The Old Dixonians Rugby Football Club was founded in 1913 by the 'Old Boys'
of George Dixon Grammar School for Boys in City Road, Edgbaston, and will therefore celebrate its centenary in 2013.
The first game which led to the formation of the Old Dixonians Rugby Football Club was played in Balden Road, Harborne between a school side and the Old Boys in harsh December weather in 1913.
It is interesting that one of George Dixon Grammar School's most famous former pupils Michael Balcon (later Sir Michael Balcon and Head of Ealing Film Studios) played for the Old Boys XV who lost 16-11.
An Interesting point to note is that Michael Balcon later chose the name of his old school as the name for his 'Everyman policeman:' George Dixon in the film 'The Blue Lamp' which later became the highly successful and long-running 'Dixon of Dock Green' police series on BBC TV. 'George Dixon'
was a stalwart of the BBC TV schedules throughout the 1960's.This only happened because Balcon did not like the name writer Ted Willis had used originally for his show, the first long-running police TV series, pre-dating 'Z-Cars' and 'The Bill'.
Rugby started officially in the 1913-14 season mainly at the instigation of W G Haigh and AT Ridout who worked together at Chance's Glass Works in Smethwick, one of the most famous industrial names in the West Midlands and who manufactured the glass optics in Britain's lighthouses for Trinity House.
The first ground was somewhere behind Warley Woods on the border between Harborne and Bearwood and washing facilities were tubs in farm outhouses.
Selection meetings were held in The Mikado cafe in Martineau Street in Birmingham city centre.
At that time negotiations for a new ground in Erdington fell through just as the First World War broke out. Several Dixonian players were killed and many wounded and there was a memorial placed to the Dixonian dead in the old George Dixon Boys Grammar school building in City Road.Fixtures were revived in the 1919-20 season after hostilities ceased in November 1918.
In the Dixonians club archive here is a copy of the menu for a Dixonians RFC Dinner held at The Exchange in Birmingham City Centre in March 1914 - 4 courses for 3/6d! In 1925 Neville Chamberlain MP a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and founder of the Birmingham Municipal Bank, the forerunner of Lloyds TSB was a dinner guest.This may have been an Old Dixonians'
The first official games were played by Dixonians Rugby Football Club in Ridgeacre Rd, Quinton in Birmingham, and later (I am not sure of the exact date, probably some time in the 1930's/40's), the club moved to a new ground in Illey Lane in Romsley where they played until 1958 when they moved to a bespoke rugby ground with a new clubhouse in Wassell Grove Lane in Hagley, next to old rivals Old Halesonians, another successful 'Old Boys' club.
The new ground at Wassell Grove opened at the start of the 1958/59 season on 10th September 1958.Chairman of the club at that time was Philip 'Pip'
Jones the husband of 1969 Wimbledon Womens' singles tennis champion Anne Jones, who lived in Westfield Road, Edgbaston, the Birmingham suburb where Dixonians drew most of its players from and where the George Dixon Grammar school where the club originated was situated.
The official opening of the Wassell Grove ground was by G M Seldon, The President of The Rugby Football Union. Peter Robbins the England back row forward guested for Dixonians in a 3-3 draw against a strong North Midlands side also including Brian Whiteman another England international.
The move to Wassell Grove heralded an unprecedented period of success for the club at the 15-a-side game, although the club had enjoyed some success in 7's, winning several North Midlands 7's titles in 1953, 56, 58, and 1959. The club also won the Staines 7's in 1955, 56, and 1958.
Famously Dixonians appeared in the world-renowned Middlesex 7's at Twickenham in the 1957 season playing against senior clubs like London Welsh and Harlequins.
The vintage 1957 Dixonians 7's team reached the final 12 teams from preliminary rounds which originally involved 186 teams in front of a crowd of over 40,000 at Twickenham.
In the quarter finals Dixonians led in the second half against favourites London Welsh fielding 4 internationals including Cliff Morgan, the famous BBC TV rugby commentator and Carwyn James who was later to go on to manage the famous 1971 British Lions who defeated the All Blacks. Two late tries by Carwyn James who later took over from Cliff Morgan as fly-half for Wales as part of Max Boyce's Welsh 'fly-half factory', knocked a plucky Dixonians team out, not before they became the favourites of the crowd, particularly Dave Jeffries at 6' 9" who was a one man line out "tapping the ball back like swatting gnats" as described in The Times.
At that time the club had a number of excellent players, most notably Arthur Coulthard, a centre who went on to play for the premier senior rugby club in Birmingham, Moseley and Harold Jessop, who went on to become Head of Sport at King Edward's School, Aston and was a fine player for Dixonians throughout the 1950's and 60's.Roy Reynolds played for England schoolboys in 1957.
At this time the club captain was Rex Harrison who in many ways was ahead of his time in junior rugby circles, instigating regular training and coaching at the club, which made the club so successful on the field.
His legacy was carried forward by Jim Kendrick in the 1970's and 1980's with Jim proving an able administrator and Chairman of the club. The club being well-run off the field attracted good players which led to success on the field.
The club commemorates Jim Kendick's contribution to the club by holding 'Jim Kendrick Day' every year for its former players, Vice-Presidents and friends of the club to celebrate Jim's lifetime contribution to Dixonians:
As a player: Jim played in 5 different decades for the club in all of the sides, and as an administrator: he was involved with Dixonians for most of his adult life from the 1930's to the 1990's, combining able administration with a very successful business career.
For many years Dixonians played Five Ways Old Edwardians in the 'Arthur Coulthard Memorial Match' on Boxing Day to commemorate its greatest player.The two schools had once shared the same site at Five Ways in Edgbaston.The rugby clubs also had strong links, both being stalwarts of the Greater Birmingham Rugby Football Union and the 'Combined Old Boys' (or 'COBS' as the representative side were known) and the North Midlands RFU.
The fixture ceased to be played in the early 1990's as league rugby came in and friendly games ceased to be as important as they had been.
The club became 'open' to non-Old Boys of the school in the early 1960's.Many clubs became open to non-Old Boys, as there was a decline in the number of former pupils who played rugby. The name of the club became Dixonians to reflect the club's new found 'open' status.This seemed to coincide with the club's 'Golden Years' which led to their first North Midlands Cup win in 1975, Dixonians defeating a strong Luctonians side 21-3 at The Reddings.
At this time the club were coached by former Moseley winger Keith Hatter, who also played for the club after leaving senior rugby. There were a number of players who had turned out for Moseley in Hatter, Mike Evans, Malcolm Hall, who was probably one of the finest players to play for Dixonians, and Colin Osborne.
Colin Osborne, went on to play for Moseley as a quick, hard-tackling centre and has had a long career coaching and playing in senior rugby, culminating in him coaching Zimbabwe in the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.He is now backs coach to Guinness Premiership club, Harlequins.
Dixonians went onto to win their second North Midlands Cup in 1976, defeating Stourbridge in the final 21-9. In the period 1974-76 Dixonians were the pre-eminent club in the North Midlands and often defeated strong Moseley United sides.
Throughout the 1970's and 1980's the Dixonians club enjoyed great success on the field also winning several of the Midland Merit Tables which were the precursor to League Rugby.
This culminated in the club's third North Midlands Cup success in 1986, the club defeating Droitwich 26-0 in the final again at The Reddings.
At this time Graham Viney, one of the finest scrum-halves to be produced by the club was captaining the side to its success, along with Tim Butler and Pete Richardson, two of the hardest-nosed forwards ever to play for Dixonians.The club's success was built around its abrasive pack, marshalled by the expert probing of Viney behind.Graham Viney went on to play for Moseley and was one of the finest scrum-halves playing the game at that time, being voted Moseley player of the year during one of the two season he played for the club in the mid 1980's.
The club had several North Midlands representatives at this time, including brothers Clive and Richard Meanwell who both played for Moseley.Richard Meanwell became an England Colt full-back while representing Moseley.
Graham Viney, Colin Osborne, Malcolm Hall , who memorably scored a try for North Midlands when they played the touring Argentinians at The Reddings in October 1978 and who still holds the club try-scoring record for a season with 50, and prop Neil Sullivan also played County Championship rugby for North Midlands during this halcyon period for the club.
In the early 1990's the club moved from Wassell Grove, back to the school in City Road, Edgbaston.Dixonians had always drawn its players from Bearwood, Harborne and Edgbaston in Birmingham, and Wassell Grove in Hagley was proving to be too distant from its player base in the west of Birmingham.
The club continued to be successful in the 1990's and early 2000's rising to Midlands 2 under the captaincy of Lee Irwin, one of the most athletic forwards ever to play for the club.Lee also represented North Midlands in the County Championship.This was the highest that the Dixonians club has risen to in the rugby pyramid, i.e. the fifth tier of English rugby.
Around the turn of The Millennium the club played for a few seasons at the former St Philips Grammar School sports ground in Knight low Road, Harborne, renting from the Oratory Fathers. Following disagreement with the Oratory Fathers as to how the ground should be developed the club left Knightlow Road and entered into an arrangement with Lordswood School on Hagley Road in Bearwood, with the club changing its name to 'Lordswood Dixonians RFC'.
The new Lordswood Dixonians club now has its base at the school and it is hoped that through this arrangement the club will be able to grow and develop junior players from boys attending the school, by providing coaching and support.
In 2005 Dixonians reached the final of the North Midlands Shield, which has now replaced the North Midlands Cup, played at Stourbridge RFC. In an entertaining high-scoring encounter, which was a great advert for junior rugby, Dixonians were only defeated by a spirited Solihull side late in the game.
The club currently plays in Midlands West 2 and plays its 1st XV home games at the Birmingham City University Sports Ground in Moor Lane, Witton.The 2nd XV play their home games at the Lordswood School ground in Hagley Road, Bearwood.
Dixonians RFC is planning to host a Grand Centenary Dinner in 2013 in Birmingham to which it hopes to invite many of those who have been involved with the club over the last half century.
Here's to the next one hundred years for Lordswood Dixonians RFC!!!!!!