Noel Armstead

Dry Leas will be somber this weekend as we mourn the death of Scoop yesterday.

Scoop (no one called him Noel) was our anchor through the many trials, tribulations, successes and disappointments faced by the Club from 1964, when, having been appointed to Lloyds Bank in Henley, he played for our 4th XV. His dedication to our community rugby started then and never diminished. Further afield, he followed England and the Lions on tours to all the southern hemisphere rugby countries.

He saw the arrival of league tables, Clive Woodward and the rugby style which helped shape England’s successes, semi-professional rugby, the heady heights of National 1, occasional relegation. His outstanding contribution was his writing skill. For many years he was the Club’s correspondent to the outside world; weekly match reports, editorship of the Henley Hack in pre-internet days, match previews. His writing style was much praised. He reported on all away games and made numerous friends among competing clubs.

In 2008 he was elected President. A major challenge he faced was the financial situation of the Club – how to continue our level of first team rugby while remaining solvent (plus ça change..!). His banking discipline surely helped here. As President, he was a true ambassador for the club, forging strong relationships with all levels of the RFU and local government. Everywhere he left a trail of courtesy, trust, warmth and friendship.

Every member will have different memories of Scoop. My own are very precious. I met him when he was in the choir at All Saints Marlow and he introduced and welcomed me to the Club. For many years we lunched together on Saturdays and I loved his immense understanding and love of the game. I loved his humour, his generosity, his rich singing voice, his frustration at my refusal to eat a lardy cake, his total dedication to the club.

We all share a love of the man. Within an hour of the announcement of his passing the tributes were flowing in - “a fine principled man”, “he reminds of us of all that is great about rugby, friendship, honour, respect, tradition”, “what a top bloke”.

What better summary of Scoop’s life than his own words in a press interview in 2011 – “Henley is my life blood and I will always do my best for the Club and the community”.

A true club man who will be deeply missed.

John Louth, on behalf of Henley RFC

Scoop’s Funeral will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Henley on Wednesday, December 12th at 1.30pm and afterwards at the Rugby Club. All are welcome.