“Don’t Let Me Die Before the G & P”

Rhodesians Had a Capacity to down a Lion or Castle or two

The Globe and Phoenix Club, 2010.  The exterior essentially unchanged fifty five years on.

“Don’t Let Me Die Before the G & P”

Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor at the Cape of Good Hope established the first brewery at the Castle in 1658.  Castle Breweries sprung up in 1895 on the Witwatersrand.  Within two years it was the first industrial company to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In 1910 they launched their first international venture with Rhodesian Breweries just as the first rugby games were being played at Princess Park in Que Que.

“Don’t Let Me Die Before the G & P”

In these early days, the Que Que and District Rugby Club played against Bulawayo, a hundred and fifty miles away.  It might be a week long trip, depending on the train services.  Selukwe, the Surprise Mine and Gwelo teams were closer to hand.   To play at Gwelo the club would leave on Saturday evening, and arrive in Gwelo about 10 pm to play the following afternoon.  After the game the players would adjourn to the Horse Shoe Hotel until the Mail left for Que Que at 7 pm. when they would take charge of the dining saloon.

The premier rugby trophy, the G & P Shield, was presented by the Globe and Phoenix Mine in 1926, with the stipulation that the semi-finals and finals be played in Que Que.

Before the new Sports Club was built off Rhodes Highway in 1954, the games were played on the Globe and Phoenix Field in the veld between the Gwelo Road and road to Gokwe.  A few spectator bleachers would be set up for the officials and dignitaries. Everyone else drove up to the field in their cars and lorries and climbed onto their bonnet, boot or roof.

Thornhill Airforce Base was set up outside Gwelo to train aircrews in WWII.  It produced over eighteen hundred pilots. Of course they were fine rugby players and beer drinkers and pretended the war was a game and they were school boys.

Neville Mare remembers when Len Puttick coached Thornhill in the 70’s when they won the Midlands league, which qualified them for the G & P Shield.  In keeping with tradition, Len’s glass was filled with Castle Lager to be downed in a gulp while the team players sang Down! Down! Down!

Len was breathless.  Blue in fact.  The bottle cap had lodged in his throat.

Like any true rugby coach or player, he claimed his only prayer was “Don’t let me die before the G & P!”

A rugby slap on the back dislodged the cap.

Is that why sportmen insist on drinking from the bottle to this day?

Thanks to Neville Mare (RhAF) for this yarn http://www.ourstory.com/orafs. and to my son Jonathan Davis, jondavisphotography, Marina del Rey, Los Angeles, for the photo http://www.jondavisphoto.com/

Ken Connelly:  Update on Rugby.  The Globe & Phoenix Shield was the annual end of season competition featuring the top teams from each of the four provinces, Masonaland, Matabeleland, Manicaland and Midlands, the winner considered the champion club of the country. In the 80’s a “super league” was introduced whereby all the top clubs played each other regularly so the tournament fell away. You may be interested to know that I actually played in the last one in 1980 for Zisco, we beat Harare Sports Club 25-7 in the final.
Rodney Tapson played for Rhodesia and more recently Peter Albasini and Gary Muller represented Zimbabwe.


  • Alan Harris

    Reply Reply April 10, 2013

    I am not sure when the The Globe & Phoenix Shield ceased however it was played in 1981. Salisbury Sports triumphed over Old Miltonians and Zisco managed to beat Manicaland’s representative side Chipinga for third place. The Chipinga boys, of which I was one, had a great weekend with lots of playing on and off the field!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Alan, Here is a repeat of Ken Connelly’s update on Rugby I posted some time ago… “In the 80′s a “super league” was introduced whereby all the top clubs played each other regularly so the tournament fell away. You may be interested to know that I actually played in the last one in 1980 for Zisco, we beat Harare Sports Club 25-7 in the final. Rodney Tapson played for Rhodesia and more recently Peter Albasini and Gary Muller represented Zimbabwe.”
      Ken is still in Que Que and reports the Sports Club is still very active.

  • Lynn Fowler Bell

    Reply Reply November 18, 2014

    I am from Que Que many years ago. Please tell me if you are the David Lewis son of Howard and Nora Lewis. I have a tea set which my dad kept from the G & P.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 20, 2014

      Lynn, The Lewis family have been in touch…scattered all around. I would love to have a picture of the tea set from the G&P what a treasure! I’ll send you my email address so you can attach it there.


  • Sue Bridgwater

    Reply Reply December 16, 2016

    I’ve spotted the name ‘Rodney Tapson’ which is the name of my late uncle Rod, an outstanding amateur soccer player from Plymouth, Devon UK. Tapson is a single-origin surname originating in Buckland Monachorum, Devon. I’ve recently started a Tapson family FB page and welcome any Tapsons or Tapson connections to join we are all related!


  • Ken MacLachlan

    Reply Reply August 5, 2020

    I played in the Globe and Phoenix Tournament in the 1960’s when Old Miltonians won the Shield.
    Does anyone have the list of winners perhaps?

    • Jo Amos

      Reply Reply July 10, 2021

      Whilst Ken is correct on a number of points there are a few errors…. In 1980 Risco still existed as did Salisbury Sports Clu so the title of winners went to Risco not Zisco. 1980 was not the last year of the G&P …I played with Ken in the Risco side that won it in 1980 and in the side that came 3rd in 1981. Great bunch of guys both years and an honour to have been part of the team.

  • Charles Castelin

    Reply Reply August 6, 2020

    I believe RISCO/ZISCO won the G & P Shied a few times. Dolf Landman, in Harare, could give you more details

  • Charles Castelin

    Reply Reply August 6, 2020

    I have just seen that Ken Connolly has provided some info. Ken is probably the best person to contact for more detail if you want. He helped me a lot in my story for my planned History of ZISCO with respect to the RISCO/ZISCO club rugby section.

  • Arthur Will

    Reply Reply March 29, 2021

    I played a couple of games with Len Puttick, the Deysel brothersReg Stewart etc against Shabani.
    I stayed on Cyril Tapson’s mine and also as a schoolboy stayed with Arthur Birkin (played for the Rhodesian side that beat Fred Allen’s All Blacks in 1949 ) on the mine in Lower Gwelo

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