Cornish Rugby Legend "Bonzo" Johns - a tribute

By Bill Hooper, posted 25th August 2014

A true colossus of Cornish rugby Charles Robert "Bonzo" Johns has passed away at the age of 80.

He was a player revered not only by those he played with, but also and perhaps just important, those he played against.

This was so well epitomised the last time he played against Gloucestershire in 1970 when at the final whistle the whole of the Gloucestershire pack, which at that time included many International players, hoisted Bonzo on their shoulders and chaired him off the field in recognition of their great battles over the years. He was also a firm favourite with the crowd wherever he played, Bonzo loved the crowd and the crowd loved Bonzo. In the 1950s and 60s there wasn't a household in Cornwall that didn't know who was Bonzo.

Working on a Saturday morning as a coalman would see him cycle to Redruth from Portreath on his bicycle. Later on many will remember him on his milk round in the Redruth area always with his chirpy smile and chat.

It was his engaging personality and a huge smile that made him so popular with fellow players and the public.

I can well remember prior to the County Final in 1969, Cornish supporters parading a large mascot around the pitch at Redruth to huge cheers; needless to say the mascot was named Bonzo.

He was a player who possessed huge strength; once he had the ball you had a job to get it off him. He was a renowned srummager and powerful in the loose and driving with the ball from the front of the lineout. In those days if a player was driven into touch with the ball his side would retain possession when play re-started. "Driven into touch ref," Bonzo would plead to the official; invariably the decision went his way.

Bonzo played all his career 21 years with Redruth and made his debut for the club at the age of sixteen. At that time he played mostly in the second row.

It wasn't long before he caught the eye of the county selectors earning the first of his eighty-eight county caps, which stood as a record for well over twenty years, against the British Police at Camborne in September 1954.

He scored the only try in the Championship game against Somerset in October of the same year at Redruth as Cornwall topped the South West group in a run that saw them lose the semi-final against Middlesex at Redruth, however it was Bonzo who caught the eye with a tremendous performance winning lineout after lineout and driving down the pitch with the whole of Middlesex hanging on his back!

His performances saw him earn the first of many England trials but to the dismay of everyone in Cornwall and many beyond the Tamar he never got his England cap.

Moving up into the front row Bonzo would play for Cornwall in two County Championship Finals against Warwickshire in 1958 and Lancashire in 1969, both were to end in disappointment.

Despite not earning international recognition Bonzo was invited by the Barbarians to play in their prestigious Easter tour of Wales in 1962.

He faced the might of the Southern Hemisphere Nations playing for Cornwall & Devon against the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies. His final appearance for Cornwall was in Clermont-Ferrand when Cornwall drew 11-11 with a powerful French Selection side boasting many future Internationals.

After his playing days Bonzo turned to rugby administration both at Redruth and for Cornwall. He was Chairman of Selectors when Cornwall triumphed at Twickenham in 1991 against Yorkshire. There would not have been many happier, nor broader smiles that Cornwall had after 83 years finally won another County Championship.

In 2000, Bonzo was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedh with the bardic name Gwarier du Hag Owr which translates to Black and Gold player, he was a true son of Cornwall.

The funeral will be held on Tuesday 2nd September 2014, 3pm, at Treswithian Downs Crematorium. Family flowers only, but donations if desired in aid of the British Heart Foundation by retiring collection or c/o The Funeral Directors Bernard Williams and Son, Redwings, 10 Roseland Gardens, Redruth, telephone 01209 315060.

Trelawny's Army Supporters Club wishes to extend its condolences to family and friends.

Bonzo Johns in action for Cornwall against Devon

Bonzo Johns in action for Cornwall against Devon

This tribute is also available via Bill's Blog.

Pete Belsher

Posted 6th August 2014

It is with deepest regret that we announce the death of Pete Belsher.

The news was passed to Trelawny's Army on Monday (4 August).

TASC Chairman Phil Trevarton said, "Pete was a staunch supporter of Cornish Rugby, ever present at Cornwall games with the many Saltash members of Trelawny's Army. It was on the coach to an away match where I had the pleasure of meeting him for the first time. Pete will be sadly missed by the Club. On behalf of the Club I extend my condolences to all his family and friends."

Pete's funeral will be held 12.30pm Tuesday 12 August at Glynn Valley Crematorium. We have been informed by a close friend that rugby shirts may be worn.

Pete Belsher RIP

Pete Belsher RIP

Honouring the Cornwall Rugby Squad 2014

Posted 1st August 2014

To celebrate the County XV getting to the Bill Beaumont final again this year, the TASC committee has decided to repeat the celebration buffet we held last year.

The team gave their all to get to Twickenham, they did the County proud and won a lot of respect and recognition.

We have booked the same excellent menu as last year at the same cost.

Venue: Lostwithiel Gold Club
Date: Saturday 13 September 2014, 8:00pm
Cost: TASC members and partners £6:00 each
Transport: mini-buses from east and west

Please save the date. Full details on how to book will be available in the next TASC Newsletter, due out soon.


Posted 8th June 2014

By TASC Chairman Phil Trevarton

The County Championship may have finished for another year, but Marina and the Tradestand will be attending a number of events this summer, so if you need a new Rugby Shirt or a Cornish Erection T-Shirt or any of our extensive range of gifts, or just enjoy going to Agricultural Shows, you can catch us at :

Liskeard & District Agricultural Show Saturday 12th July Merrymeet Liskeard Show 2013
Camborne Agricultural Show Saturday 19th July Gwealavellan Farm, Gwithian Camborne Show 2013
Launceston Agricultural Show Thursday 24th July Kennard’s House, Launceston Launceston Show
Camelford Agricultural Show Wednesday 13th August Halwill Barton, Camelford Camelford Show 2013
St. Ewe Country Fair (TBC) Sunday 17th August St. Ewe Village Hall Field St Ewe Country Fair 2013


Posted 7th June 2014

By TASC Chairman Phil Trevarton

For many years now Trelawny’s Army has been indebted to Radio Cornwall for the numerous references and air-time given to promoting rugby across the County, be it “Live Commentary” on Sunday afternoons from the Mennaye or Saturday’s reports from Hellfire Corner or Polson Bridge, and down to the results from every league, including Cornwall I and II.

Duncan Warren

Duncan Warren

There can be no doubt that Radio Cornwall kept the County Championship in the hearts and minds of rugby supporters, especially in the dark days when Cornwall slipped into the County Shield, home gates crashed to just a few hundred, the Regional Television Sports Editors deserted us completely, and only the West Britonand the Cornwall Independent showed any true interest in the County Campaign.

TASC saw the need to raise the profile of the County Game before in disappeared completely by using the contacts in the press and Radio Cornwall that Press Officer Bill Hooper and Secretary Ian Gordon had formed. Our own website flew the “flag” as highly as any media and for many was the sole source of news about the County Championship for those further afield. John Prowse, our retiring webmaster, should be very proud of what he has achieved over the last 20 years. But slowly each year we saw progress, the County won promotion back to the Bill Beaumont Cup and interest slowly grew again, press coverage increased, the Cornwall Independent and West Britoncovered the campaigns well, and the other Cornish papers increased the size of their columns regarding Cornwall’s progress.

Chloe Lyme and Amy Gladwell

Chloe Lyme and Amy Gladwell

This year followed on from last year’s successful campaign. (Yes, I know we lost the final, but see what we achieved in 2013: a huge home crowd at Camborne, good travelling support at Cinderford and Medway, many supporters living outside of Cornwall turning up to cheer the team on, 20,000 Cornishmen and women watched the final at Twickenham.) This year there was excellent press coverage throughout the campaign. I must praise in particular the Western Morning News for their articles. Regional television took an interest and Radio Cornwall was right behind the team all the way, as always. Even Sky reacted by broadcasting the 2014 Final.

But it is for this year and the progress made over the years that I wish to thank Radio Cornwall in particular. This year we were approached by Radio Cornwall to give our views on the Championship. Throughout the build up Ian Gordon and Bill Hooper were given “air time” and both Bill and myself broadcast “live” from the studio to promote Trelawny’s Army and the County Championship. It was a great honour given to the three of us to speak about something that inspires our pride and passion so fervently.

Ready to go on air

Ready to go on air

The support didn’t stop there and, as many of you that listen to Radio Cornwall already know, Laurence Reed was invited and accepted to join Trelawny’s Army and took the overnight coach to Twickenham. It was a pleasure to have his company. He laughed, joked, interviewed, enjoyed a “sherbet” or two, recorded, and felt the full range of emotions during the roller-coaster of this year’s final. He is a “True Star” and a “Man of Cornwall”.

Laurence 'Late again' Reed

Laurence 'Late again' Reed

Laurence Hard at Work

Laurence Hard at Work

It was a pleasure to have had your company, Laurence, and thank you to the whole of the Radio Cornwall Team for your coverage and promotion of Rugby and the County Championship.

Phil Trevarton TASC Chairman


Posted 2nd June 2014

By TASC Chairman Phil Trevarton

With 25 minutes to go Cornwall’s name looked certain to be engraved on the Bill Beaumont Trophy, but we all saw what happened. Lancashire are a great team, big strong ball carriers to a man and deserved their win in the end.

So my hearty congratulations to Lancashire. Well Done!

Cornwall and their fans went home defeated, but not disgraced, and proved again that a County Final only has meaning if Cornwall is part of it.

BJ gets the ball away

BJ gets the ball away


We have all laughed and cried at Cornwall games in the past, we have all speculated about Lancashire being the “monkey on Cornwall’s back”. But it isn’t true, it just happens to be that at this current time the league structure happens to favour Lancashire as a county, just like in the “Naughties” it favoured Devon, and nothing lasts forever.

Not even Sunday’s defeat can diminish the respect for the Cornish squad and the coaching team of Graham Dawe and Ian Morgan that Trelawny’s Army feels. The message I send to you is this “Do not feel in any way that have failed or disappointed us, we will continue to share in your quest in the many years to come on the trail to Twickenham for Bill Beaumont Cup glory.

Phil Trevarton TASC Chairman


Posted 3rd June 2014

The day after the Twickenham final, Trelawny’s Army received the following email from the CRFU:

(This is) say a big thank you for all your work, support and commitment personally and from everyone involved at TASC, over the past season from the coaches, players, selectors and back room staff.

The result went against us yesterday but we have the foundations to build upon and go one better next year.

The Cornish people are fantastic and the support we got not only at our 2 home games, but also at Hertfordshire and yesterday was superb. We were all gutted that we did not bring back the Bill Beaumont Cup to Cornwall but equally as gutted that we did not do it for our fans. Our support is as we say our number 16 player and we all so much appreciate the time, effort and financial burden that you all face to support us.

Anyway once again a big thank you from me personally and everyone involved to you and everyone in the TASC and the wider rugby-supporting Cornwall community. Have a few days to reflect and hopefully relax before we start all over again.

Many thanks,

Colin Hatch, CRFU