5 days ago
In 1967 a young Australian rugby league player took an evening stroll through the quiet Yorkshire Dales market town of Ilkley wearing nothing more than a bowler hat!
Now, 36 years later, that man is to return to the town to relive that infamous night - with a party of Australian League supporters.
Rugby League immortal Johnny ‘Chook' Raper MBE was that man and the bowler hat tale has stuck with him ever since.
He obviously wanted to be on the Moor with ‘only' a hat!
Raper's return visit so many years on will no doubt conjure many memories of the days the Kangaroo tourists embarked upon full tours to England where they played club sides as well as the Tests.
And those supporters travelling with him on Specialist Tours Australia 30-day ‘Bowler Hat' tour are sure to be in for a great time as the St George immortal recounts his times on tour in 1959, 1963 and in that famous 1967 tour when Australia came back from a first test defeat to triumph 2-1 in the series.
The 2003 Kangaroo tour may well be the last as we all know Kangaroo tours to be with proposals for a tri-nations tournament to replace it from 2004 well advanced.
So the ‘Bowler Hat' tour will take on added significance as Australia face the Great Britain Lions in three tests at Wigan's magnificent JJB Stadium, at the brand new 25,000 all-seater, state-of-the-art KC Stadium in Hull and at the McAlpine Stadium in the town that is the birthplace of this great game, Huddersfield.
Kangaroo tours are legendary for their hospitality and sightseeing and this tour, managed by former international referee and English RFL Director of Rugby, Greg McCallum, through his company, Specialist Tours Australia will give the traveller a superb view of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland - as well as every game involving the Kangaroos on tour.
As well as the three Tests, supporters will see the warm-up games against England A, New Zealand A and Wales.
The tour takes in the very best of London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Dublin as well as the league strongholds of Yorkshire and Lancashire - plus some great stays in the city of York, the English Lake District, Manchester, home of the world's most famous soccer club and Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles and day trips to places like Stonehenge, Oxford, Stratford -upon-Avon, Windsor Castle, Bath, Old Trafford. Loch Lomond and St Andrews.
‘The Man in the Bowler Hat' will also host two ‘exclusive' Test dinners at Wigan and Leeds where other great names of the game - both past and present - will join the group.
In what Johnny Raper MBE would aptly describe as a ‘never to be repeated once in a lifetime experience' rugby league supporters wishing to gain more information about this totally unique travel itinerary, should contact:
Specialist Tours Australia on (02) 9548 6222