Tony Gadsby Peet
Tony Gadsby Peet, known to all as TGP, died on November 24th 2015, leaving a void in the heart of the club.
Jen, his wife, should have the first word. “Tony was a larger than life character in every way, a man of integrity and steadfastness whose good northern common sense, strong moral code and calm judgement will be hugely missed, not only by his family but by everyone who knew him. And of course, we all know he loved a good party!”
A proud Yorkshireman, he was born in 1954 - in Manchester, to his dismay. Quickly putting that accident of geography to rights he was brought up in Bradford by his father, an eminent surgeon, and his Conservative Councillor mother. They say we are all products of our background and environment and didn’t TGP prove the truth of that? (With his two brothers) He attended Bradford Grammar School and then went on to Trinity College, Oxford to do PPE, which confirms his very high intellect but also might suggest he hadn’t a clue what to do in later life.
Mind you, he loved discussion, words and books anyway so he was probably well in tune with his studies.
Staying for the moment at BGS his rugby there deserves further scrutiny. He was second row for the Firsts in 72/73 and skippered that side to an undefeated season. Take a look at the stats:- P 20, W 20, D 0, L 0, F 593, A 98. And looking through the records he scored in practically every game, sometimes more than once, and there’s even a conversion listed.
His then coach said of him “The team was led by M.A.G. Peet in the second row.
He works hard at his game, demands much of himself and much of those around him.
It was the finest team since the war, and the rugby was always purposeful.”
He played at Oxford, but didn’t get a Blue. Jen suspects beer, fags and women caught his attention. He came to London in 1976 as a graduate trainee with Haymarket Publishing for a couple of years, and subsequently moved over to Scottish Television for another year or two, then on to Marvel Comics – at first glance an unlikely berth for a PPE graduate, even though it did provide stacks of comics for his sons. But it was the start of his very successful career in product licensing.
TGP met Jen in a pub in Lancaster Gate in 1977, at a Tuesday night Oxford University drinking club, and they were married in 1981. James was born in 85, Edward in 86 and William in 90. The family lived in South Ealing until 1994, then moved to their current home in Hanwell. In the late 80s he had joined IMG to continue his work in licensing and it proved to be his commercial home for 15 years. He travelled the world, frequently and widely, and his association with the US company and founder Mark McCormack led to his enduring love of NFL American Football, and baseball.
Having said that he was passionate about all sports.
When his mentor McCormack died TGP found himself in a new IMG culture not much to his liking, and he eventually took redundancy, spending the remainder of his career in various consultancy roles. Recently he had been active with a company which offers modular hotel rooms delivered on the back of a truck, when and to where they are needed, for example at motor racing circuits or major golf tournaments.
Going back to his rugby life, he had played socially at Marlow and at the Honourable Artillery Company, and also Sunday League cricket. A friend suggested to him he come down to Richmond and consider the Minis for his sons, and the phrase ‘like a duck to water’ would be appropriate at this point in 1992 for them all. He quickly became involved as a coach, then as a co-ordinator, and then on to County duties with the Middlesex Youth Committee.
Jen started helping in the club shop at the same time, more recently running club admin, and the Gadsby Peet involvement was even featured on a Sky TV piece on families in rugby in 1994.
The RFC Board had marked TGP’s interest, enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the game, and also taken note of his wealth of contacts and wide experience with IMG, so in the years following the slip on the banana skin of professionalism and the subsequent fall from grace, his contribution to helping resurrect the club was appreciated and culminated in his appointment to a commercial role and a Board appointment in 2004. He has also been an outstanding RFC Disciplinary Officer demonstrating a deep understanding of the rules and regulations and how they should be sensibly applied, allied to an unerring ability to get to the heart of the matter.
Off the field he was a devoted MCC member, and a keen golfer at his club, Denham. He showed a real interest in everybody and everything, and was particularly enthusiastic about French food and wine – a true bon viveur.
The bar in the clubhouse will be a quieter and an emptier place without a character who was larger than life in all sorts of ways. But it’s appropriate to end this short piece on TGP by going back to his love of rugby, and to the glory days of his BGS unbeaten side. This was said of him –
“He has earned the respect of the whole team both as a player and as a captain.
He has coupled his height and strength in the second row with considerable and at times truly amazing mobility in the loose. His qualities of leadership both on and off the field have maintained team spirit at a very high level.”
For a true rugby man it’s not a bad epitaph, is it?