Penryn mourn the loss of former skipper “Cheyenne”


Photo: John Blackburn at front of the lineout for Penryn against London Welsh 1973

John Blackburn, who sadly passed away this week aged 79, was in his heyday one of the most renowned lock forwards playing in Cornwall during the sixties and early seventies, forming a a second row partnership with Colin “Knocker” Kneebone

He looked the part of “Cheyenne”, a nickname taken from the cowboy TV character of the time Cheyenne Bodie with his long hair and headband and hands like shovels. He played in a mighty Penryn side that dominated south west rugby during that period and featured in Penryn’s great run in the National Knock Out Cup, notably against Coventry and London Welsh against whom he captained the Borough.

Exeter were dispatched on that run to the last eight in 1972 before Penryn lost to a David Duckham inspired Coventry 28-4 at a muddy Memorial Ground, whilst the following year London Welsh, boasting several British Lions from 1971 won 19-6 at the same stage. Both games were played to a capacity gate of some 5,000.

John also featured in some prestigious games at Penryn notably against the 1971 British Lions, Public School Wanderers International XV and a memorable win against the famed Harlequins.

John played 20 times for Cornwall, making his debut in a friendly game against Oxfordshire at Falmouth, which Cornwall won 22-5. His County Championship debut came at Redruth in October 1969 against Gloucestershire in a game lost 9-12.

He did feature in both games played against the French that season, the 11- all draw in Clermont Ferrand against a French Selection and the narrow 13-14 defeat to France B at Redruth.

Former Penryn No.8 Tim Nicholls said of his former team-mate “John was a physically powerful force and gave his all for Penryn over many seasons, including as captain. A tough, uncompromising figure on the field, and a true character off it, John was always supported by his wife Pat and our thoughts and most sincere condolences to her and the family at this time. The word legend can truly be used for “Cheyenne”. His friends at the Borough and elsewhere will raise a glass in his memory at this sad time. ‘

John’s funeral will be held at St. Mylor Church (Mylor Dockyard) on Friday 27th July @ 3:30 p.m.

Afterwards at Penryn R.F.C.

Posted in Bill's Blog

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