It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death on Tuesday 21st February 2023, of another good and great Old Sulian, Ian Holmes.
Ian was a passionate farmer and rugby man, who was regarded by all as a friend, a club legend and who will always be remembered at Lansdown.
Ian’s story with the Sulians began with his good friend Mick Moore, who sadly passed away in 2021. Both Ian and Mick were regulars in The George Inn at Norton St Philip for some time, and over time Ian had been introduced to those Sulians who met regularly at the pub. Mick learned that Ian was going to give up playing for Bath Rugby, where he had made 26 appearances as back row over 5 years, and started to try and woo him up to Lansdown. Sulians needed the help - the 1970/1971 season was not good to say the least, having only won 6 games out of 35 and ending the season with a crushing defeat of 3-55 to Midsomer Norton.
A group of players knew that Mick was trying in his own inimitable way to recruit Ian, so to show their commitment they decided to start pre-season early and get really fit for the 1971/1972 season. They regularly met at the Clubhouse from May and ran along the road to Brockham End. It started off with seven or eight, but news spread and soon they were meeting every Tuesday and Thursday for the road run. Eventually they decided that, with up to twenty regular players attending, it was too much of a risk being in amongst the traffic, so they approached Bath Racecourse, who to everyone’s surprise agreed and let them run around the race course twice a week. They then ran around the Corporation playing fields, across Lansdown Lane, and two laps of the race course before returning to the clubhouse.
In the meantime, Mick had persuaded Ian to meet the Committee and some players, which took place in the Dungeon Bar at the George Inn, and the hard sales pitch, worked as Ian agreed to join the Old Sulians. At the Annual General Meeting, although he had never played for us, Ian was elected 1st XV Captain. Training then began in earnest with Ian coaching the players, and Russ Colwill (Bath Police and Old Sulians) responsible for a tough PE training regime.The efforts of all in the pre-season resulted in a truly electric atmosphere, before, during and after the game on Saturday 4th September 1971 with the opening game versus Chippenham, resulting in a 10-7 win. What a night in the Clubhouse!! During that first season under Ian’s leadership, Sulians won 27 out of 42 games, a complete turnaround.
The season also included a very good run in the Somerset Cup, beating Bath University, Frome, Old Westhillians (Culverhasians) and Bristol Harlequins, losing eventually in the semi-final to Hornets.
Ian made an outstanding contribution to Sulians both on the field, as a player and very importantly as an active committee member over many years. From 1971 to 1980 Ian played 296 games for the Sulians, was Captain in 71/72, 72/73, 73/74 and 75/76 seasons. After Ian retired from playing, he was Club Chairman from 1989 to 1993, Vice President 1981 to 2023 and Club President 1999 to 2002 and always a regular on the touchline, initially at all games but latterly, only, at home fixtures, often meeting up with other “oldies” local to Lansdown for lunch and a catch up before the game.
During his time at the club, Ian transformed the Old Sulians. He was a true gentleman and a club legend, who will be greatly missed by all at Lansdown and we offer our sincere condolences to Jenny and family at the passing of Ian. We will be sure to raise a glass often and remember him fondly.