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10th Jan 2017

Amazing letter proves you had to have real commitment to go on a Lions tour in 1929

This is unreal.

Patrick McCarry

The British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand will be one of the main sporting events of this summer.

Over the course of five weeks, the Lions will play 10 times in New Zealand with a three-test series near the tail-end of the gruelling itinerary.

Now that’s quite a long time for the players to be away from home all in one go.

Indeed, being away from home is one of the key sacrifices top level athletes have to make if they want to compete at the highest level.

From footballers to tennis players, cricketers to golfers and everything in between, being on the road a lot is simply unavoidable in elite sport.

Still, being away for just over a month is a far cry from how it used to be – as this letter from 1929 proves.

A preliminary call-up for the 1930 Lions tour, the letter makes clear the players will be away for a staggering SEVEN MONTHS.

Of course these days, many top sports men and women get paid handsomely for the trouble of being away a lot, either through match fees and prize money or sponsorship and commercial deals.

Alas, not so in 1930 when the Lions players had to bring their own money with them to pay their way – “about £50 to £75 for incidental expenses”.

Back in 1930 there were 12 English players in the 29-man touring party, five Irish and a mixture of Scottish, Welsh and uncapped but promising club players.

Led by England’s Doug Prentice, the Lions lost the Test Series 3-1 to the Kiwis and 1-0 to Australia. Then it was back on the boat and homeward bound.