CHESTERFIELD RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL CLUB
THE PAST, PRESENT
THE MEN WHO STARTED IT ALL
Notice in Derbyshire Times
15th November 1919
It has been proposed to make an effort to establish Rugby football in Derbyshire and a meeting will shortly be held in Chesterfield for that purpose. Mr J.T.Todd of Blackwell the old Durham and international player has kindly consented to preside,and it is hoped all enthusiasts of amateur rugby will make an effort to form a committee etc. Mr W.Walton Pitt of the Mill House, Unstone,will be glad to receive the names of all those interested, both past and present players,and headmasters of schools, the latter being specially invited. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Every writerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wish will be studied as far as possible, so each one should state the most convenient night in the week for a meetingÃ¢â‚¬Â,writes Mr Pitt
THE FIRST MEETING
Notice in the Derbyshire Times
29TH NOVEMBER 1919
Mr J.T.Todd of Blackwell, and Mr W.Walton Pitt,of The Mill House,Unstone are leaving no stone unturned to make the proposed Rugby football club for North Derbyshire a great success. They have called a meeting for Wednesday night next at 7p.m. at the Portland Hotel, Chesterfield, to which all who take an interest in Rugby football,whether players or not,are invited. We hope the club will go full steam ahead, and with the enthusiasm of Mr Todd and Mr Pitt as secretary,if Rugger enthusiasts will rally around them, success is assured.
18 Men of widely varying backgrounds and social standing,answered the invitation. In a smoke filled room the first firm plans were made and
CHESTERFIELD RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB WAS DULY FOUNDED.
Some of the major personalities behind the foundation were local dignatories with a strong interest in sport, namely Messrs D.I.Jones, H.D.Orr and Dr T.R.Evans.
The new club however did not immediately become active on the field, as Founder Member Harold Webb recalled Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a shirt, a pair of boots or a ball between us and whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a rugby field to play onÃ¢â‚¬Â .
Early games and practice were played at various venues including an area of ground at Highfield and then Brampton on fields which are now Brookfield School. The players changed at this time in stables at the Terminus Hotel and bathed in two halves of a beer cask.
STARTING TO MOVE
Quote from the Derbyshire Times November 1919
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The club will start under excellent auspices for Mr Todd has promised the free use of the Blackwell cricket ground(10 minutes from Westhouses Station),which,as we all know is a beautiful level enclosure, with fine turf, and has also offered full enjoyment of the handsome club dressing rooms with hot and cold baths and other luxuries. To some of us who often in our early enthusiastic days had to change under a hedge or in the stable of a village pub, such an offer is pure luxury to Rugger players.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ With this offer of good facilities away from the town it was decided early in 1920 to rename the club
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Ã¢â‚¬Å“Chesterfield & District Rugby Union Football ClubÃ¢â‚¬Â
THE EARLY DAYS
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The opposition in these early days was almost entirely made up of schools and colleges which included
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Mount St.MaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s College,Spinkhill
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Sheffield University
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Worksop & Burton Grammer Schools
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ In one game against these school boys the emerging Chesterfield side of men were beaten 67-3 and warned before the start to play within the rules only to be physically and mentally thrashed.
THE FIRST GAME
Quote from the Derbyshire Times 6th March 1920.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Chesterfield and District Rugby Football Club after their successful send-off last week by means of the All England XV v Yorkshire match, play their first match today (Saturday) at Blackwell,kick-off at 3p.m. The opposing side is Burton, and the brewers , who generally put a strong side into the field what ever the sport is, will give the Chesterfield club a good game.
The home team is as follows:- Beastall,Wright,Short,Widdowson,Bion,Dr.Smart,Chambers,Harry,Jones,Johnston,Ellis,Ackroyd,Yeomans,Taylor and Fowler.
The teams strength was boosted by a group of Welsh colliers transferred to Blackwell pit, one of their more illustrious being Grenville Chambers.
REPORT ON THE FIRST MATCH
13TH MARCH 1920
Quote from the Derbyshire Times.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Chesterfield and District clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s debut at Blackwell on Saturday against Burton-on-Trent Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ side was a good start and encouraging to the officials having regard to the weather. The Chesterfield team did just as much as could be expected of them,for it was really a contest between a combination of aspirants and capable and experienced players. That Burton won by 14 points to 3 points is not a discouraging result.
The homesters led at the interval with a try by Colin Linathan, a Blackwell youth.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Chesterfield & District Rugby Football Club
2nd Row:D.I.Jones (Hon.Sec),Dr.J.P.Michael,Dr T.R.Evans,M.Morris,F.Hardy,L.Morris,K.Bond,J.Fletcher,A.G.Samuel,J.L.Warner
Capt.H.D.Orr(President), A.Hudson, Dr. P.Walshe
3rd Row: F.G.Wilkinson, C.Bond, H.Webb, D.J.Davies, J.Shentall
THE SPLIT WITH BLACKWELL
The aim of the committee was always to have two separate clubs, Chesterfield and Blackwell and in 1923 that ambition was achieved.
Blackwell went on to be the more successful in these early days, good enough to play top senior clubs like like Blackheath and Waterloo and Chesterfield Rugby Football Club became a club in its own right.
Blackwell however folded and passed their considerable wealth onto the Chesterfield Club, rumour had it a sum of Â£10,000 but no record exists of this transaction
Chesterfield Rugby Football Club 1st XV 1926-27
Playing at Highfield 1926
THE MOVE TO STONEGRAVELS
By 1923 the name Ã¢â‚¬Å“SHENTALLÃ¢â‚¬Â was appearing in the clubs teams and with this arrived the clubs long association with the Shentall family.
In 1925 a piece of land had been identified at Stonegravels that would be suitable (with some levelling work) for a rugby ground.
The ground was acquired from S.E.Redfern Limited on 15th September 1927
Through the good offices of Messrs. Charles Shentall and J.W.Thompson the club was able to purchase enough land for a rugby pitch for the sum of Â£1200.
Work was put in hand and the first match was played at the clubs current ground on Saturday 8th October 1927
S.E.REDFERN. Ltd.1905 ish
Opening of Stonegravels
The Early Representative Honours
Play for Notts,Lincs & Derbys 1928
Was this picture taken outside the original clubhouse ?
PRINCE ALEXANDER OBOLENSKY
RugbyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s oldest iconic moment preserved on film Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Wonder TryÃ¢â‚¬Â- which propelled England towards an historic first victory over New Zealand in 1936 was scored by
Prince Alexander Oblensky.
(Chesterfield, Leicester Tigers, Rosslyn Park, Barbarians & England)
Born in Russia in 1916 the prince came to England at the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917 and at the age of 13 was sent to school at Trent College in Derbyshire.
The Prince proved to be an outstanding rugby player whilst at the school between 1929 & 1933 and it was at this time that the prince donned the Red and White Hoops for Chesterfield.
The prince is the only Russian to have played rugby for England.
He was apparent ally a dashingly hansom man but like so many of that era did not survive the war, he was the first international rugby player to be killed, he was just 24 when his Hurricane fighter crashed during a training exercise
Clarence George Gilthorpe
Chesterfield,Wasps,R.A.F.,Coventry,Oxford University & England
After the war years the club need to re-establish its self and this it did with the return of many old players from war service with stories of their contribution to HitlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s downfall.
Of those who told their story we still have John Kenning who saw service with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean before playing a higher level of Rugby with Harrogate and Shrewsbury before returning to Chesterfield.
The late Tommy Slack who flew 96 missions in Lancaster's when the the return expectancy was only 4 returned to give exceptional service to the club.
Unfortunately some never returned including Tommy Blackshaw,Jack Street & H.O.Ferguson
After the 2nd world war the club played in plain red shirts as the hooped shirts previously worn could not be purchased because of rationing, the hooped shirts were only reintroduced in 1956.
Jack Shenstall was club secretary at this time. Derrick Drabble was a driving force from 1947 and captain 1952-53 finally retiring in 1954.
The club obtained its first clubhouse on the ground in 1952-53 with the members doing most of the work to keep the cost down to Â£300.
Two tennis courts on the Sheffield Road frontage were added in 1955 as members became interested in keeping fit during the summer. According to Tommy Slack it was also an attraction for young ladies to get with the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rugger BuggersÃ¢â‚¬Â as Spike Milligan put it.
The Expansion of the Ground and Club House
The club by the 1960Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s was running three teams and required to expand its facilities and this was made possible by the purchase of land from the Short family namely Elsie Short and Peter Burkitt Short.
The land comprising a second pitch and training area was acquired on 20th July 1961 with the Westminster Bank acting as the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trustees. The cost of the land was Â£1250
The 1970Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s was the most successful period in the clubÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history at senior level. At this time many honours were earned as County and 3 Counties champions with the club playing top clubs all across the Midlands and holding their own.
I this period the club was able to get itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first floodlights and became the envy of many.
Chesterfield with this facility host many representative fixtures.
The Club also at this time extended and improved the clubhouse and changing facilities.
Many members worked to achieve this new level they included John Wilson,whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father was secretary,Fran OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Neill, Norman Tate, Geoff Cass,The Kenning Family etc.
The Late 1980Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and Junior Rugby
In the Mid to late 1980Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s the club started encouraging junior rugby, firstly sons of former players then their mates and then the expansion to a full junior section and currently expansion to junior ladies.
The junior section now boast almost 300 playing members from 7 to 19 years of age.
With the juniors have come MumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and DadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and GrandmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and Granddad's.
The investment in youth has lead to todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s success at junior level and will hopefully lead to success again at senior level soon.
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