December 15th 1919

The revival of the Varsity Rugger Match, on 9th December 1919, saw the publication of ‘The Life of Ronald Poulton.’ The book is the loving and devoted work of his father.

To all people he was known as a great football player, perhaps the finest, certainly the most electrifying, three-quarter of any age…

But, as the pages of his life make clear to those who did not know, football occupied a very small part of his time and thoughts.  He regarded it as a great and glorious pastime, and nothing more. He could never regard it as an occupation worthy of a man’s whole devotion. Even on the night before an international match he would be more interested in wandering about the worst slums of Notting Dale than of thinking of what lay before him on the morrow…

It was too much to hope that the war would spare him. He went to France counting the cost, knowing that he had little chance of returning. He loved life, and hated the whole ghastly business of war, but he felt that it was his duty to go, that England might be somehow a better place for those who came after. And then – a stray bullet – and all was over.

Ronald Poulton went out to fight, to make England a better place. Will it be? It will be either better or much worse; if worse, then all the sacrifice will have been in vain…

What he would have done had he lived it is impossible to say… Though his views were still unsettled, they were taking shape. He was gravely dissatisfied with the relations of Capital and Labour; he was aghast at the social conditions of our big cities, horrified by the misery, crime, disease, waste. What an ugly contrast it all made with the New Jerusalem, with its happiness and spacious buildings and shining streets!

He would not have rested without trying with all his strength to do something, and others would have followed him…

It is because he had this rare and splendid gift for loving and for inspiring love, this magnetic influence and power of attraction, that his death has been no ordinary calamity.

But at least we can thank God that he lived and that he was what he was, bringing joy and sunshine and happiness to all who knew him. And if we keep his memory before us, as this book will help us to do, we shall be able to do our work with a stouter heart and a deeper vision, and to face the future with a brighter hope.

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