Reported in the News Letter on August 29, 1963: ‘War of the roses’ ends in defeat for Portadown man

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Portadown rose-grower, Mr Sam McGredy, was very angry yesterday when his Continental-style exhibit, costing thousands of pounds, was beaten by an outsider at Southport Flower Show.

“It is absolutely ludicrous and everybody in the trade agrees,” he said.

“Even the winner, who is a personal friend of mine, is rather embarrassed. I 
immediately lodged a protest, gave them back the cup they had awarded me for second place, and told them what to do with it. I am absolutely mad about it.

“When I asked to see the judges I was told that they were not available but I have spoken to two of them unofficially, and they told me that the prize was awarded on the merit of the few roses, whereas it should have been judged on the merit of the whole exhibit – imagination, presentation, quality and so on.

“It is not that I cannot take a beating. I have got to be prepared to lose sometimes. My complaint is not against the winner but against the judging. If this is going to be the standard, you might just as well put a few roses on a bare table. All this (with a wave of his hand) is a sheer waste of time.”

So the cup for the best exhibit of roses in the show proudly stands on the modest 20 foot stall of J Cocker & Sons Ltd (Aberdeen), with his 2,000 roses. Mr McGredy’s massive display with 25,000 roses dominated the centre of the big marquee, but is without even a certificate.

Mr Alex Cocker (56), fourth generation member of the family firm, which started in 1841 and never advertises, said: “I was one of the judges and the judges were 12-6 in favour of my exhibit. I voted for McGredy’s. I do not agree that our quality was lower: rose for rose I think the quality compares very favourably, but of course he has the quantity.

“There was nothing wrong with the judging.”