In 125 years a club like Hamiltons has had many personalities amongst its players and administrators at various levels. What follows is a selection from the past, some of whom may be unknown or forgotten.
Willie Philip (born: Port Elizabeth, 7 October 1850; deceased: Port Elizabeth, 16 August 1922)
William Yalden Thomson Philip was the first Hamiltons captain, way back in 1875. He was a partner in the firm Philip Bros, a general merchant, which was sold in 1897, and then of W Yalden Philip & Son.
His father was the son of John Ross Philip, the fourth child of the Rev. Dr John Philip of the London Missionary Society, who arrived in South Africa on 26 February 1819 and did much to establish rights for the indigenous populations of the Cape, to the annoyance of many who found him a troublesome priest. The town of Philippolis is named after him.
Willie Philip was one of eight children. His brother, WA Philip, was an active Villagers member. Willie Philip was also a keen cricketer and oarsman. Willie Philip’s grandsons, Barry Yalden Philip and Graham Yalden Philip, played for the Club. Barry was in the 1st XV from 1954 to 1960.
Billy Simkins (born: London, 16 January 1857; deceased: Civil Service Club, Cape Town, 3 October 1919)
William Valencie (also Vallancey) Simkins was one of South Africa’s greatest and most popular sporting administrators. He arrived in Cape Town in 1876 and joined Hamiltons, captaining the Club in 1881 and 1882. He was the Club’s representative on the Union board from 1883 to 1887 and its president from 1889 to his death in the Civil Service Club, whose property had once incorporated the Rev. John Philip’s church. He was vice-president of the WPRFU in 1888 and president from 1889 to 1913, the Union’s second president.
He, together with Joey Milton of Villagers, was largely instrumental in persuading the adoption of Rugby Rules at the Cape to replace Gog’s Game. He was the referee in the second match at South Africa’s first provincial rugby tournament in Kimberley in 1889 when Griquas beat Transvaal 4-3.
In 1890 he became the second president of the South African Rugby Football Board, a position he held until 1913. From then until 1956 the position would be a Hamiltons-Villagers preserve for the president after Simkins was a Villagers man, followed by two Hamiltons men, followed by another Villagers man, followed by Dr Danie Craven.
Billy Simkins was the WP Rugby Football Union’s second president – from 1889 to 1905. He was also a founder member of Cape Town Cricket Club, president of the WP Cricket Union and a keen member of the Alfred’s Rowing Club when rowing was a big sport at the Cape.
In the midst of all his sporting commitments he had time to father six children.
Jack Heyneman (born: Cape Town, 7 September 1861; deceased: Weltevreden, Jamieson Ave, Cape Town on 28 September 1927)
Jan Godlieb Brink Heyneman was probably the first man to charge gate money to watch a rugby match and he, a legal man, did it illegally. He roped off a part of Green Point Common, got some soldiers from The Castle and charged people entry to watch rugby. Challenged by another legal man, Christoffel Brand, Heyneman invited him through the gate, but told him not to mention it.
Being a bachelor, he was much involved in sport – rugby, cricket, rowing, boxing, hockey and horse racing. He was associated with the SA Rugby Football Board from its inception and became its president in 1913 till his sudden death in 1927.
Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson, OBE (born: Cape Town, 3 August 1861; deceased: Johannesburg, 1948)
Sir Charles Llewellyn Andersson played for Hamiltons and, in 1885, for Cape Town after travelling in the north parts of South Africa on all sorts of expeditions, including the erection of a telegraph line in Natal. When gold was discovered on the Reef, he headed for Johannesburg where he became the secretary of the Wanderers Club in 1887 when it was founded. He was instructed to obtain maroon rugby jerseys for the Club. He wrote off to his friend Billy Simkins and the jerseys which arrived were the gold, scarlet and black of Hamiltons, the Wanderers’ colours to this day. In his day he was the South African mile champion, with a time of 4 mins 46 secs.
Douglas de Fenzi
Charles William Perks Douglas de Fenzi was the first secretary of the WPRFU, succeeded when he left for Natal, by Fairy Heatlie. (Interestingly, Fairy Heatlie became an honorary member of Hamiltons in 1951, the year of his death.) They were both active players at the time that they were secretaries.
Douglas de Fenzi had a great deal of say in rugby football, in the Western Province, Natal and the SA Rugby Football Boards. In the Western Province, he was associated with a club called Woodstock and with Hamiltons, whose captain he was, notably in 1883 when Hamiltons won the Grand Challenge. He was also captain of a team called Cape Town, which was in effect a Western Province team, in 1884 and 1885.
Later he moved to Natal as the secretary of the Natal Legislative Council and played a leading role in getting rugby established in that colony. Then in 1889 he was one of those instrumental in forming the South African Rugby Football Board in Kimberley. He played for Natal and refereed a match between Pietermaritzburg and the overseas tourists in 1891. In 1894 he returned to Cape Town. He died in Natal in 1927.
John Cowan Haswell was the honorary secretary of Hamiltons from 1906 to 1915 and again from 1920 to 1927 when he became the first paid secretary and treasurer of the WPRFU. It was said of him: “Jock and Hamiltons are synonymous terms.” A crowded dinner was given in his honour in the Opera House dining-room on his retirement as secretary of the Club. A purse of gold and a gold watch were presented to him.
He was born in Scotland, married in Liverpool and died at his home in Newlands on 30 May 1932, aged 57 years and 6 months. He was succeeded by Piet van Schaik, an honorary vice-president of Hamiltons.
Brand van Zyl (born: Cape Town, 3 June 1873; deceased: Cape Town, 1 November 1956)
Always referred to in the Club minutes as Maj. GB van Zyl, Gideon Brand van Zyl played for Hamiltons and was the Club’s chairman. He was an attorney and more importantly a politician. In 1915 he became a member of the Cape Provincial Council, representing the Cape Town Harbour constituency. In 1918 he became a Unionist Party member of parliament. Subsequently he became a member of the South African Party and eventually of the United Party. In 1929 he was the unopposed member of parliament for Sea Point, which he remained until 2 October 1942, after which he became Administrator of the Cape Province. He was then the patron of WPRFU.
In 1945 he became the first South African born Governor General of South Africa and a member of the Privy Council. In 1948 the University of Cape Town awarded him an honorary doctorate in law. Brand van Zyl was many things – a founder member of the Milnerton Turf Club and on the committees of Kirstenbosch and the WP Agricultural Society. In 1949 he presented the Club with a club flag. Oddly enough, he was not a life member of the Club.
Sport Pienaar (born: Aliwal North, 1884; deceased: Cape Town, 12 October 1953)
Autocratic Andries Jacobus Pienaar, known as Sport, was one of South Africa’s great sports administrators. He was president of the SA Rugby Football Board from 1927 until his death in 1953. He was also president the SA Cricket Union from 1947 to 1948. He was an ardent amateur.
Henry John Charles Stephan was a City Councillor from 4 September 1916 to 3 September 1951, and he was Mayor of Cape Town from 10 September 1931 to 7 September 1933. He pressed for the move from The Track to the Club’s present position at the ground which bears his name. In 1924 he was the chairman of the committee which organised the Rugby Ball in the City Hall.
After World War II, Colonel HJC Stephan was the Club president. There were also municipal elections that year and he arrived at a committee meeting in the Fresnaye Sports Club and asked members of the committee to canvas for him. Some did. When Jack Frost stood for the Cape Town City Council in 1984, he also received Hamiltons’ help.
Stephie Stephan made his house available for a mid-season dance. His house was Mouille Grange, where the Metropolitan Golf clubhouse is situated. When Hamiltons moved from The Track, there was a suggestion that Stephan’s house become the clubhouse. He was elected a life member in 1953. He died on 11 December 1970.
JD de Villiers (born: 17 May 1887; deceased: Rosebank, Cape Town, 6 March 1965)
JD de Villiers was a member of Hamiltons, playing for and coaching at the Club. In 1922 he was first elected to the Club’s committee. In 1924 he was the South African manager of the Lions’ touring team and in 1925 became chairman of the SA Referees Association. He proposed that the laws of the game be translated into Afrikaans.
He was president of the WPRFU from 1939, through the difficult war years, until 1954 when much reconstruction was taking place at Newlands and the Union suffered severe financial constraints. Other Hamiltons men actively involved in the building programme were John Appleton and Frank Moore. In 1954 he left the Union and did not return to Newlands. He was succeeded by Piet Bayly, also of Hamiltons.
His full names were Johan David de Villiers, but he was always known as JD. He was the Provincial Secretary and acting Administrator of the Cape in 1945.
Fred Burmeister, brother of Arthur, father of Ralph, was a member of Hamiltons from his school days and captained the 1st XV. He was chairman of the Club and later a vice-president. He originated the Annual Golf Day.
When a referee complained to Fred Burmeister that members of the Under 19A team had used bad language, talked on the field and queried his decisions, each member of the team was written to and summoned to attend a meeting at The Track on the following Friday at 8 pm. Failure to attend would jeopardise selection. The secretary was asked to advertise the meeting in the press and to put a notice on the Club notice-board advising members of the meeting. One of the members, possibly the quietest man ever to have played rugby, was Gerry Brand, then a centre. In the pack was a tall young man, Owen McCann, much later to become Cardinal Archbishop of Cape Town! He had joined the Club in March 1924.
Fred Burmeister was vice-president of the Western Province RFU during the time of JD de Villiers, beaten eventually in a strange election in 1951 when he was opposed for the position by Piet Bayly. He was elected a life member of the Hamiltons in 1924. Alfred Julius Burmeister died in 1952, leaving the Club £100 in his will.
Piet Bayly (born: Britstown, 27 April 1893; deceased: 1977)
Peter James Bayly (always known as Piet) joined Hamiltons in 1913 after leaving the SA College. In 1933 he became a Western Province selector and in 1938 the convenor of the WP selection committee, a position he held till 1951. He was also a national selector. In 1953 he was elected a vice-president of Hamiltons.
When JD de Villiers resigned as president of WPRFU early in 1954, he was succeeded by Piet Bayly, one of the great Hamiltons members, who remained in office until 1967, when Hannes Pretorius took over. (In 1982 Hannes Pretorius died suddenly and was succeeded by another Hamiltons man, Jan Pickard.) In 1963 Hamiltons Club presented Piet Bayly with a presidential chair, still used by the president of the WPRFU. The chair was to mark Piet Bayly’s 10th year as president of the Union and the 50th year of his membership of Hamiltons.
Piet Bayly’s cousin, Francis Mellish, also a prop and also once the Hamiltons captain, served the Union with great wisdom and fidelity in many capacities, including the post of senior vice-president.
Piet Bayly played for Hamiltons 1st XV from 1913 to 1929 and for Western Province from 1914 to 1925. He became a member of the Hamiltons committee in 1914 and first became a member of WPRFU committee in 1929. For a while clubs competed for the Bayly Cup, a second tier of first league competition after the Grand Challenge.
He served many sports and on many committees: he played golf, 1st league baseball for Sea Cardinals and became the vice-president of the WP Baseball Association, played tennis and was the president of the Fresnaye Tennis Club, president of the Fresnaye Sports Club, playing for the bowls section, and was vice-president of the Sea Point Camps Bay Swimming Club.
John Appleton (born: Cape Town, 18 October 1902; deceased: Cape Town, 12 September 1996)
There can be few men more faithful in their lifetimes than John Appleton. For over 70 years he was a member of Hamiltons and the Scout movement. He was not just a member, but a “boots-‘n-all” member, loyally committed to whatever body he belonged.
On 18 April 1921 John Appleton became a member of Hamiltons, proposed by Piet Bayly and seconded by Cecil Mellish. In 1924 he reached the heights of scrumhalf for the 2nd XV. After the World War II he coached the Under 19A team and in 1951 the 1st XV at a time when the Club was not finding it easy to get and keep coaches.
He was good with money and was devoted to the Club’s financial needs. He also served WPRFU well in this regard. In 1954 he became a member of the executive of WPRFU in 1954 when he and Danie Craven, who had been made an honorary Hamiltons member in 1952, were elected. Eventually he became the senior vice-president of the Union until he was deposed as senior vice-president of the WPRFU in 1971 by Jannie Krige of Stellenbosch.
John Appleton was elected a life member of the Union. Other Hamiltons members thus honoured have been Jack Heyneman (1904), Gerry Brand and Jan Pickard. Jack Heyneman was only the second life member of the Union. But John Appleton was really a Hamiltons man and is best remembered for his gentlemanly ardour for the Club’s wellbeing. In 1937 he was elected a life member of the Club. Few life members can have been so for so long! Oddly enough his wife Eileen was an ardent Villagers’ supporter; after all she was born in Mowbray!
Bo Wintle (born: Cape Town, 4 June 1911; deceased: Paarl, 3 March 1995)
James William Wintle, universally known as Bo, was one of the great personalities of Hamiltons and Western Province rugby. He played for and captained Hamiltons. A sturdy forward, Bo Wintle played for Western Province before World War II and captained the provincial team 1944.
In 1949 he was appointed the South African manager of the touring All Blacks, and he actually taught them to scrum at a time when their scrummaging was particularly poor. His wife, Blondie, who did so much work for Hamiltons, says that despite the fact that he coached and was fond of New Zealanders, he still ardently supported the Springboks against them.
Bo Wintle was an ardent Hamiltons man. He was manager and coach of the 1st XV and a Hamiltons selector, and both his sons, Dudley and Mike, were powerful Hamiltons forwards. Bo, Mike and Dudley all captained the Hamiltons Under 19 A team in their playing days.
The events of 1951 are strange indeed. There was much discussion at committee level that he was coaching Northerns 1st XV while a Hamiltons selector! Eventually the committee agreed that he could lend an occasional hand to Northerns and stay a Hamiltons selector! The very next week Hamiltons played Northerns. The teams drew 3-all. After that Bo Wintle resigned as match secretary and all executive positions at Hamiltons, preferring to coach Northerns. Japie (Jacob Jacobus) Verwey became match secretary. The committee next convened an urgent meeting to discuss an article on the matter in the Cape Argus (17 May 1951) with the headline: BO WINTLE BREAKS WITH HAMILTONS CLUB. He had been a member for 25 years and was a life member. The report said: “The unpleasantness arose out of the Club’s antiquated motto ‘Once a Hamilton always a Hamilton’.” The report was that Wintle had been “too tough” for Hamiltons in 1950. Understandably, he was reported to be “thoroughly fed up”.
In 1951 Don Duffett was captain of the Western Province touring team which included Paaitjie von Waltsleben and Hennie Laubscher. Jan Pickard had been chosen but had had to withdraw as he was leaving on the Springbok tour. In 1952 Duffett, Dorrington, HH Laubscher, W Richardson, Jan Pickard, P Britz and J von Waltsleben played for Western Province. Don Duffett was a great hooker.
Aunty Beryl was one of the most loyal supporters/members of Hamiltons. Her dog was even called Hamilton! When a member’s wife was due to have a baby she knitted furiously. She had great Hamiltons credentials, being the daughter of Willie Versfeld, and therefor the niece of Oupa, Hasie and Loftus. Her son Glen was an enthusiastic member of the 3rd reserve E team. She died in early 1960s.
Bull Bisogno (born: Cape Town, 1916; deceased 1978)
Bull Bisogno, great Hamiltons and Western Province prop, became a referee. The story goes that there was an occasion when a tipsy walker on his way home from the York Hotel walked straight across the field when Bull Bisogno, whose eyesight – even for a referee – was not good, was refereeing. The walker crossed the field just as a backline movement was taking place. The pass found the walker who caught the ball and passed it to the wing who scored. Bisogno awarded the try and the walker went on his uneven way.
Bull Bisogno played for Somerset West before moving to Hamiltons. He played 25 times for Western Province. He was also an accomplished life-saver and a keen mountaineer, and he was fun on the piano.
A member and a player at the turn of the 20th century, Richard Stanley Foster Lewis (Foster was his mother’s maiden name) had a walking stick in Hamiltons colours. He used to address annual general meeting after annual general meeting, exhorting the members to greater fitness. In 1950 he wrote a letter commending the 3rd XV on an excellent turn-out and performance. Then, suddenly, he resigned as a vice-president of the Club as he wanted to sever all connection with rugby football.
Stanley Lewis was an accountant who lived in Wynberg and died on 4 February 1951 in Groote Schuur Hospital at the age of 74 years and 9 months. At his funeral, the pallbearers were John Appleton, Piet Bayly, Arthur Fish and Bo Wintle.
Ivor Dorrington (born: Port Elizabeth, 25 June 1926; deceased: 29 November 1980)
Ivor Dorrington joined Hamiltons from Gardens in 1951. He attended the committee meeting which was to consider his application because he “had heard that certain objections were likely to be raised”. He was asked “several” questions by the committee and gave his explanation, after which he left the meeting and the committee discussed the matter. There was dissension among the committee members and the meeting was terminated, only to be reconvened half an hour later. The only vote against his membership was recorded by Japie Verwey.
Dorrington had been proposed by Puggy Craik and seconded by Bjorkie Björkman. He and Jan Pickard then joined the team on its tour to Port Elizabeth and Durban. They were not yet entitled to buy Club blazers but were allowed to borrow them for the tour.
Ivor Dorrington would be at the Club every day, practising with whatever team was practising at the time. He played for Western Province many times, a tough forward, regarded as too tough for the 1956 Springbok tour to New Zealand. He later played rugby league in England. Like his brother Rick he was an excellent golfer. He was also a first division cricketer, a tennis player, a wrestler and boxer, and a ballroom dancer.
VG Björkman (known by all as Bjorkie) played for Western Province in 1944. He was elected a life member on 28 February 1951. He was the moving spirit behind the erection of the clubhouse which was used for many social functions, including hobo dances, beetle drives, and film shows.
Francis George Moore was born in England on 16 September 1919 and came to South Africa when he was three. He played for Wanderers in Johannesburg and for Sale in England before moving to Cape Town where he became an ardent Hamiltons man and an executive member of the WPRFU. He lost his position on the executive in 1973 when Dr Porky Wells was elected in his place. The president of the Union, Hannes Pretorius, praised him for his “tremendous service”. He was a quantity surveyor and much involved in the building of Newlands rugby ground.
H Farmer Mellish
Cecil Mellish, who died in October 1951, was one of eight brothers, six of whom played senior rugby for Hamiltons. He joined the Club in 1912 as a halfback and after World War I played as a forward.
Captains: 1875-77 WYT Philip
1878-79 J Andrew
1880 A Greener
1881-82 WV Simkins
1883 CWP Douglas de Fenzi
1884-86 AH McLeod
1887 JA Gibbs
1888-89 CL van der Byl
1890-91 J Versfeld
1892-93 BR Duff
1894 M Versfeld
1895-97 HC Wood
1897-99 E Allen
1900-01 J Pritchard
1902-03 CB Brown
1903-05 L van Breda
1906 TEC Hobson
1907 CB Brown
1908-09 R Pritchard
1910 A Reid
1911 JD Luyt
1912-13 RR Luyt
1914 TM Moll
1915 RR Luyt
1916-18 DS Bam
1919 EA Botha
1920-25 PJ Bayly
1926 MW Humphrey
1927-28 BL Osler
1929 JC Tindall
1930 BL Osler
1931 JC Tindall
1932-39 GH Brand
1940-41 JW Wintle
1945 JW Wintle
1946-48 FCB Mellish
1949 RE Bisogno
1950 FG Moore
1951-53 D Duffett
1954 PJ Versfeld
1955-60 JAJ Pickard
1961 H Viljoen
1962 A Beyers
1963 M Wyness
1964-69 J Naudé
1970 D Lewis
1971-72 TEC Venables
1973 R Young
1974 C Hingston
1975 AC Parker
1976 G Ray
1977 AP Dreyer
1978 A Möhr
1979 M Russell
1980 D Claxton
1981 G Zondagh
1982 P Wessels
1983 J Tasker
1984 D Krugman
1985 B ffoulkes
1986 R Smith
1987 PJ Smit
1988 J Calitz
1989 C Marais
1990 E Coppin
1991 M van der Spuy
1992-94 F Derckson
1996 H Jordaan
1997-99 WA Swanepoel
2000 W Hickenbotham
2001 R Adams
2002 S Abderouf
2003 A Goddard
2004 C Van der Merwe
Life Members: 1875-1886 CWP Douglas de Fenzi
1887 RLO Versfeld
1889-1892 CL van der Byl
1895 BR Duff
1899 C Duff
1901 CL Andersson
1904 J Versfeld
1908 CJ Thompson
1909 JGD Heyneman
1912 N Duffett
1913 A Reid
1917 AR Burmeister
1921 JC Haswell
1922 E Allen
1924 DS Bam
1925 PJ Bayly
1929 WE Lawton
1933 CE Louw
1935 JLM Brown
1937 J Appleton
1942 GH Brand
1944 EH Cowling
1946 JW Wintle
1947 A Craik
1950 VG Björkman
1952 AF Fish
1953 Col. HJC Stephan
1954 HT Mellish
1955 FCB Mellish
1956 FG Moore
1958 V Pettit
1961 AW Klerck
1964 VH Thompson
1968 H Wyness
1971 LP Johnston
1975 JP Naudé
1976 C McCraw
1977 L O’Riordan
1978 M Silke
1992 BG Traviss
1994 BEM Whitmill
1997 H (Jack) Frost
2004 C B P Prentice
Patrons: 1946- 1951 Major GB Van Zyl
1988 J (Jack) Appleton
2004 H (Jack) Frost
Vice Patrons: 1968 PJ (Piet) Bayly
Presidents: 1889-1913 WV Simkins
1914-1927 JG Heyneman
1927-1945 Maj. GB van Zyl
1946-1966 Col HJC Stephan
1967-1973 PJ Bayly
1973-1987 J Appleton
1990- 2003 HJ Frost
2004- D G Kagan