Greg Wand (far left) with the Old Citizens in 1954
Greg Wand (1931-2008)
One of the last links with Old Citizen post-war Fives has been lost with the sad death of Greg Wand just before his 77th birthday.
After leaving City of London, he often recalled how the older players, particularly 'B J' Garrett and 'Floater' Hawken subsidised him and others to enable recent leavers to meet any expenses for matches both at home and away. Certainly, no youngster was allowed to buy a round of drinks! In later years Greg took great pleasure in showing similar unstinting generosity to newer generations.
It was a casual remark by Greg, realising that the Old Citizens were noted for weekend tours, that led him to suggest a visit to Zuoz College, Switzerland. 'B J' and 'Floater' told him to arrange the match, promising that they and others would fulfil it. And so it was that in 1954 there began the legendary trips to Zuoz, though ironically, Greg himself could never be available for the fixtures.
With a talent for music, Greg won a Choral Scholarship at City of London, where he also developed a lifelong passion for sport. He was in the 1st XV, the 1st XI at both cricket and hockey and the 1st 1V at Fives; he became hon. secretary for both Fives and PT; he represented the school in boxing and athletics and he was the Senior Gymnastics Champion; he represented his house in swimming and cross country and was awarded house colours. As if these achievements were not sufficient, Greg was a prefect, sang in the school choir and performed in the school plays. He was on the committee for the Scientific Society, the Library and Dance. The CCF saw him as a Staff Sergeant and he achieved the rating of 2nd class shot.
Army service gave Greg his first view of life abroad and he enjoyed postings to Aden and Jordan, where he was impressed with Field Marshall Montgomery and the vivid landscapes of the desert.
Back in London, he started his career with Dunlop and he was soon enjoying travelling the Colonial shores of Ceylon on the rubber plantations and the clubs and social scenes that were so colourful at the time. He played cricket for a Colombo team and would often recall sipping pink gins after a game of golf before staggering home under the stars! There in Ceylon Greg met Jane. They married and Jacqueline was born soon after. Before long, they were back on board a boat for a short placing in Pakistan before returning to England to make a home in Hampton-in-Arden. Their son Toby followed and in 1965 an opportunity arose to open an office for Dunlop in Sweden, where the family then enjoyed skating on the frozen archipelago and exploring the more remote islands during the weekends. In 1970, the family returned home to Gerrards Cross.
In London, Greg met Bridget and there followed happy days in Hampshire where Christopher and Vanessa were born. In a large garden Greg watched all the wildlife and grew vegetables and flowers. His idea of teaching his children to swim was to throw them in the sea at the age of two and watch them thrash until they floated! During this time, he revelled in overseas business trips and was as much at home in the souks and bazaars of the Middle East as he was in the mountains of Afghanistan or the shores of Lake Nakura in Africa. Dunlop seemed like a family affair with its many friends, arenas and travels. At this time, a highlight for him was always the Le Mans 24-hour race, as was his being spun round the Donington Park track on the back of Barry Sheen's motorbike.
As a family, the Wands enjoyed long, adventurous holidays through Europe and both North and South America, while at home Greg delighted in Bridget's golf success and in her deep knowledge of music and the arts. Golf was a shared love of the extended family and both Greg and Bridget enjoyed mixed golf at Ganton and Stratford.
During his retirement, Greg enjoyed watching cricket, while also confessing to his not being able to see the ball at times. The atmosphere and camaraderie gave him much pleasure in recent years, including his setting off with three generations of Wands for the day to either Lords or Edgbaston. When England were away the radio earpiece would remain in place all night as he listened to the highs and lows of the game. Days out at Twickenham and Wimbledon were other favourites.
Greg faced major medical difficulties in the last twenty years, but his grit, determination and passion for life were stronger than all prognoses and he was determined to live life to the full. He went on trips to Scotland and Norway and regaled all-comers with splendid descriptions of the wonders he had seen.
It was fitting that Greg died with a champagne glass in hand at his birthday party, surrounded by all his family. He had often said to his children "Life is very short; make sure that you make the most of every second."
As anticipated, there was a huge attendance at St James' Church in Alveston for the funeral service at which moving tributes were paid – Greg's loyalty to family, friends and business associates; his wisdom, which he shared with all around him; his passion for sport and his communication skills – he had worked and travelled all over the world and could relate as well in a boardroom in Japan as to a young student behind a bar and to his beloved grandchildren.
One of Greg's last wishes was a generous donation to the EFA, for which we are extremely grateful and our condolences go to all his family.