What a wonderful life – Eric Archer 1920 – 2017


I would firstly like to record a few words about Eric Archer the family man, and the Archer Family. It has been a privilege to have known Eric and Ruth Archer and their family for over 50 years. I really got to know Eric and Ruth when I worked for my brother building houses in Mountain View Park. Eric would occasionally stop of on the way home and have a chat with Eric Finucane, my brother Sean and myself. I can remember Robin being a young teenager and he would be with Eric. The first thing Robin would do is hop onto the dumper and imagine he was driving around Brands Hatch.   I would regularly meet and chat with Eric and Ruth in Flynn’s Supermarket. Ruth was always cheerful and full of chat. Over the years I got to know Robin and Derek particularly well, and also occasionally met Douglas, Gillian, and Yvonne. Eric and Ruth reared a wonderful family and they have been very fortunate to have all their family members living close by.

I would now like to address Eric Archer the Rugby Legend. As Jack McVitty would say ‘One of the all time Greats’.

Eric was one of the founding members of Greystones RFC. When he was a 17 year old back in the Summer 1937, Eric along with Leslie Doyle, Donal O’Sullivan and Billy Dennehy discussed the possibility of forming a rugby club in Greystones. They formed the club and organised a pitch with  Mr Emerson of the Burnaby Estate.  The original pavilion was a hockey pavilion. They agreed to rent the land for 4 Pounds per season. They needed someone with experience at running a rugby club, and at the time Dr JJ Hickey had just retired to Greystones and was former President of  Malayan Rugby Football Union. Dr Hickey became the first President of Greystones RFC, and was President from 1937 until 1963. Hence the name Dr Hickey Park. Since those early days Eric continued to be involved in the club. He got more involved in the club in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. He was President for season 1976-1977 and 1977-1978. Most famously Eric was president in season 1977-1978 when Greystones became a Senior Club. Eric famously said ‘Yes I was President for those 2 years, in fact I made such a bags of it in the first year I had to stay on for a second’ He also said ‘Getting senior status was a big achievement, I think that’s the reason I lost my hair’. Greystones won the Fox Cup in Eric’s second year as President and I was privileged to be a member of that team. I can remember clearly the post match celebrations with Eric and the team in  the Berni Inn that went on well into the night.

Greystones prospered as a Senior Club in the 1980’s and 1990’s. and had a large number if International players, Tony Ward, Johnnie Robbie, Paul McNaughton, Johnny Murphy, Nickey Popewell, Tony Doyle, Spud Murphy. Reggie Corrigan, and Pieter Muller(South Africa) .During this particular period Eric travelled the length and breadth of the country following the first team and  they were one of the top teams in the country participating in Division 1 of the AIL. It was on these trips that Eric formed lasting friendships with numerous members and alecadoos of other clubs throughout the whole country, From City of Derry in the north to Shannon in Munster.  Eric was so popular and well known that he was presented with club ties of practically every club in Ireland. All you had to do when you visited Eric was to go into his study where there were drawers full of club ties.   Also on  the top of the cabinet bottles of whiskey to be seen, forcing Eric to joke ‘ It’s a wonder I am still here for the amount of that stuff I have  drunk’ Eric did enjoy his tipple but he retained his ability to laugh at himself.

Eric had many friends over the years. There are three particular friendships that Eric had and I want to briefly mention. The first one was the friendship with  Eric Cole. They travelled together to all the matches in the AIL and were known everywhere as the two Erics, and everywhere they went they were treated like Royalty. The second friendship was with Ned Van Esbeck the legendry rugby correspondent of The Irish Times. They were too opposites Ned was tea total and Eric enjoyed his tipple and both enjoyed the banter.  Recently Eric told me how he used to enjoy the meeting up Ned and having convivial chats about rugby and the host of Irish Internationals that represented Greystones over the years.  The third friendship was the long friendship that Eric had with Eddie O’Dwyer They were friends for a very long time Eddie was a very regular visitor to the Archer House particularly over the last few years. Eric just told me a few weeks ago how beneficial that friendship was to Greystones RFC. The contribution that Eddie O’Dwyer made is immeasurable. Eddie built and donated the stand to Greystones RFC and Dwyer Nolan Developments were the clubs main sponsor for years. Both Eric and Eddie are Life Members of Greystones RFC.

Eric had a special attachment to Rathdrum RFC. Eric supported the club when it was set up and developed many friendships in that club over the years. He was an Honarary Life Member of that club.

A number of years ago The Venerable Edgar Swan, former Archdeacon in Greystones Church of Ireland, decided to have some fun by writing a reference for Eric. It Read

‘I have known Eric for 27 years during which time I have found him to be an absolute pillar of society.’ I have at no time had reason to issue a writ of excommunication against him as to his probity of life and sobriety. I have no difficulty in testifying to the fact that I have never seen him under the effects of alcohol. And I am not aware of any indiscretions with regard to the female population of Greystones’

Eric was not only an integral part of the rugby club, but also to the town itself. For example a recent letter was sent to Eric simply addressed Eric Archer Greystones. It got to him no problem. . .  that says it all.

Fran Nolan

President Greystones RFC 2017/18

Spread the news: