Although a few inter-part practice games were played at Saldanha, the first important fixture with a South African team was fulfilled during the 1st Xl's visit to Johannesburg.
From Johannesburg, the team joined the ship at Durban and the first match there was played on April 5th. The opponents, Berea Park, who were the previous year's league winners, beat Vanguard by five goals to three but this score rather belied the true state of affairs. The ship's goalkeeper was hard pressed in the first half, stemming almost single handed the constant attack of the opposing right wing whose speed and accurate centering caused the dislocation of the defence. A 'second half' rally, however, yielded Vanguard three goals.
On Sunday, April 6th, the 1st XI made a short excursion to Pietermaritzburg to meet a local team in what proved to be a fast open battle, probably the best game of the tour. The result was a draw 2 - 2.
It was then back to Cape Town for the official opening of the season and VANGUARD was more in her element against a Navy side from Simonstown on April 16th. This resulted in an easy win of eight goals to two.
A Western Province XI was invited to play at Hartlevale on April 19th, when the ship's team showed themselves plucky in defence against a side that was obviously superior.
Two day's later, a Royal Navy side, with eight members of VANGUARD's lst XI included, went down heavily against the Railways and Tramways Combined XI to a score of 2-9. Both of these matches were in part charity games and the British Flood Relief Fund consequently benefited by £200.
One Crowded Hour of Glorious Life
The ship's 1st XI football team left by train for Jo'burg on 25th March to play two 'soccer' matches in the Transvaal and to fulfil a multitude of social engagements. The team was composed of S.P.O. Stewart, C.E.R.A. Rees, Chief Mechanician Burrage, P.O. Burns, S.P.O. Budd, Leading Seaman Watson, Leading Telegraphist Howe, Leading Stoker Jones, A.B. Riva, A.B. Jones, Telegraphist Woodgate, Stoker Buzzing, and Ordinary SeamanTreagus. The party, which was accompanied by Chief P.T.I. MacDonald, was under
the command of Lieut.-Commander Hart. The team arrived on the evening of 26th March, and was taken to an army camp where accommodation had been arranged.
During the six days of their visit the team were treated more as the 'Andrew's' ambassadors than as a 'soccer' team, as the following will show :-
Thursday, 27th March
A meeting with the Mayor of Johannesburg was followed by a charabanc tour of the city. A film show at the Colosseum Theatre in the evening.
Friday. 28th March
Training. Cars arrived to take party to Rustenburg, a town some 80 miles from Jo'burg. On arrival they were met by Deputy Mayor and taken to cocktail party.
Saturday, 29th March
A visit to a platinum mine. They were entertained by Rustenburg hosts and hostesses and a dance at the platinum mine followed in the evening.
Sunday 30th March
A short service at a local beauty spot 'The Kloof' was followed by braaivleis lunch and a scratch game of 'soccer' in the long grass. They then returned to Jo'burg by car.
Monday, 31st March
Training. In the early evening, party were taken to a hotel for a darts match, supper and a dance.
Tuesday. 1st April
A little gentle training in the morning and a match against Southern Transvaal at Wembley Stadium in the afternoon. Vanguard lost by four goals to one. All sorrows were obliterated in the evening when the team painted the town a deep shade of pink.
The team left Jo'burg on Wednesday morning and arrived in Durban at 0700 on Thursday.
About f200 was raised for the National Navy Week from the soccer match.
Vanguard's cricket 1st XI fulfilled engagements in South Africa with two matches in Port Elizabeth and one in Durban. All three games were lost, not because the team played badly, but simply because the sides which opposed them were superior.
In the match against Durban, the team put up what was probably its best performance and were opposed by a side drawn almost entirely from the Champion Province (corresponding to Yorkshire County). After making 88 on a sticky wicket, seven of the opposition were out for 83 before control of the game was lost. Once again, it was the fielding which caused the trouble. It was brilliant to start with but after a dropped catch the game was lost.
This match certainly bore out the saying that good fielding makes bad bowling look good, while bad fielding makes good bowling look bad.
It is worth mentioning that the team's successes off the field were probably greater than those on: this fact should not be overlooked considering the nature of the trip.
In South Africa, Vanguard's shooting team fired a total of 14 matches against 21 teams, out of which they won five matches, and beat nine teams.
Everywhere they were met with keen competition from both service and civilian teams. Conditions varied considerably and as a rule the terms of the local team and their choice of practice were accepted.
Almost all Vanguard's opponents were equipped with packed rifles which were their own private property. This proved a serious handicap when practices to be carried out were deliberate target shoots, but when her opponents could be persuaded to shoot rapid and snap, Vanguard was usually able to hold her own.
The size of the team varied from eight to 12 and was selected from a group of about 20 officers and ratings. The regular shots were Sergeant Synnott, Marine Jones, Chief Petty Officer Cooper, Midshipman Mackay, Mr. Motteram, Leading Seaman Coles, Lieut.-Commander Pope, Instructor Lieutenant Chinery, Commander (S) Dunn, and E.R.A. Mathews. Corporal Wilkinson and Ordinary Seaman Bacon also spent many afternoons in the butts.
Over the whole period the four best shots were Sergeant Synnott, Lieutenant-Commander Pope, Marine Jones, and Instructor Lieutenant Chinery.