X-rays, not speaking the lingo, nor knowing where to go. Ross tells a good story of going to the Maternity Ward; and of being accepted!