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Club History

As an ex-captain and chairman, I have been asked to write a brief history of the GARFC.

The 1st team is currently playing in London South East 3 having won the League and Cup double in the Kent leagues.

We invite players of any standard; anyone wishing to learn the game, and non-players to join us to play or just enjoy the excellent facilities of the club and the camaraderie that rugby football engenders. We currently field four teams so you do not have to be an ex-international to get a game - although ex-internationals are also welcome!

Who are we? Here is a brief history:

The Gillingham Anchorians RFC has developed from what was originally The Old Anchorians RFC which was formed in 1928 by former pupils of Gillingham County School in Third Avenue Gillingham. The school later became Gillingham Grammar School moving in 1975 to merge into The Howard School at Rainham. Membership of the Old Anchorians RFC was originally confined strictly to ex-pupils and masters of the school.

Old Boys' rugby was very strong in the 50s and 60s, most grammar and public schools producing teams. Even the occasional county player and international came from Old Boys' teams.

Around the 70s the national workforce became much more mobile, that together with more ex-pupils going to university, Old Boys' clubs found it more and more difficult to rely purely on ex-pupils to fill their teams. Many consequently opened their doors to "outsiders". Initially this was met with some resistance from the die-hards of the Old Boys' Associations and the Anchorians were no different. Eventually most bowed to the inevitable and the OAs went open in 1975.

Some like our neighbours The Old Williamsonians, resisted to the bitter end so that their rugby club sadly ceased to exist because of lack of players. Because of the good relationship that existed between the two clubs, some OW players joined the Anchorians. The Old Williamsonians has now reformed although it has never regained the status it had in the 50s and 60s when it was one of the strongest Old Boys' clubs in Kent.

To identify with the then Borough the club became Gillingham Anchorians in 1975. This also identified it as a club, open to anyone. With the generous help of the then Gillingham Council the club now enjoys some of the best facilities in Kent, sharing a fine clubhouse with other Anchorian clubs and having four pitches in Darland Avenue, Gillingham.

It would be invidious to list just a few of the names of those who have worked hard for the club in the last 75 years - a full list would fill many pages. Suffice to confine it to one name that epitomises the spirit of the Anchorians - P.J. Beacon, who captained the club for 5 consecutive seasons from 1933 to 1937, still a club record. He made the ultimate sacrifice giving his life for his country in the second world war.

Anyone interested can telephone the ClubHouse for details on 01634 851495.

Terry Higgins
August 2005

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