1925 - Today
On Friday 17th July, a general meeting took place in Horden Parish Church Hall with the express motive of forming a Rugby Club in the village. It was unanimously agreed by those present to form the new club.
Thus was founded the club which is this year celebrating its 76th Anniversary. The first officials were elected at the meeting and to them is owed a great debt for putting the club on a foundation which is still firm today.
President - J.P. Hall
Chairman - A.J. McQuillan
Vice Chairman - W. Louden
Secretary - S. Wayper
Treasurer - H. Coates
Captain - S. O. Prest
Vice Captain - R.H. Charlton
Committee: Messrs, Riley, Chiverton, Milner, Velma, Stephenson, Baker and Dr. Armit
It was agreed that the club colours should be green and white hoops and that the club should be called:
Horden Rugby Club
The club was founded against a background of strife throughout the area. It was a time of great difficulty in the mining industry which was, and still is, the backbone of the village. It was perhaps because of the hardships and discontent in their working conditions that the community turned to sport as a welcome relief. Whatever the reason, interest in rugby throughout the mining industry was great, and there numerous colliery villages in Durham County sporting rugby teams. It is interesting to note that where others have failed, Horden has survived to become the only colliery welfare club left in the county & Ashington aside, probably The North of England.
The first game played by the club took place on 3rd October 1925 against Hartlepool Rovers II and was won 6-3. Mr T Potts, the Manager of Easington Colliery, kicked off after Mr J P Hall had declined the offer. Prior to the game jerseys had been purchased at 10s6d each, shorts 7s6d a pair and stockings at 3s9d a pair - a vast difference from today's costs! Admission to the ground was 4d with a half price reduction for all who could produce an unemployment card.
Opposition during the first season included many well known clubs but it is well to remember that it was the era of the Pyman League and many Hartlepool teams included in the first fixture list have long since ceased to exist - Seamans Institute, Hartlepool YMCA, Heortensians, Throston Wanderers, Elwick Rd O.B., Southwick Rangers, Ryhope Vulcans, Silkworths Harlequins, Stanley, Boldon and Chopwell. An interesting point from this initial season was that the Committee thought fit to nominate R.H. Charlton for a County Trial before the club has played a single game! It is not recorded how he fared.
Even in this first season it did not take the players long to come face to face with two problems which confront all rugby clubs - injuries and lack of finance. In December 1925 the players decided that an Ancient Fund was essential to compensate players injured playing for the club. Each player agreed to pay 6d a week and injured players would receive 10s a week benefit. The first Annual Dance was held on 26th January 1926 in the Miners Hall. Tickets were 5s each including refreshments at 2s6d a head provided by Milburns of Sunderland. Music was provided by J. Ralfini's Band at a cost of £8 10s - no comment is required.
From this beginning the history of the club falls into four distinct periods - 1926-39, 1945-56; 1957-74; 1974 to present. The periods of these years mark definite groupings of members and players and there are very few overlaps.
1926 - 1939
The 1926 season opened in the middle of the general strike in which the mining communities were hardest hit. In order to turn out a side the club had to stand bond to purchase 6 pairs of boots from Kilburns with the players having to pay back the money once the strike was over. Better times were ahead and by the end of the season the club were fielding a 2nd XV. The first XV reached the Junior Cup Final losing to Blaydon. The side that day were H Shingles, E Plant, W Oakman, J Walker, H Allen, H Hawke, T Kelly, A Welsh, J Wood, S Wayper, R Ritson, A Pattison, T Smith and A Close.
In 1929 Horden's name did go onto the Junior Cup when they beat Southwick Rangers 3-0 in the final also defeating Boldon 57-0 9th DLI 6-0 and Billingham 19-8 in the previous rounds.
1937 was the clubs next victorious season when they won the Gibb Shield, Lormor Cup and Pyman Cup. The first and only time that all three had been out of Hartlepool at the same time. This period saw S Wayper and H Malpas play for the county at senior level and many other players had regional trials but the Rugby League scouts were around and lured the best players away.
The most famous of these was Barney Hudson who played for the all conquering Salford Red Devils. He regularly played for England and twice toured Australia with the British Lions Rugby League side captaining the 1934 tourists. During this period the club changed its strip to our present claret and blue which was purchased for 65 shilling a dozen.
The club did not have its own ground and played on Sunderland Road, Costford Park (behind the cemetery) on the beach banks and finally the cricket field. Considering the hardships the playing record was a remarkably good one and the present club members have every reason to be grateful for our forefathers will to survive.
1945 - 1956
Rugby returned in the 1945-46 season when many players returned from the war, this was probably Hordens hardest time as the clubs strips had dwindled to nine and you could only buy clothing with coupons. Ninety coupons were needed and with help from the Ministry 25 coupons, Durham County Rugby 25 coupons, the players one each and Mrs Ivy Scott who somehow found the rest the club were back on the field. Three second team cup finals in 1947-48 and 49, Pyman cup victories in 1946 and 47 again put the club in the limelight.
This period saw the levelling of the cricket field on our present first XV site. It was done by the committee & players on a voluntary basis and in every case the volunteers soon dried up. Club stalwarts Charlie Poole and Chris Bradley Snr were left and the story goes that they spun a coin as to whether they carried on. Heads they did and tails they went home, needless to say the result was heads and the club survived (Charlie was proud of that double headed coin).
National service took its toll at the end of this era with many players called up and with only a third team cup win in 1953 and a victory in the Watts Moses 7s helping to keep the spirits high.
1957 - 1974
The 1957 annual meeting saw an influx of young players take over the running of the club. Success in the 1959 Pyman Cup and then three successive Junior Cup victories in 1961-62 and 63 saw Horden achieve senior status in 1964 with P.G. Dunn being our first County representative.
The players involved in the hattrick of victories is a real who's who of Hordens elder statesmen. Gordon Thom, Ray Ferry, Jack Baxter, Tom Liddle, Billy Gibson, Derek Armstrong, Tom Coombe, Tom Anderson, John Bruce, Harry Spink, Brian Haswell, Keith Lunsden, Peter Reasbeck, Steve Harle, Tom Milburn, Cliff Baty, Joe Linn, Frank Noble, John Stokes, Laurence Applegarth, Alan Wearmouth, Stan Hall, Bill Archbold, Ken Sutherland and John Greener.
1964 also saw the start of a 3rd XV (The Ramblers) but the opening of the clubhouse in February of this year was the most significant. The unending work of John Bruce, Tom Coombe and many others finally came to realisation and we had a permanent home at last.
1969 gave us our first Pyman Cup victory with our second XV, and this decade ended with a new set of players coming through to win the R.L. Harrison 7s. John Groves, Terry McLean, David Bruce, David Hawley, John Hudson, Eddie Hudson, Paul Collins and David Tait all played that night and took the club on to a higher plain.
1975 - Today
Perhaps this era has been the clubs most successful period. The training rule started by the players meant if you did not train twice in a fortnight you would not be selected for the 1st XV. This revolutionised our thinking on fitness and coaching with results on a Saturday showing the benefit of training together.
The decision in 1981 to drop all 2nd XV games against our 1st XV was in hindsight the biggest gamble the playing side have ever taken. Fixture Secretary, Bill Featonby, had to find new opponents as out went Gosforth Greyhounds, West Stags, Hartlepool Heughers, Blaydon Georgians. To be replaced by Egremont, Whitehaven, Workington, Penrith and Carlisle. Good victories over our Cumbrian friends and a lot of publicity in the Journal from John Pargetter saw the club take off. Darlington and Sunderland were first to give us games and this coupled with the advent of league rugby had seen the club rise in stature ever since. Halifax, Beverley, Keighley and Doncaster then appeared in our fixture list which have our vociferous travelling support something to cheer about.
Every era throws up a star and this one was no exception. Dave Turner came to the club in the early eighties and after a great career at 1st XV Scrum-half he took on the coaches job.
Promotion on 3 occasions, a County Cup Final appearance against Stockton in 1995 are some of his successes. But this is just the tip of the iceburg. His commitment and energy in everything he does whether coaching the Juniors on a Sunday or with the Seniors has set him apart and the club owe a great debt of gratitude to him.
Horden also had its first "County President" when Bernie Lewis enjoyed his year of office, with Peter Black, Stephen Black, Gary Ellis and Stuart Bennett all wearing the Durham County shirt with distinction over this period and with a good set of youngsters coming through to take over the mantle the next seventy five years should be as exciting and successful as the last.