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Liverpool, England & British Lions

            Mike Slemen threading his way gracefully down the left wing was a sight that warmed the hearts of England and Lions supporters between 1976 and 1984.  The Liverpool wing was an automatic choice for the 1980 Lions tour to South Africa and wore the England number 11 shirt 31 times – a then record for an England flyer - between the retirement of David Duckham and the advent of Rory Underwood. He was an ever-present in the side that took the 1980 Grand Slam and later, in 1994, took charge of the coaching of the England backs as part of Geoff Cooke’s successful management team.

          Educated in Liverpool at St Edward’s College, his first loves were cricket and football. He spent three years in the school first XI as a quick bowler whilst in winter he played Sunday-League football in that soccer-mad city before forcing his way into his school’s first XV in his last year there.

          He was a scrum-half in those days, but soon outgrew the position, reaching 6 foot before he left to study pharmacy at Aston University . Even so, the skills that had made him a more-than-useful soccer player were to underpin his emergence as a versatile rugby player who was equally at home at fly-half or full-back.

          He spent a year studying at Aston before transferring to St Luke’s College down in Exeter . At St Luke’s he vied with future England #10 Neil Bennett for the fly-half berth, but despite a stunning performance during an Easter tour match at Llanelli he later settled on the wing, the position where he was to quickly become recognised as one of the most promising players in the country. He played for Devon in the County Championship during his student days and gained his first national recognition in his last year as a student, playing for England under-23s against the touring Tongans.

          After St Luke’s he successfully applied for a teaching post at Merchant Taylors’, Crosby , returning to his roots. He resumed his club rugby with the Liverpool club and quickly gained selection for Lancashire and the North. His first full England cap came in 1976 when he was called up to replace David Duckham against Ireland .

          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 England side, tasting the joys of victory and the despair of defeat.

          His first major tour was with the England side coached by Mike Davis and led by Bill Beaumont that visited the Far East and Pacific Islands in the summer of 1979.  Mike Slemen had already turned down lucrative offers from Barrow and Widnes to play rugby league before going on tour and playing in six of the seven matches, including the four non-cap Tests.

          He hit the ground running, scoring two tries in the tour opener against Japan B in Tokyo ’s Olympic Stadium where the tourists won 36-7.  His second try in that match was the result of a clever piece of anticipation. The ball went loose from a long pass into the midfield, but reading the bounce perfectly he stepped in from the left wing, gathered it and sprinted through. In scoring, however, he injured his leg. (The in-goal areas in Japan were very narrow and sliding through to score he slipped of the turf and into a tartan running track adjacent to the dead-ball-line).

          He thus missed the pleasures of downtown Tokyo when the squad ventured onto the bullet train on their first Saturday in Japan , but he did recover quickly enough to play in the first international against Japan on the Sunday. The tourists struggled to win 21-19, only a last-minute Dusty Hare conversion saving England from the ignominy of a draw.  Clive Norling accompanied the Englishmen on this tour as referee, but it was another Welshman’s deep accent that cut through the crowd to say (inaccurately as it turned out), as the relieved visitors trooped off: “You might just about manage this lot, but it’ll be 1990 before you beat us.”

          Normal service was resumed in mid-week when England thrashed an undersized Kyushu selection 80-3, Mike scoring a handsome hat-trick of tries. That was the famous occasion on which Bill Beaumont, his side 32-3 up at half-time, told his charges: “Come on lads, don’t let it slip now.”

          For the second Japan test England redeemed some lost esteem with a comfortable 38-18 win, but the ball did not run Mike’s way, a story that was to be repeated in the 19-7 victory over Fiji when the party moved south for the second half of the tour.  The visit ended in Tonga with a 37-17 win after a decidedly shaky start. The English backs gave plenty of possession away and one correspondent was moved to write, “The only England backs who seemed capable of doing the basic things well were Hignell and Slemen.”

            Tonga led for part of the first half and were only five points adrift with ten minutes to go before Mike, who had opened the scoring, crossed for his second try of the game. That score heralded a late flurry of 15 points that cemented England ’s victory.

          Although the tourists returned with their 100% record intact, few felt that England had grown sufficiently in stature to pose a threat when the 1980 Five Nations season came round. Confidence, it was true, had been gained on tour, but English rugby had suffered a long period of disappointment since last securing the Championship title in 1963 and few predicted that a champagne season was about to follow.

          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 England and Scotland in the autumn of 1979 when, on a grey Saturday in November at Cross Green, Otley, they were outplayed to the tune of 21-9 by the Northern Division. It was a wonderful shot in the arm for English rugby. The technical efficiency of the North’s forwards undermined the much-vaunted New Zealand pack, and the purposeful play of the home backs enabled them to build an unassailable 17-3 lead. Mike didn’t manage to get on the score-sheet for this game, but his defence as an auxiliary full-back was superb and he played a crucial part in the game’s decisive try.

          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 Blacks.

          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 coasted past Ireland with a 24-9 win on the opening Saturday of the Five Nations season. He put the world-class mark on everything he did that afternoon, taking his chance brilliantly to capitalise on a Steve Smith blind-side break to put England ahead with a try just before half-time.  Defence was his order in the more hard-fought victories over France in Paris and Wales at Twickenham, but he was on the score-sheet again in the Grand Slam decider at Murrayfield in March. Clive Woodward had an outstanding first half that afternoon and put Mike in for England ’s second try as the champions accelerated into a 16-0 lead. England ’s final margin was 30-18, a fitting way to round off their first Grand Slam since 1957.

          1980 was also a Lions year, the famous tourists setting out for South Africa under the captaincy of Bill Beaumont, the first Englishman to lead the tourists for 50 years. The champion country was well represented, ten of the Grand Slam side accompanying the Lions. Mike was a first-choice for the tour and was described by the doyen of South African critics, Reg Sweet of the Durban Daily News, as “unquestionably the most talented all-rounder of all.”

          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 England career, was also involved in the memorable try scored by Huw Davies that afternoon.

          He lost his place in the England side in 1982-83 but bounced back the next season to become England ’s most-capped wing. He took part in a famous victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham where the late Maurice Colclough, his old Northern Division chum and another with Liverpool connections, scored England ’s decisive try. Then, after a defeat at Murrayfield in the opening match of the 1984 Five Nations, he lost his place to Rory Underwood.

          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 coaching. 

          He played his last first-class match in May 1986, leading Liverpool against Preston Grasshoppers. Fittingly, it was the last match played on his club’s grounds, for the next season the club merged with St Helen’s. Mike was to give many years to the coaching at LSH’s Moss Lane HQ before joining the England coaching set-up in the 1990s. During England ’s Golden Era in international rugby Mike’s quiet authority and intelligence commanded huge respect among the back division that he directed.

          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 England threequarter line of all time.







We are proud to be have been 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 was donated to the rugby charity Wooden Spoon Society, of which Mike is the President of the Merseyside branch. Below is the selection of memorabilia we found a 'good home' for. 









The Under 23 team played two matches in 1974, against the North of England which was a warm up match for the international against Tonga. This Under 23 jersey by Umbro is size 42", there is some light staining. Seen in the pohoto with the jersey is the match programme for both of the games and an England Under 23 tie awarded to players who played in these matches. 





England Under 23 tracksuit top by Adidas



 39-b.jpg (285877 bytes) 39.jpg (229970 bytes) FRANCE v ENGLAND 1976 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 37 signatures in total on back cover and middle pages, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 





A England players blazer with RFU wire rose badge. This was of one Mike's first England blazers, the blazer is by Hepworths. Mike's first cap was at Twickenham against Ireland in 1976. 



F-77.jpg (76282 bytes) 49.jpg (219377 bytes) ENGLAND v FRANCE 1977 - French Grand Slam season - fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 35 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 





This jersey was worn by Gerald Davies in the 1977 Triple Crown fixture against England, a 14 - 9 victory for Wales. Although Wales still needed to play Scotland this was in fact the Triple Crown deciding match. England travelled to Cardiff needing to win this fixture to secure the Crown for themselves, having already defeated both Ireland and Scotland, Tries by Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams clinched the Welsh victory. The jersey is by Umbro, size O-S. 


36-b.jpg (48670 bytes) 36.jpg (276250 bytes) WALES v ENGLAND 1977 - Welsh Triple Crown season fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 30 signatures in total, 29 players on the centre pages and Max Boyce on the front cover. Please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 


S-77.jpg (39571 bytes) 42.jpg (217757 bytes) ENGLAND v SCOTLAND 1977 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 30 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 


I-78.jpg (37599 bytes) 47.jpg (236691 bytes) ENGLAND v IRELAND 1978 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 32 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 


E-78.jpg (34294 bytes) 37.jpg (293665 bytes) SCOTLAND v ENGLAND 1978 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 39 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 





An Argentina jersey from the 1978 tour, the jersey is by Noceto Sports/ Ms Hardy Brown, size 40" in excellent condition.



Arg-78.jpg (35918 bytes) 50.jpg (237197 bytes) ENGLAND v ARGENTINA 1978 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 37 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 



NZ-78.jpg (39447 bytes) 44.jpg (283249 bytes) ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND 1978 - All Black Grand Slam tour 1978 - a fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 53 signatures in total including 33 of the All Black squad and management, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 



F-79.jpg (37398 bytes) 48.jpg (262929 bytes) ENGLAND v FRANCE 1979 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 34 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 



s-79.jpg (38418 bytes) 41.jpg (251014 bytes) ENGLAND v SCOTLAND 1979 fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 35 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 




A collection of 5 jerseys relating to the England Grand Slam of 1980. After a disastrous decade in the 1970s Bill Beaumont's men came out in the 1980s fighting to regain the pride of a nation. And what a year it was, from the 24 - 9 victory over Ireland in opening match at Twickenham, where they scored as many points as they had in the previous season, to victories over Wales and France and the Grand Slam decider at Murrayfield where they run up their highest ever score against Scotland, winning 30 - 18. The 4 opposing team's jerseys in this collection were all traditionally swapped post match by Mike Slemen while the England jersey is one that belonged to Bill Beaumont, captain of the Grand Slam side. 


1980 Wales No 14 jersey - Elgan Rees

1980 France No 14 - Daniel Bustaffa

1980 Ireland No 14 - Terence Kennedy

1980 Scotland No 14 - Keith Robertson

1979 England No 4 - Bill Beaumont


Jersey information - Wales - Umbro, size O-S, France - maker & size unknown, label present but faded, Ireland - jersey by O'Neills, size 38-40" (97 - 102cm), Scotland - Umbro, size medium. England - the Bill Beaumont jersey is believed to be from the England v New Zealand match in 1979, it has been added to the Mike Slemen collection to compliment the full set of opposing jerseys obtained by Mike.


75-Ireland.jpg (27956 bytes) 72-Wales-1980.jpg (30469 bytes) 74-France.jpg (26882 bytes) 79-Scotland.jpg (26839 bytes) 69-england-shirt.jpg (40817 bytes) 66-england-shirt-back.jpg (67786 bytes) Beaumont pic from Who's who.jpg (57886 bytes)


I-80.jpg (28146 bytes) England v Ireland 19 Jan 1980 Dinner Menu  & Guest List, 12 Pages


E-81.jpg (50015 bytes) 38.jpg (286252 bytes) IRELAND v ENGLAND 1981 signed programme, most players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 32 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 





Wales No 10 jersey worn by Gareth Davies in the Wales v England match 1981, Umbro, size O-S. Wales won this match 21 - 19 with Davies dropping a goal. 







A No 11 jersey from the Australian tour of 1981-2. This jersey was swapped by Mike with Brendan Moon although Mike can't remember much, if anything about it. After an Andrew Slack high tackle Mike was forced to leave the field suffering from concussion - a jersey by Peerless, size OS in excellent condition.


I-82.jpg (35584 bytes) 46.jpg (275765 bytes) ENGLAND v IRELAND 1982 - Irish Triple Crown season - a fully signed programme, almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 40 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 





A 1983 Canada No 11 jersey. In a massive co-incidence the Canadian number 11 was Mike's former Liverpool club mate Cliff Jones in this non-cap international played in October 1983. Both players swapped jerseys after the game. Cliff was born in Liverpool 5th April 1954 and played for Liverpool RFC, he emigrated to Canada and played for Vancouver Rowing Club and British Columbia, the jersey is a Canterbury size 44" (112cm)


NZ-83.jpg (36255 bytes) 43.jpg (226233 bytes) ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND 1983 fully signed programme, an excellent 15 - 9 victory for England over the All Blacks. Almost all players and reserves from both teams have signed this programme, 42 signatures in total, please see illustration for the players who have signed this programme. 


W-90.jpg (39984 bytes) 40.jpg (202692 bytes) ENGLAND v WALES 1990 partly signed programme. The programme has been autographed by 18 members of the England team, autographs include Carling, Guscott, Rory Underwood and Skinner. Please see illustration for the other players who have signed this programme. 





England Rugby World Cup Blazer 1991. A blazer by Hammersley, size 40"L. crest embroidered onto pocket. 

Although not named in the final compliment of players and management for the 1991 Rugby World Cup, Mike was heavily involved with the build up on the coaching side of things. The 1991 tournament was hosted by England and they were to finish runners-up in a tournament won by Australia.


01-RWC-Final-tk.jpg (137905 bytes) 1991 Rugby World Cup Final ticket





An England tracksuit top by Nike circa early 1990s from Mike's coaching period with England, possibly from the 1991 or the 1992 Grand Slam Year, size Medium. 





England tour of Canada 1993 Blazer - A blazer by Alexandre of England, the blazer crest is embroidered directly onto the pocket, two Maple leaves underneath the Rose indicate the tour of Canada. Mike was a coach on this tour. During the tour Martin Johnson was called up for his first Lions (1993 Lions) tour. Mike related to me how Johnson found out about his call up for the tour................................. "we were told in the evening that Martin had been called up for the Lions tour, we searched high and low and couldn't find him anywhere. The next morning at the 'tour court' session we tried Johnson along with all the other transgressors. We deliberately made him wait and wait and wait and eventually we tried him for desertion. Peter Rossborough was prosecuting and he still didn't know he was going to be a British Lion. Anyway he was tried and found guilty of desertion, and the punishment banishment to New Zealand with the Lions, you should have seen his face !!!





England B  tracksuit top, circa 1990-92, made by Gymphlex (small B  embroidered under Rose)





RFU/England blazer, circa 1993 or 1994. A double breasted blazer by Burton, from Mike's coaching days with the England squad. 






England B tracksuit top made by Nike, approx 1990-92, size large, (large B embroidered under Rose) 





Blazer - RFU - 1993 or 1994,  double breasted.

RFU/England blazer, circa 1993 or 1994. A double breasted blazer tailor unknown, 100% pure new wool blazer, from Mike's coaching days with the England squad. 







1979 England tour of Fiji, Japan & Tonga players blazer. The blazer is by Hepworths, with a wire crest containing the English rose, RFU above the rose and tour information below. 




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A 1979 Fiji jersey that was exchanged with Fijian winger Joape Kuinikoro. during the 1979 tour, it is a Canterbury jersey, size O-S. the above picture shows Mike handing off a Fijian player during this game.





1979 Japan jersey from the 1979 England tour of that country, the jersey is by Sceptre, size unknown. 


ENGLAND JERSEY - tour of Japan, Fiji & Tonga 1979



An England jersey from the Fiji, Tonga & Japan tour of 1979, signed underneath badge by Mike Slemen, an Umbro shirt, size 42", some staining.




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An England team lambs wool pullover from the 1979 tour of Japan, Fiji & Tonga. As the team landed in Tokyo at the start of the tour Budge Rogers made the team put these pullovers on. As the players descended from the plane the heat and humidity soon hit them, the perspiration was excessive and several players voiced their disapproval. Budge however, would not budge and made the players keep them on !!!!! - size 40" in excellent condition. Pictured above is Budge Rogers with tour captain Billy Beaumont.


E-79.jpg (36682 bytes) Fiji v England 29 May Suva 7 - 19
35.jpg (134558 bytes) Tonga v England 1 Jun 1979 Teufaiva Park, Nuku'alofa 17 - 37
34.jpg (46052 bytes) Japan v England - 1st Test 13 May 1979 Osaka 21 - 19
33.jpg (91703 bytes) Kyushu v England 16 May 1979 Fukuoka 80 - 3
31.jpg (43294 bytes) Japan v England - 2nd Test 20 May 1979 Tokyo 38 - 18
30.jpg (53322 bytes) Japan Select (B) v England   10 May 1979 Tokyo 36 - 7


29.jpg (16683 bytes) Dinner Menu - a 4 page fold over menu card for the 'farewell dinner for England rugby team' held by the Japanese Rugby Union on 20th May 1979. This dinner was held after the 2nd Test with Japan on the tour. 


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Newspaper - Asahi Evening News with report of Japan v England 2nd Test 1979 on the back page, includes photo of Mike scoring a try. 







Because Mike played in only the one test and he retained his jersey he was unable to obtain a Springbok shirt for his collection. Knowing this, Syd Miller brought back this substitutes jersey and gave it to Mike after the tour. We are not sure who it belonged to but we do know that it is a test jersey from this series. This was the last Springbok team to defeat the Lions in a test series. The players that wore number 21 in the series are P Edwards & TMD Cocks, number 21 for the 3rd test is unlisted in the match programme. It is a 42" Maxmore jersey in excellent condition. 





A 1980 Lions to South Africa training shirt, embroidered sponsor's logo (Life - King Size Filter) & text "British Lions 1980 South Africa, 'Mike Slemen name sewn on as a patch, large 'Life' logo to reverse, jersey by Safnit, size 44", 





1980 British Lions Tracksuit - top & bottoms - an Umbro tracksuit, the top is roll neck, the bottoms are elasticated although the elastic seems to have disintegrated.





1980 Lions tour blazer + tie - tailored by Simon of Leeds & London, crest embroidered onto pocket.

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1980 Lions dress blazer & bow tie - tailored by Simon of Leeds & London, made to measure, crest embroidered onto pocket, includes British Lions buttons !!!! 



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Official Team Photograph - Devon team that played Somerset on 21st October 1972, some discolouration to bottom of photo.





Gloucestershire jersey by Umbro, a No 12 centre's jersey from the 1977 County Championship semi final, size 42", heavily stained.







On 9th February 1980 Lancashire were crowned County Champions when they dismissed Gloucestershire at the Vale of Lune ground. Mike scored a try (illustrated above) in this victory to take the score to 18 - 9, the red rose county eventually ran out winners 21 - 15 (match report - click here) . In the semi-final Lancashire had defeated Surrey easily 31 - 6 with Mike scoring one of the five tries. The jersey is a number 11, size 42".





A Lancashire blazer by John Leonard, badge sewn onto pocket. Mike played 10 seasons with the red rose county.


47-lancashire-pic.jpg (96421 bytes)  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.
46-lancashire.jpg (82481 bytes)  Photograph - Lancshire v Australia 1981, mounted on printed card, size 50cm x 40cm (20" x 16") with players named and match details, some slight staining to the mount.


99.jpg (70787 bytes)

Two Lancashire County Championship programmes - v Cumbria (4 Nov 1987) and Cheshire (14 Oct 1987)





A North Western Counties No 14 jersey, for Mike's first divisional match. The jersey is from the match against Australia in 1976. 






Game worn jersey - Midlands & North of England v Argentina 1976. The team was coached by Chalky White whose philosophy for this game was 'keep it close and under no circumstances run the ball'. This worked reasonably well and the Midlands & North were ahead when they were awarded a penalty. At this point Fran Cotton picked up the ball and took a quick penalty, the ball was spread out to Mike who scored in the corner, this was the North's only try of the game. The North & Midlands went on to win 24 - 9, the other points came from a dropped goal by John Horton and 5 penalties from the boot of Dusty Hare. 





A North Midlands jersey by Halbro from the Divisional Final, date unknown (Mike thinks that they won the final 4 - 3), size 42"






1978 Northern Division v New Zealand No 11 jersey worn against Graham Mourie's Grand Slam All Blacks. The North lost 9 - 6.





A Northern Transvaal jersey from the North Western Counties tour of South Africa 1979. Under the leadership of Des Seabrook the team moulded together into a potent fighting force, it laid the foundation for the great Northern Division victory over the All Blacks later in that year. The label is faded but intact.






Northern Division 21, New Zealand 9, the greatest victory by a non-international English side against the All Blacks. Bill Beaumont led a star studded side against Graham Mourie's test team at the Cross Green ground in Otley. This was the only defeat for the All Blacks on an 11 match tour of England and Scotland. The North triumphed 21 - 9 against the strong All Black opposition. At one time in the match they led 17 - 3 and the crowd chanted 'easy easy', Stu Wilson crossed for a try towards the end but the All Blacks were well and truly beaten.   

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John Reason's match report

The Northern Division v All Blacks 1979 collection includes:

No 11 Northern Division jersey (Bukta 40") as worn in the game by Mike Slemen

No 14 All Black jersey (Canterbury O-S) as worn  in the game by Stu Wilson

25th anniversary re-union commemorative brochure, video & programme reprint.





An All Blacks tracksuit top believed to be from the 1979 tour of England and Scotland, worn by the legendary Stu Wilson. Size 100cm, some very light staining to sleeves.





A size  40" team issue All Blacks pullover - believed to be from the 1979 tour - swapped by Mike Slemen with the legendary All Black winger Stu Wilson, pullover made by Kairanga, NZ





RFU - North of England blazer from Mike's coaching days - made to measure by Next, crest embroidered onto pocket.







Jersey - St Lukes 1971 - 1975, worn by Mike in club matches, a well worn jersey, the number 11 has some damage. 





A jersey from the Cheshire Centenary Fixture, Cheshire v International XV, the jersey is by 'In Touch', size unknown, signed by Mike under the badge. 


INTERNATIONAL XV (v St Luke's College 1978) JERSEY




A jersey from the International XV that playes St Luke's at Twickenham on 22nd March 1978. Mike scored 5 tries in this game wearing this jersey, made by Bukta, size 42". The match was to celebrate the history of St Luke's College, it was soon to become Exeter University. Mike attended St Luke's 1971 - 1975. He has signed the jersey to the front. Also included with the jersey is a copy of the official match programme.

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This jersey was awarded to Mike after the Barbarians v New Zealand match in 1978. Mike rates this game as one of the best he's played in, scoring a brace of tries. The match jerseys were retained by the Barbarian committee and the team were given an old set of jerseys, this is the one that Mike received, it is a Bukta jersey, No 13. Mike's first Barbarian appearance was in the 1973-74 season.





A No 11 England/Wales jersey worn by Mike in the Welsh Centenary fixture at Cardiff Arms Park. An Umbro jersey size O-S in excellent condition. The jersey has been signed to the front by Mike.




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Welsh President's XV 1981 jersey, This WRU Centenary match was played at Cardiff Arms park on 25th April 1981, it is an Umbro jersey, size XOSM, No 16 to reverse. Mike kept the reserves bench warm throughout the match so the jersey is unworn and in excellent condition. An additional item to the jersey is the official team presentation photograph awarded to each individual player.





A 1983 Western Province Centenary jersey, No 14 - the jersey is by Maxmore, size 40" (102cm) 




13.jpg (63085 bytes) 15.jpg (67087 bytes)


A 1983 Western Province President's XV jersey - slightly faded jersey from the Western Province Centenary tour of 1983, An Adidas jersey, size unknown, label in tact but faded. The jersey comes together with 2 programmes from the tour. SA President's XV v Western Province Pres XV, includes team photo with Mike in jersey on front cover and Western Province v WP President's XV which includes Mike playing in the No 11 jersey.





1983 Western Province Centenary tracksuit top as issued to Western Province Presidents XV for the tour in 1983, in excellent condition, an Adidas top, size 44"





Racing Club de France tracksuit, top & bottoms, size 180cm (approx 5' 11"). The tracksuit was swapped by Mike on the 1983 Western Province Centenary tour, possibly with Bertranne. 





A 1983 Western Province Centenary tour pullover, size 102cm (40") in excellent condition





A jersey from the Liverpool club and Mike's last match at the St Michaels ground in Liverpool. The Liverpool club merged with St Helen's RUFC to become Liverpool St Helen's.This last fixture for Liverpool as a stand alone club was against Preston Grasshoppers in May 1986 and fittingly as a loyal servant it was also Mike's last competitive match. The jersey is by Jack Sharp Sports Outfitters, size unknown, No 11





Ayr RFC centenary jersey - this jersey was swapped with Scotland wing Steve Munro in a match to celebrate Ayr RFC centenary. A number 11 jersey, size 42" 



13-03.jpg (35540 bytes) 1983 Western Province Centenary.  15.jpg (98433 bytes)

England players tour of Japan, Fiji & Tonga 1979. 

26.jpg (386246 bytes) 1979 tour of Japan, a gift tie to members of the team - possibly by Toyota. 
17.jpg (53125 bytes) 1981 England/Wales v Scotland/Ireland, Welsh centenary match, possibly a tie awarded to players only.  05.jpg (545475 bytes)

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1981 Welsh Rugby Union Centenary tie.  19.jpg (67773 bytes) Tie - 1991 RWC - England players tie, Mike was awarded this tie as he was part of the coaching set up in the lead up to the RWC. 
18.jpg (47149 bytes) Fiji tie, from 1979 tour.  22.jpg (560376 bytes) England Trial.  06.jpg (615473 bytes)

06-a.jpg (60871 bytes)

Lancshire Centenary tie. 
21.jpg (656772 bytes) Yorkshire.  25.jpg (64265 bytes) England Triple Crown 1980 - given to players but possibly also available for sale to general public.   08.jpg (398054 bytes) 08-a.jpg (33433 bytes)

This is possibly an Eastern Province, South Africa tie. 

28.jpg (42815 bytes) Russia tour of Britain 1989 tie.  27.jpg (42689 bytes) Wales players tie, circa 1980 - probably from Elgan Rees.  09.jpg (388327 bytes) 09-a.jpg (47321 bytes) A tie from the Argentinan tour of 1978. 
03.jpg (167695 bytes)

England B bow tie from the 19 92 tour of New Zealand.

02.jpg (327955 bytes) Japan from the 1979 tour.  12.jpg (77855 bytes)

North Western Counties of England, - a blue tie from the match with Australia in 1976. 

13.jpg (60585 bytes)

South African Rugby Association (Proteas) - from the 19 79 tour with the Northern Division. 

14.jpg (52746 bytes) South African tie unknown.  04.jpg (377516 bytes) 04-a.jpg (64934 bytes)

1980 England Grand Slam tie - given to players, possibly available for sale to general public. 

07.jpg (397841 bytes) Barbarians tie.  24.jpg (41839 bytes) Mike was awarded this tie for playing in a World XV against Argentina in aid of a flood disaster in that country, in the night out after the match Mike met the then foreign secretary Cecil Parkinson, but Parkinson wouldn't swap ties with Mike who describes it as 'the worst ever seen'. 

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 copies only. 




To view items remaining for sale in the collection please visit the Mike Slemen Collection on the Rugby Relics website. CLICK HERE


FURTHER READING - click on the image to enlarge the thumbnail. Articles courtesy of Rugby World


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rw-article-wings.jpg (120637 bytes) rw-article-wings02.jpg (171396 bytes) rw-84-02-p20.jpg (176411 bytes) rw-84-02-p21.jpg (183337 bytes)
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)



Born: 11 May 1951

Clubs: Liverpool , St Luke’s College

Debut: v Ireland , 6 March 1976

England 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

Caps: 31 Points: 32 (Eight tries)

Lions career: Toured South Africa with the 1980 side. Five matches (including the first Test).

Family - 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 Connacht . Previously he spent two seasons at the Harlequins.



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