Royal Marine Band Service vs Deal and Betteshanger Lions

Musn. Beveridge on one of his bullocking runs!
DMaj(T) Dave Birt making a break through the middle of the park.
Captain Sam Hairsine leaping high in the line out.
RMB no.9 Cpl Chris Beal making a strong carry.
Obligatory post-match team phot!
RMBS Club President, Brig. Jock Fraser presents the Memorial Shield to the joint captains of Deal and Betteshanger RFC

The Royal Marines Band Service vs Deal & Betteshanger Lions 

Memorial Rugby Match, 01 Oct 2022  

On 22nd September the whole of the Band Service, along with many in the local community of Deal, took time to pause and remember the 11 musicians killed by the IRA when they bombed the Deal Staff Band’s rest area on that day in 1989. What better way to honour and remember them than by playing a charitable, fun and respectful rugby match against Deal and Betteshanger RFC, as the Band Service has done in almost every year since. Many of those who lost their lives on that day were part of this rugby club and part of the community of Deal. 

The Band Service squad gathered on the 30th of September to train for this annual meeting with team captain Harry Yarnell, Jack Ballard and Major Andy Gregory leading drills and motivational talks for the team. After a hard day's training, the team decided to go for a team bonding “meal” in Southsea but ensured no one had too much wine or ale, but just enough to calm the nerves before the storm! 

Saturday 1st October – the day of the game had arrived and with everyone getting a good night's sleep, we were up and on the bus by 0730 to visit the memorial wall in Deal before the game to hold a short service to pay our respects. For a few of the players from the school, it was our first time going down to Deal and we all left there saying how emotional it was understanding how much it affected the people of Deal, as well as the serving personnel. 

Onto the game! The game started and the Band Service put up a good defensive shift for the first three quarters of the game. An early converted try from the home team was followed by some highly competitive periods throughout the rest of the first half, but with neither side managing to make it over the line. The half time score was just 7-0 to Deal, however RMB’s lack of depth in the squad started to show towards the end of the game when the opposition bought on a few select first team players.  Deal was able to apply more pressure to see them run away with the win and a final score of 36-5. 

Bug Beveridge scored the Band Service’s only points, ploughing over the line from a couple of metres out with the last play of the game. A special mention must also go to DMaj (T) Dave Birt who stepped up to take the conversion and got it a lot closer than most of the crowd had expected! Following the final whistle, the Corps of Drums from HMS Collingwood marched on to entertain the players and the large crowd with an immaculate performance, before the Club’s new President, Brig. Jock Fraser RM presented the Memorial Trophy to the home team. 

There were standout performances from the longer serving personnel, although it’s uncertain if that was in the boat race in the bar afterwards or the 80 minutes before! RMB was superbly hosted by the Deal & Betteshanger club.  

A huge thank you to Gordon Clark and David Halpin from VEOLIA Water who not only sponsored this year’s memorial match, but also travelled all the way down from sunny Dunfermline to support the team as the Club’s official kit sponsor. 

What is certain is that everyone who played or supported left on the bus that day remembering those who were killed in that tragic act. It is sincerely hoped that for many years to come, the Band Service still continue to find players willing to put their bodies on the line for their oppos next to them in remembrance of the 11 musicians that died and those still affected today. 

We remember: Mark Petch 24, Robert Simmonds 34, Timothy John Reeves 24, Dean Pavey 31, David McMillan 26, Richard Jones 27, Richard Fice 22, Trevor Davis 39, John A Cleatheroe 25, Michael Ball 24, Christopher Robert Nolan 21.

Words by Musn George Prentice

Images by Navy Rugby © Paul Willmott