09/07/24 | Obituaries

In Memory of Alan John Fraser Dackers – 13th June 1938 – 14th June 2024

Author: Peter Cornelia


At 1.30am on Friday 14th June, 2024, Alan John Fraser Dackers, bid farewell to his family and friends departing for the Lymm RFC Upper House. A man who relished life’s challenges and how to get the better of them, his passing was no exception. Thursday 13th June was his 86th birthday and all who knew DAX, would understand his determination to complete his milestone before moving on. True to his nature, he did with an hour and a half to spare. Jaye and Katy were there with him to bid farewell for all of us.

This is not an obituary but a memoriam to a great friend and mentor to many, particularly reflecting on his time at Birkenhead School, Lymm Grammar School and Lymm RFC. The memories and contributions below are not in any time or preference order. In addition there is a gallery of photographs provided by Jaye, Katy and others for all to view.

But first a little background prior to Dax’ arrival in Lymm RFC.

He was educated at Birkenhead School, where he first took up rugby. He then completed his National Service with the RAF before attending Loughborough College. Where possible, he travelled home each weekend to play for Old Birkonians. More information from Steve Rule about this period below. In September 1962, he joined Lymm Grammer School as a sports teacher, together with Head of Sport, Danny Harris. Here he met his lovely wife Anne, also a sports teacher. They married and settled down together in Lymm and started their family. Anne, in her own right, also became a great friend and mentor to many, (including Dax). They were a great team together throughout their lives. Anne was always there for support and guidance when needed and the pair were much respected and loved by all who knew them. See various memories below. By his own contribution to David Berry’s excellent book, ‘Out on a Lymm’, he tells in humorous fashion about his first ever game for Lymm in 1962, playing for the Extra B XV. It reads like a chapter from Michael Green’s book, ‘The Art of Course Rugby’, pub stops en route, etc., etc.

He was still a loyal old boy playing for Old Birkonians but he did have one more game for Lymm in 1963/64 season, scoring 4 tries for the 1stXV. However in 1964 he joined Sale FC. Sadly, after a couple of seasons in the top flight he sustained a serious ankle injury which side-lined him for some time. When he felt fit again, he decided to finish off his playing career at Lymm RFC, joining for the 1968/69 season. He was then elected Club Captain for the following two seasons 69/70 and 70/71.

These were arguably the two most important seasons in our history, as he gradually changed the ethos of the club from being a fun, social rugby club, to a respected rugby playing club with an excellent social scene. He recognised that the excellent social life at the Club was all part of the chemistry that attracted players to Lymm. Most importantly, Anne wanted them both to be part of it. The timing was perfect, with numerous, talented young pupils at LGS and other local schools, plus others moving into the area, wanting to be part of it. Rugby boomed and we went from 4 teams to 6 teams, with an occasional 7th team being fielded.

To be Contd (See more on this after the memories below)

Steve Ashall:

Alan John Fraser-Dackers, forever known as “Dax”, was a legend to those of us fortunate enough to have attended and played rugby at Lymm GS, in the 1960s. In his unique form of teaching, as well as socially, communication was brief and to the point, but usually made perfect sense. Great memories of fun times with him at the Ty’n y Felin school camp, on Anglesey in the summer holidays. Organising crazy activities and late night card games and quizzes in the farmhouse, where drink was taken, and not a word to our parents! Later, he introduced me to golf at Porthmadog, using their chalet that is still in the family today.

I was a numpty when it came to passing exams, but I was so lucky that, amazingly, he persuaded Bill Crowther, the headmaster, to allow me into the 6th Form to captain the 1st XV, simply based on rugby qualifications, definitely not academic ones! He was also a Cheshire selector, which helped! In return, the deal was for me to baby sit Jaye and Katy, when he and Anne went out, which would have been a worry for most parents, but they both seem to have turned out ok, and still talk kindly to me. In addition to all that, he then encouraged me to play senior rugby at Beechwood, a decision I’ve never regretted, and he continued to be an influence on me throughout my playing days and even some of the social nights, as we both liked a beer.  Al was a very clever man to be much admired, and with a lot of laughs along the way.  R.I.P. Dax. ASH

David Newton:

The LGS U15 7s team won the Cheshire Schools Cup in 1965/1966 season. I was a member of the team and I think it was the first rugby trophy the school won. The team was LtoR Back Row; Larry Appleyard, Pete Smith, Roddy Mills. LtoR Middle Row; Dax, Dave Newton, Brian Harrison, Danny Harris. Front; Wayne Isherwood, Michael Connor. He was a tremendous 7s player for Old Birkonians and coached us at the school Summer Camp, Tyn y Felin, in Anglesey, before the tournament, where he had us training on the beach at low tide to build up our fitness.

I joined the Club and became part of the 1stXV squad at the Rugby Club, The best thing he did for me, was to take me out of the 2nd row and play me at No8. He thought that I would be more influential there and I have been grateful ever since!! I was only 18 when he was first elected Club Captain, and eventually, like many of the other young squad members, becoming a future Club Captain.

All were inspired by Dax’ vision for the Club. It is still with us today, as we hold our own at RFU Level 4, National League 2 North, one of the top 80 clubs in England, a great testament to his vision.

Neil Kelly:

A strong silent man with a deeply analytical brain that whenever he spoke you knew you were listening to wisdom.

No breath was ever wasted in expending unnecessary energy.

No words were ever meaningless.

He was a wonderful man who gave so much too so many, in ways that we may never fully realise. There is today a large friendship group of many years standing that would not exist had it not been for him ( though Ann was a constant facilitator ).

He told me I would be Cheshire schools captain even before the squad was announced and even though he was not a selector!

Chris Rule:

His being a teacher at LGS paved the road to the club for many of us and many of those who naturally found themselves there have remained lifelong supporters and many of those he guided in that direction are still very active in the running and the development of Lymm Rugby Club.

He was massively instrumental in cementing the mutually beneficial relationship between the school and the club: a link that still exists.

Not everyone would welcome their students in their social world but Al and Anne always did, (where else do you get your babysitters from?). He always had time for you. He was always a gentleman. And – he danced! I saw him. It did however tend to be at the end of the night when the last dance was his signal to go and reclaim Ann. And in doing so he was following a seemingly unwritten law of rugby clubs everywhere. He was a man of great imagination and creativity although at times you could be forgiven for doubting it. His creative muse seemed to desert him around New Year’s Eve when fancy dress was required. One year wearing a random rugby shirt and 2 odd socks he claimed to be an “I Don’t Know” and a white cardboard strip wrapped round the neck of his (red) jumper sufficed for the Ecclesiastical and Loose Women year! (Vicars and Tarts in old money).

Whether you got to know him at LGS, through sport, the classroom, Tyn-y felin or The Rugby Club you will have known him for one of a kind: one of the best.

Steve Rule:

Chris wanted me to add a couple of things about Old Birkonians.

I have made contact with Dave Ewing and I think Old Birks will be represented at the funeral. They have very fond memories of Alan, he was a major player for them, particularly at 7s and captained Old Birks to 3 successive Caldy Sevens victories in the 1960s.

They sent me some photos, which are shown in the accompanying, Gallery of photos. As well as emerging as a talented rugby player, Alan was an accomplished athlete, the winner of the ‘Victor Ludorum’ at school (best athlete in the school). See also the message sent by one of his school chums in later years, which is shown in the accompanying gallery.

Birkenhead School

School House Winner 1956

Victor Lodorum Winner 1957

He also captained the team to victory in the National Old Boys 7s in 1968 (my brother David, in his last year at school, was the team’s speedy winger!!). Whilst at school and at Loughborough he was an accomplished hockey player and athlete, excelling particularly in pole vault, as well as a top rugby player of course.

Steve Fox:

One memory that stands out for me with Dax ( and you might get this from others who played with him ), was the fact that he hated playing when it was really cold and the memory of him putting on ladies tights under his kit and gloves to play in was an eye opener. God knows what the opposition thought.

As most people know, Alan was the reason I played for Lymm. All through my school days I played rugby league for Warrington RL Cub. In the sixth form at Lymm GS. my dad put his foot down and said I should pack it in because I was taking a lot of knocking about playing for Warrington ‘A’ team. I had a chat with Alan and he invited me up to Lymm Rugby Club and the rest is history, as they say. I am so grateful to him for all of this – playing good rugby, making great friends and having a fantastic time. If only I could do it all again.

Alan had a fantastic rugby mind. The best example of this was the way he planned our victory over Birkenhead Park in the semi-final of the Cheshire Cup, it was a masterclass as the result proved.

I shall always remember him with gratitude and many great memories.

Tony Hollings:

I was completely taken aback and truly saddened when I learned of Alan “Fraser D’s” passing the other week. He was one of only a handful of teachers who taught me, who seemed to understand their charges, in a considered manner, coupled with, in his case, a fine degree of sensitivity.

From his arrival in the school’s PE department in September 1962, when I was starting my second year as a pupil, through to my departure in June 1968, following completion of my A levels, the influence he had on my involvement in sport, in particular rugby and athletics, and on my teaching career was considerable; and even now, some 60 odd years down the line, I still hold his memory in the highest esteem.

He was definitely one of a “new breed” of coach, preferring what I’d call “the quiet word” approach, born of an understanding of the psychology of sport. Indeed, one particular episode stands out in my memory regarding Alan’s modus operandi, where I benefitted from his help. It was at an awards evening held at the Rugby Club, for the purpose of celebrating the successes of the school’s rugby teams. My own form had taken a bit of a dip and Alan called me onto the landing outside the main bar and at the top of the main staircase. He then proceeded to talk me through all that I was doing right as far as my playing game was concerned and to put that which I was concerned about out of my mind, since he believed they were minor problems which could easily be rectified if I stopped worrying about them. “Have faith in the ability you know you possess and get back to enjoying your game”. I shall never forget his words and I wish I’d thanked him more.

There are many other examples I could give of AJFD’s influence on my own sporting activity that I carried with me through my teaching career. Hopefully I will be able to share these with friends and family at his funeral. Rest in Peace Dax.

Len Davies:

He was the Head of PE when I joined the then Lymm Grammar School in 1977. He then moved into the science department to teach mainly Physics and I took over as Head of PE – can’t quite remember the exact year 1980/81 ish!

My first job on my first day was to blow up all the rugby balls with one of the old hand bike pumps – I was knackered. Dax never used ‘small talk’ and I wondered in my early days whether I had done something wrong or upset him in some way. I later found that, ‘that was just Dax’. I could never beat him at any sport, whether it be tennis, badminton, table tennis or the many made up games he invented in our spare time we had back then in the summer. Such as ‘4 table tennis tables’, put end on end and playing normal table tennis rules, or ‘gym benches one on top of the other’ in the gym and playing tennis on the badminton court,  with tennis balls and underarm serving – doubles if the ladies played! Introducing me to trips down to ‘Evans of Longton’ in Stoke to get the best prices on PE equipment rather than ordering through the school! Later on in his career when fully into his Physics he used to wander out at lunchtime in his jacket and tie and teach / demonstrate how to do Pole Vaulting with a metal pole at Athletics practice.

Different times from a very different man who taught so much too so many whether they be students or staff! Nice memories.

Peter Cornelia (continued):

Dax finally retired from playing part way through 1972/73 season. David Berry writes in his book, Out on a Lymm –

….. He left an enormous gap in the side. But since then he has always been involved in some form, either officially or just passing on bits of advice to the players on a Saturday evening. His offices have included Chairman of Selection, Chairman of Playing and Chairman of the Club. He has also served as our Cheshire County Representative and a County selector.

Outside of rugby Dax had many other interests, mainly those that appealed to his competitive interest. Monday night at the Club in the 60s, early 70s, was games night; darts, bar billiards, pool, various card schools. He loved playing cards and devising variations to games. He devised a variation to contract whist, which we called ‘Oh Hell’. Dax, myself, Al Cummins, John Hartley plus others, played for over 20 years on a Monday and Thursday night at the Club and later at Grappenhall Ex Serviceman’s Club. The GESM also had a lovely crown bowling green and Dax, AC. Jim Knowles, JH, Chopper Monks, Roger Atherton and myself, all enjoyed bowling for a number of summers. All highly competitive of course with money at stake for the winner. Just what Dax liked.

In the late 70s, and 80s the clubs finances were not very healthy. To improve bar takings we joined the local Pool League, Darts League and the Warrington Quiz League, Dax took part in all of them. After retiring from LGS, he took up golf again in the mid 90s and put up with AC, Haighy and myself. We were not members of any club and didn’t have handicaps. We used to turn up at Royal Walton at the crack of dawn, hoping to be first on the tee. He was by far the most experienced and put up with lots of ‘suffering hells teeth’ from Haighy, ‘where did that go?’ from me or AC—- from him came ‘It’s behind you PC’ or to ‘AC, ‘yours is just behind PC’s.’ We did improve and all became members of High Legh Golf Club, together with others from the Rugby Club enjoying regular roll up golf sessions. Great times. A major fund raiser for the Club was the annual LRFC team golf challenge comp at Heyrose Golf Club. This was originally organised by that great Club Stalwart and much missed friend Lionel Cockayne. He ran it for a number of years before handing it on to Dax and myself.

Dax retired from teaching when he was 55 in 1993. Jaye and Katy were married and starting their own families. So, he and Anne were able to spend more time at their chalet in Port Madoc and he joined the local golf club, where he enjoyed playing socially and in the club competitions with Alan Withenshaw and other Lymm RFC chums. Alan and Carol had bought an adjacent chalet. He enjoyed gardening and started a little business taking on garden maintenance and projects for friends. He was good, and he took particular pride in creating garden water features, such as rockeries with waterfalls and discrete, attractive lighting. As Chris Rule has eluded to, Anne Dax was a key player in the Dax story. They both enjoyed the social life at the Club and were regular attendees at the various Club social functions during the year. As Chris says, Anne liked to dance and Al would join other guys as far away from the music and the dance floor as possible, enjoying a pint at the bar. He wasn’t one for watching matches every Saturday but was always there for a post match pint and the craic with the boys.

Golf with Geof Evans & Haighy P Madoc June 1997

Alan and Anne met at LGS in 1962, both teachers in the PE Department and married in 1964. They were married for over 50 years, when in the early to mid-2000s, Anne developed Vascular Dementia. The condition progressed slowly initially and Al was there for Anne 24/7 to ensure that she had the best quality of life in her own home. As it progressed, it became too much, even for Al and the family and his own health was suffering and she needed specialised care. Sadly she died in February 2018. Al and the family arranged an excellent post funeral send-off, get together at the Rugby Club, as friends and family shared their memories of Anne.

We are now having to bid our farewells to Dax, a steadfast friend and mentor to so many, leaving an indelible mark on all who knew him. His passion for life, sport and the well-being of others was evident in everything he did. A life well lived, full of resilience and support for those around him. Our sincere condolences to Jaye, Katy and their families. He will be deeply missed but his legacy is still very much evident at Lymm RFC and will continue to inspire us all.

Alan’s funeral will take place on Thursday 11th July at 11.20am at Walton Lea crematorium. Then afterwards, at Statham Lodge. Any donations to St Roccos.



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