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Pitchero Club

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Club History

A group of former players - several with first class experience - came together to form Datchworth RFC in 1969. They added a handful of players who had played rugby at school at "persuaded" villagers with an Association Football background to change codes. A XV emerged. Nick King, the prime mover, became the first Captain and Tottenham Old Grammarians the first opponents.

Norman Pearman enabled forward momentum to be maintained by generously lending the ground. Two showers in the old Village Hall became the changing facility.

Then the embryo club attached itself to the long standing Datchworth Cricket Club and summer's cricket pavilion turned into winter's rugby clubhouse.

A 2nd XV followed quickly and by 1972 a 3rd XV had taken the field. With three teams operating, a second pitch became a necessity. Again Norman Pearman came to the rescue.

The first major project for the Club was the levelling of the side of the hill behind the Village Hall for the initial flat pitch. Players and supporters accomplished this mammoth task. Next came the Clubhouse extension.

By 1988 a new project was the raising of more than £10,000 to create two new pitches adjacent to the Clubhouse on land kindly leased by John Wallace.

With the October opening by Hertfordshire RFU President David Bird the Club now had four pitches - and a host of minis, juniors and colts enjoying Sunday mornings at the Club.

On the playing side the Club began to make it's presence felt in the County during the mid '70s. The coaching services of Ron Tennick, No 2 to Twickenham's Technical Director Don Rutherford, were secured by Club Captain Dave Mathews, the former Northumberland cap.

A series of cup surprises ensued with Stevenage, Hitchin and Harpenden among the scalps and Bishops Stortford and Barnet among the clubs whose feathers were ruffled.

The Club started with green and white hoops. As it moved forward so came a colour change. Out went the hoops. In came a plain emerald and the supporters' chants of "Come on The Greens". It also meant washing became less hazardous.

Success was maintained under Paul Warsop's leadership. And in 1977 the signpost for the future was placed by the indefatigable Charles Morris, the Club's second 1st XV skipper and ex-Rosslyn Park and Moseley, when he launched the minis.

It was Charles' legacy before leaving for Cheshire and from it have sprung juniors and colts and a major input into the senior club.

Indeed Datchworth's contribution to County youth rugby was remarkable in 1988-89. Eight players - from U14s to Colts - represented Hertfordshire. They included a spendid double. Two of the three County School XVs were captained by Datchworth boys: Rob Botterman led the U18s and David Colebrooke the U16s. Both were hookers. And Rob's elder brother, Greg, hooked for Herts U21s. He went on from Datchworth to Saracens 1st XV and on the bench for England in the Calcutta Cup.

From the start touring was a seasonal highlight. Nowadays youth XVs disappear to New Zealand and South Africa. Vets pop across to Canada.

Seniors started in the early '70s with exchange trips. Paris, of course, where else? A regular exchange took place with L'Hay les Roses. We went to Paris and Paris came to Datch. Not only players, but wives, girlfriends and children travelled. In 1974, 106 French visitors were entertained - in homes of club Members.

Since then seniors have crossed the channel to Holland, Belgium and Spain. And across the Atlantic to the US. They also went on a double decker bus called 'Blossom' - with a bar downstairs - to Amsterdam.

The first youth expedition was in 1987 to Dourdan, France. It was also the biggest mounted by Datch before or since. Three teams, U13s, U15s and U17s went - a total of 70, 57 players, eight coaches, two referees and three drivers. Nine matches were played and eight won.

At the start all rugby from minis to vets was 'social' with the exception of the County Cup. Nowadays everyone seems to be 'competitive'. Datchworth played it's part in starting 'league' rugby for seniors. The more important Herts clubs had a Merit Table (leagues were not allowed). So on Datchworth's initiative the not so important Herts clubs set up the Herts B Merit Table in 1984. It made a useful introduction to the league system which of course followed..

In this potted history of the first years of Datchworth RFC five names of Members have been mentioned who unhappily are no longer with us. Nick King, Norman Pearman, Dave Mathews, Charles Morris and Paul Warsop all made massive contributions to the start of the Club and we owe them a great debt of gratitude as we pass our 40th anniversary and look forward to our 50th.

Jim Fookes
July 2008


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