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9" Lions Barry John
The Return of the Grogg King
50 years ago Barry John played his final international for Wales in Cardiff against France. The World of Groggs has chosen this timely date to launch a new Limited Edition figure of “The King”.
In 1971 my Father made the big move from his “two sheds” in Treforest to the Danygraig Arms on the Broadway and the Groggshop was born. One year later the world’s first rugby superstar retired from the game at the age of only 27. Dubbed “The King” following Wales’ Grand Slam and the British and Irish Lions only test series victory over New Zealand in 1971, Barry John was to play only one more season for Wales. In 1972, after beating England, Scotland and France Barry hung up his boots for the last time. The sporting world was left in shock by his decision, but fame had impacted on the Cefneithin born fly half to such a degree he felt he had no other option than to quit the game he loved. Only a year into Dad’s own momentous decision to open a studio pottery we were all taken by surprise by Barry’s life changing call. My father had got to know the mercurial fly half after meeting him at Bruno’s Cafe on the Broadway in Treforest where he had a chance to talk to the genius who was about to unpick the Mighty All Blacks in their own back yard. Barry was kind enough to encourage Dad in his madcap scheme of making rugby figures from clay and was the first Welsh player to visit the dilapidated premises just 100 yards up the road and give “Project Groggshop” his approval. Encouraged by this my father made the first Barry John Grogg.
3rd photo - One of our first pieces of memorabilia - Barry's sock from the 4th test in New Zealand 1971.
As all Grogg collectors now know Barry didn’t exactly make a great subject for a clay caricature. No broken nose, no giant moustache or huge headband, Barry was more Matinee idol than classic rugby player but Dad did his best to wrestle with his enigmatic features. The gentleman he was, Barry never complained about our efforts as the baton was passed on to me at the tender age of 17. I also struggled to capture Wales’s elusive genius….. but I never gave up trying. 50 years on, after discovering some new photographs of Barry in his heyday something in my head clicked and I decided to give it one more shot. Word from the great man himself was encouraging describing “Work in progress” pictures of the new figure as the best Grogg of him so far. I was delighted with his reaction. As always it’s my goal to please the subject and from someone as important as “The King” I couldn’t ask for better feedback.
My only regret as a rugby supporter was never seeing Barry play, his retirement coming just before Dad bought our debentures at the National Stadium. The closest I came was a Charity match in Ynysangharad Park where a Barry John XV took on a Pontypridd XV. At the last minute Barry had to bow out with an injury but he did kick off the game in his normal clothes and shoes. For me that counts….. I saw the King kick a rugby ball…. what more can you ask?
Limited Edition of 500.
Priced at £125 plus £6.00 P+P UK Next Day Delivery (If in stock & ordered before 2pm - inscriptions 1-2 days extra) / Worldwide Postage £60.