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Cardiff Hero of 1953 Dies

11th March 2005

Geoff Beckingham, the Cardiff and Wales international forward of the 1950s, has died at the age of 80.

Beckingham played 331 games for the Blue & Blacks and won three caps for Wales against England and Scotland in 1953 and France five years later. He was also an international reserve for several seasons to the Newport and British Isles’ hooker, Bryn Meredith. His finest hour came in November 1953 when he was the unsung hero of his club’s legendary 8-3 victory over the All Blacks.

The match is remembered for two text-book tries by the Cardiff backs, spearheaded by Cliff Morgan and Bleddyn Williams, in the opening 20 minutes. On both occasions it was Beckingham’s clean striking in the scrums that set up swift ball for the backs to exploit. Equally crucial was his skill at the final three scrums of the game as the All Blacks camped on Cardiff’s line and threatened to snatch a draw. Against all odds the hooker stole their put-in to the third of those scrums and Cliff Morgan cleared to the safety of touch as the final whistle was blown.

Beckingham, who also played in the Cardiff team that beat the Wallabies in 1957, was a proud son of Barry where he worked as a municipal gardener. He put his fitness down to the fact there was only one lawn mower for all of the town’s parks and he was pushing it for 15 hours a day in the height of summer. In retirement he still lived on Barry Island where he became a champion of the allotment owners in their campaign to retain their land and hobby despite the introduction of new by-laws.