It is with great regret that the Club learned that John Mallinson passed away on Thursday 27th December.
John was a past 1st XV Captain (1956 to 1958), past President (1975 to 1979), and a Life Member of our Club. Few in the long history of our Club have contributed so much and John will be sorely missed by all at Ealing.
John's influence and work at County level was also legendary and he was one of a select few to be awarded Life Vice Presidency of Middlesex County Rugby Football Union, a tremendous honour reflecting the tireless efforts John made to promote the game of Rugby Football we all love so much.
Details of John's funeral service will be passed on as soon as they are available.
All at Ealing pass on our deepest condolences to Jill and family.
I was honoured when Gil asked me to say a few words today about John’s involvement with rugby football. As someone said to me when they heard the news of his passing: “We have lost Mr. Ealing”.
But it is not just his beloved Ealing Football Club - our beloved Ealing Football Club - that he served. He made a huge contribution to county rugby within Middlesex as well. So to do justice to his talents and efforts in the time available is a real challenge. I shall pick out some characteristics which seem significant from my own experience of him.
- He was a One Club Man
He died at the end of a year in which London, and the Nation, had a summer of sport, and England beat the All Blacks, but I am confident that the sporting statistic which would have given John most pleasure was Ealing ending December top of the table in National League 1.
Politicians liked to talk this year about the contribution of volunteer Gamesmakers to the Big Society. For an exemplar they could have taken John.
His motivation, after his playing days were done, was to sustain the club so it would provide playing facilities for future generations to enjoy the game he loved. And he devoted himself to Middlesex with the same commitment.
- He was a Perfectionist
John was 1st XV captain at Ealing between 1956 and 1958, and I joined the club in the centenary season of 1970/71. So our playing careers did not overlap but I did play in his retirement game in the mid Seventies. When I turned up I was amazed to see John trim and neatly turned out in a new tracksuit and boots. He had been training and was ready once more to be the elegant second row leaping like a salmon in the line-out. Of course, there was no lifting then, or, at least, not legally.
Others might have turned up for their last game wearing scruffy old kit recovered from the garden shed, but not John.
- He Had Vision
In my experience, the capacity to think strategically and master detail is rarely present in the same person. John was an exception. We all know his neat handwritten schedules and closely argued memoranda. But he also saw where the game was going and what Ealing needed to do to keep up. As President of Ealing between 1975 and 1979, and then as Chairman of the Development Committee, he led the planning and fund raising for major developments including a gymnasium, pitch drainage and floodlights, which laid the foundation for Ealing’s first foray in the National Leagues.
In Middlesex, an organisation with a governance structure then only slightly less complicated than the Byzantine Empire, he provided sound guidance and energetic direction on a number of committees and charitable trusts.
- He Had Persistence and Focus
If John wanted someone to do a job he was more persistent than the Mounties, who allegedly always get their man. I remember, in the early Seventies, when I was studying for my Solicitors’ Finals part time while working, and I decided I could not accept an administrative role at the club the following season, I told John: “Look, I only have a limited amount of time for rugby, and I can either play or be an administrator”. His response was: “You had better give up playing then, because you are more valuable to the club as an administrator”. Naturally, I carried on playing but I respected his focus.
He could also be artful in the cause of Middlesex as many here today can surely testify. In the early Nineties I was coaching Minis at London Welsh and John sat down next to me in the grandstand at an Ealing away game and said the Middlesex Youth Trust needed a new Trustee to act as Trust Correspondent, and it would be useful to have someone actively involved in youth rugby. Of course, what he meant was someone was needed to minute interminable meetings in smoke filled rooms - with John around they really were - and handle employment issues for our four full time and three part time Youth Development Officers etc. . But he had his way and I am still a Middlesex trustee 20 years later.
- He Has a Legacy
The motto of Ealing is “Respice prospice” - look forward; look back. I am very pleased that John lived to see Ealing, with the backing of our generous and supportive sponsors, Trailfinders, playing (and often beating) clubs with such a history as Blackheath, Coventry, Fylde, London Scottish, Richmond and Rosslyn Park, several of which Ealing last played before the First World War. He will have been particularly pleased to see Rosslyn Park being coached by Jan Bonney, one of our Youth Development Officers in the Middlesex Youth Trust. But his legacy stretches far beyond that with Ealing having a widely admired youth structure, and an outstanding record for developing coaches and referees.
When Sir Isaac Newton was asked how he made his discoveries in the field of gravity, he responded: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Subsequent committees at Ealing have been standing on John’s shoulders.
- He Loved the Game and had a Gift for Friendship
Sadly today having a passion for sport is something which is apparently satisfied by flicking the TV remote between the channels. Love is a slower burning and longer lasting flame. John had that for our game and his many friends are saddened that his increasing deafness and ill health in recent years prevented him enjoying rugby as a spectator as much as he would have liked.
It is also sad that the deafness inhibited him from seeking to serve as President of Middlesex, an office he would have held with distinction.
- He was Honoured
Uniquely, John was elected a Life Member of Ealing and a Life Vice President of Middlesex. Those are distinctions awarded to only a handful of people, and I am delighted that Middlesex has also decided to remember him by instituting the Mallinson Cup to be awarded to the winner of the Minis Development Festival each year.
John was not a person who sought such things. He would be pleased to have been characterised simply as a servant of the game.
So, to use the words of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew: 25; 21): “Well done thou good and faithful servant”.
Rhidian Jones, Wednesday 16 January 2013
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