The President's View of Our Proud History - Martin Baker
Enfield Ignatians RFC was founded in 1949 as Old Ignatians RFC, to provide rugby for former pupils of St. Ignatius College. Since then we have created our own destiny.
In the early days we used the College pitches in Park Lane, Tottenham but, as the OI Association grew in strength, in 1961 we managed to secure a lease of a 15 acre site in South Woodford. These were halcyon days for the club, regularly providing players for the County (Essex!) side, and we also had a final English trialist. After reaching a peak in the late 60s, the club faced a major upheaval in 1973 when our land was purchased for the new M11. The club then moved to Enfield, but a fragmented existence began.
In 1974, two pitches were hired from Enfield Council, but we had to use various pubs and clubs to entertain the opposition. In 1977, Woodcroft, a ground in Winchmore Hill, was leased but although it had a clubhouse there was no space for a rugby pitch. This was not satisfactory to take the club forward, and after an unsuccessful attempt to develop a site in Enfield in 1980, the Club began negotiations with Enfield Council for a permanent base. Initial conversations focussed on the development of Firs Farm, but the current site was finally identified as the most appropriate.
The mid 80s were significant in setting the foundations of the Club we have today. In 1982 Enfield Council agreed to the construction of a clubhouse and changing rooms on the current site. At the same time the Club became open and changed its name to "Old Ignatians and Enfield RFC". In 1986 Phase One, consisting mainly social facilities was completed, at a cost of £45,000!
For the season 1988-1989, following discussions with Enfield Old Grammarians, we changed our name to Enfield Ignatians RFC. In October 1989, after securing further loans, the president of the RFU, Peter Yarranton, opened the clubhouse. The leagues had been introduced in 1987 and in 1989-1990 we were Middlesex Division 4 Champions – gaining the first of many promotions. There were then further promotions and league mergers. In 1993-1994 following the first National League restructure we were placed in Middlesex Division 2.
The 1995-1997 seasons were significant for the club for they demonstrated the determination and resilience that is our hallmark. An arson attack in 1995 destroyed the club, yet the following week we fielded four sides and the same season (1995-1996) we reached the Quarter Finals of the National Cup and were undefeated champions of Middlesex Division 2. The Clubhouse was rebuilt within a year and the formal reopening was in spring 1997. In June 1999, over 250 guests celebrated our Golden Jubilee.
Since the millennium we have gone from strength to strength. We have now completed the final part of the building programme, including changing facilities for six teams and officials - all of which we have financed without any external support, from the Lottery or other sources. In 2000 we were promoted to Herts. /Middlesex Division 1. In 2003 we were promoted to London League 4 and in 2004 to London League 3. 2007-2008 was arguably our most successful season ever. The First XV were winners of the Middlesex Bowl Final, in another first for the Club: our first floodlit match, following the installation of new floodlights. Not only that - 2nd Team: Merit Table 1 Winners and Cup Finalists; 3rd Team: Merit Table 2 Winners;4th Team: Merit Table 4 Runners Up and Cup Finalists. Then in 2009-2010 both 3rd and 4th Teams were cup winners.
But it is not just the Senior Section which gives the Club great pride. Over the years there has been a strong tradition of a Colts side, with six of the first team captains from the last twenty years coming from our Colts’ teams – and over 70% of the senior sides starting their rugby in the Junior section.
From the Under 6s to the Under 18s there has been an exponential growth in the numbers in our Junior and Minis over the last ten years. For this we are grateful to support of parents, the willingness of coaches and the enthusiasm of the young players. As a result the players (and families) have seen the traditions of end of season tours, end of season dinners and of course the thrill of the competition of rugby. We are also proud of the large numbers for our Junior Section who have represented Middlesex at different age groups – over twenty. These young players are the future of the Club.
Enfield Ignatians RFC is a Club with pride, aspiration and ambition both on and off the field. What better examples could there be than the Big Tour to South Africa, taking 63 in the party; and the Big Day out at Allianz Park, with 500 players.
We are right to be proud of our history - both recent and over sixty years. We embrace the future with expectation.
Enfield Ignatians RFC