Obituary: Major Roy Warnford-Davis
Wednesday 27 April 1994
ROY WARNFORD-DAVIS was co-founder, with Jimmy Bishop, of the Tramps hockey club, one of the four great English touring hockey clubs formed between the wars.
The Tramps came about as the result of an invitation to a group of amateur hockey players known as the London Travellers, brought together by Bishop and Warnford- Davis to play a Sunday match in Boulogne in January 1928. They went over to France, on a tramp steamer, to play against the French Olympic team, and beat them 9-1. At a reunion dinner organised a month later, it was decided to rename the team the Tramps.
Along with the three other clubs founded at the same period - the Bacchanalians, the Hornets and the Ghosts - the Tramps successfully promoted the playing of hockey on Sundays (previously unheard of in England) and festival hockey at Easter. In the early years they played at the Easter festivals at Lowestoft and Weston-super-Mare, and from 1936 at Folkestone. They continued to play matches abroad, annually from the mid-1950s.
A useful defender in his playing days, Warnford-Davis was President of the club from 1928 to 1969. Known in hockey circles as 'King Tramp' or 'The King', he was successful in building up the club's capacity to field a strong side, and the membership of the club always included a number of internationals, including the British Olympic player Norman Borrett. The England cricket captains Freddie Brown and Norman Yardley also became members.
Warnford-Davis was a good all- round sportsman. For more than 60 years he was a leading light in the organisation of sporting fixtures for his fellow alumni of Bradfield College, of which, by the end of his life, he was the oldest old boy. He was successively Secretary and President of the Old Bradfieldian Squash Racquets Club, which he founded with Bruno Elgood.
A genial, good-natured character, Warnford-Davis was much ragged by fellow members of the Tramps for his inability to remember people's names and for his curious sartorial style. After Tramps' dinners, at which he invariably wore his club bow-tie upside down, he always spoke for half an hour at least, sometimes for considerably longer.
Away from the world of sport, Warnford-Davis was for many years a member of the St Marylebone Council, of which he became Deputy Mayor. As a director of the record company Decca in the inter- war years, he was one of the small group of executives responsible for selecting new artists for the label, including Gracie Fields.
During the Mesopotamian campaign of the First World War, Warnford-Davis was recommended for a Military Cross; and during the Second World War, by the end of which he had risen to the rank of Major in the Warwickshire Regiment, he was mentioned in despatches. In Abyssinia towards the end of the war, he was put in command of an Eritrean internment camp for Italian camp-followers, earning the nickname of 'Madam'.
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