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Mike Slemen threading his way gracefully down the left wing was a
sight that warmed the hearts of
He was a scrum-half in those days, but soon outgrew the
position, reaching 6 foot before he left to study pharmacy at
He spent a year studying at Aston before transferring to St
Luke’s College down in
After St Luke’s he successfully applied for a teaching post
at Merchant Taylors’,
Mike learned of his selection for that match while he was in
the staff-room at school, where the rugby correspondent of the Press
Association telephoned to inform him that he was in the side. “I
couldn’t stop shaking all week,” Mike said.
It was the start of a 24-match run in the England side that
was only broken five years later when he was unavailable for
England’s two-Test tour of Argentina. By then he had established
himself as a household name in Bill Beaumont’s
His first major tour was with the
He hit the ground running, scoring two tries in the tour
opener against Japan B in
He thus missed the pleasures of downtown
Normal service was resumed in mid-week when
For the second
Although the tourists returned with their 100% record intact,
few felt that
But 1979-80 was to go down as a golden year for English rugby
and the strength of character that had enabled the team to win tight
matches and even come from behind in the South Pacific proved a not
insignificant factor as the domestic season unravelled. Mike was an
integral part of the success.
The All Blacks made a short visit to
The North were leading through a penalty to nil after
half-an-hour before Steve Smith put in a low trajectory kick into
New Zealand’s half. The All Black defenders were unable to cope
with the bobbling ball and Mike Slemen was the first to gather it
cleanly before sending Smith scampering over for a try that brought
the house down. The North’s win was only the third (but easily the
most substantial) by an English division against the touring All
The nucleus of the England 1980 Grand Slam fifteen was built
around that victorious Northern Division outfit, with Bill Beaumont
carrying on as captain. Mike’s
silken running and subtle changes of pace were assets to a side that
1980 was also a Lions year, the famous tourists setting out
The 1980 visit went down as the unlucky tour, the Lions
having to call for eight replacements during their 18-match trip.
Mike himself only played in five matches, returning home owing to a
family illness after the narrow defeat in the first Test. But in his
short time on tour he stamped his class on the team and scored one
of rugby history’s most memorable tries.
The Lions were trailing against the South African Invitation
XV at altitude in Potchefstrom as the match entered its dying
moments. In a desperate effort to snatch victory from the jaws of
defeat the tourists launched an incredible attack that went left to
right,back and fore …… the ball eventually passing through 40
pairs of hands before Bruce Hay gave the final transfer to Mike on
the left wing, who scored the winning try.
He told the Guardian’s Frank Keating afterwards: “We
didn’t actually realise what we’d done until we trooped off and
walked past the grandstand, the crowd cheering us to the echo. It
was mesmerising. Okay, I finished it off, but it was the third time
I’d had a dash in the whole amazing sequence.”
English rugby, after its annus mirabilis in 1980, fell into
decline, though Mike scored THE try of the 1981 Five Nations when he
was twice involved in a flowing movement on each side of the pitch.
The commentator Peter West reckoned “the try illustrated
Slemen’s instinct for keeping himself in the game, and not
standing waiting in the wings for something for happen.”
Mike, who felt that that was the most satisfying try he
scored in his
He lost his place in the
Mike always believed in putting something back into the game
and his loyalty – to rugby union as well as to his employers at
Merchant Taylors’, Crosby, where he has been a master for 30-plus
years – has been exemplary. Despite offers, he never felt tempted
to follow many of his contemporaries by penning an autobiography,
staying with the Union code and devoting much of his leisure time to
He played his last first-class match in May 1986, leading
The player once described as “a wing of resplendent
athleticism and polished control” was equally effective at
polishing the skills of arguably the most successful
THE MIKE SLEMEN COLLECTION
We are proud to be able to offer a selection of memorabilia collected by Mike over his years as a player and coach.
A percentage of the sale price for each item will be donated to the rugby charity Wooden Spoon Society, of which Mike is the President of the Merseyside branch.
Each item in the collection is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity personally signed by Mike Slemen.
Please scroll down to see the great selection on offer or click on the links below for individual sections.
ENGLAND, PLAYER & COACH - sold out
ENGLAND TOUR OF FIJI, JAPAN & TONGA 1979
Newspaper - Asahi Evening News with report of Japan v England 2nd Test 1979 on the back page, includes photo of Mike scoring a try.
Ref: PL28-np-gms - £3.25
BRITISH LIONS 1980 - sold out
COUNTY & NORTHERN DIVISION
Official Team Photograph - Devon team that played Somerset on 21st October 1972, some discolouration to bottom of photo.
Ref: PL28-ph-devon-gms - £2.25
| Photograph - Lancshire - County
Championship winners 1977, photo mounted onto printed card containing
championship details, opponents and scores etc, size 60cm x 38cm
(24" x 15"), some water damage to mount.
Ref: ZN12-E01-10-phla-cc-gms - £4.00
CLUB & CELEBRATION - sold out
PROGRAMMES - All programmes in this section are accompanied by a COA signed by Mike
Grand Slam season for England
|2 Mar 1991||Dublin||7 - 16||Excellent
Ref: PL28-priniren91-gms - £3.25
Mike Slemen 20" x 16" (50cm x 40cm) limited edition
(limited to 25) signed print. This print has been personally signed by Mike
Slemen. The print run is limited to 25 only with only 20 available for sale to
Ref: pt-slemen - £5.00
TIES - sold out
END OF COLLECTION
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FURTHER READING - click on the image to enlarge the thumbnail. Articles courtesy of Rugby World
|Rugby World - Spotlight on Mike Slemen||Rugby World - Article on England wings Peter Squires & Mike Slemen||Rugby World - Article on England wings Peter Squires & Mike Slemen (2)||Mike Slemen recalled to face Scotland in 1984||Mike Slemen recalled to face Scotland in 1984 (2)|
MIKE SLEMEN STATISTICS
career: 1976 I, F,
1977 S, I, F, W, 1978
F, W, S, I, NZ, 1979 S, I, F,
W, NZ, 1980 I, F, W, S,
1981 W, S, I, F, 1982
A, S, I, F, W, 1983 NZ, 1984 S
31 Points: 32 (Eight tries)
- Mike and Eileen are reaching their 33rd anniversary. They have two
children, Sarah and David. Following in Dad's footsteps as a rugby player,
David is currently a fly half in his third year as a professional with the
Irish provincial side
A percentage of the sale price of each item sold on this page is donated to the Wooden Spoon Society, Mike is the chairman of the Merseyside branch .............
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