History of LRFC - 1985 to 1990
The club's Diamond Jubileewas celebrated this season. The dinner was held at the Lord Leycester Hotel on 31 January 1986 and the guest of honour was Brigadier Dennis Shuttleworth, President of the RFU. This was followed by a dinner-dance at the Chesford Grange on 8 May. Also, as part of the celebrations, the club hosted a 15 a-side tournament on 13 October. Eight clubs were invited but only five turned up. The competition was played in two groups, with games lasting 20 minutes. Leamington beat Kenilworth 10-0 and Walsall 12-0 to reach the semi-finals. Banbury and Sutton Coldfield came through from the other group, narrowly putting out a second Leamington side. Unfortunately we went down 12-4 to Banbury in the semis' who in turn lost 13-0 to Sutton Coldfield in the final.
The other major celebratory event was a floodlit fixture, on 14 November, against Romanian champions Steaua Bucharest. This was the Romanian army sports club and at the time it was probably as close as you could get to a professional rugby union team. They provided the backbone of the international side, which at the time was pushing hard for a place in the then five-nations tournament. Peter Payne organised the match, which was sponsored by Carrick Travel. The Leamington XV was originally selected as a mixture of Leamington and other local clubs but ended up as mostly the regular team plus a few home-bred players now playing for first-class clubs and a couple of external reinforcements. The line-ups were -
Leamington - Huw Bevan, David Jenkins, Peter Preece, Dean Rawlings, Andy Davies, Derek Larmour, John Williamson, Steve McGee, Bob Mallinson, Paul Gisbourne, Trevor Roberts, John Lyne, Barry Crawley (Warwick Univ), Dave McGee, Adam Warby (Rugby). Replacements were Peter Elliott, Tony Philpott, and Paul Ackerman
Steaua - Hodorca Liviu, Fiucu Sorin, David Vasile, Enache Dimitru, Varzaru Ghoerghe, Codoi Laurentiu, Coman Teodor, Leonte Gheorghe, Munteanu Mircea, Dumitrescu George, Constantin Laurentiu, Motoc Marin, Alex Raduleascu, Florea Costica, Giucal Marcel
The game was played in the most appalling conditions with constant rain throughout, although a crowd of 600 turned up to watch. BBC cameras were also there and brief highlights were shown on Midlands Today the following night. Leamington took a 3-0 lead with a Huw Bevan penalty and it was only on the stroke of half-time that our distinguished visitors, fielding 11 full or under-21 internationals, took the lead. Inevitably their immense physical strength and superior fitness told in the end and four second half tries gave them a 25-3 victory. A sad post-script to the match was that in January1990, news trickled through from Romania that two of the touring party - Florica Muraira and Alex Radulesku - had been killed in the fighting during the Romanian revolution of December 1989.
Second-row forward John Lyne who, on and off, had been a first team regular since the 1960s was elected as captain for the Diamond Jubilee season. It was clear from the start that he had inherited a very difficult situation. Attendance at pre-season training was abysmal and it was clear once the season got underway that some of the older players were not showing the same commitment as in previous years. We had good backs and there was a supply of promising forwards coming through from the Colts, such as Phil McGaffin, Mike Hein, Steve Harris and Tim Byford, but they needed time to build up their strength, stamina and experience. To add to our problems, Tony Philpott and Peter Gray decided to test themselves at first class level.
We were overpowered by Fullerians on the opening day but things didn't look too bad when we came back to dispose of Newbold in the second game. However, it went downhill from there with only two wins in the next 12 games and these were against relatively weak opposition in the shape of Warwick University, in a mid-week floodlit game, and Coventry Welsh in the opening round of the Warwickshire Cup. Desperate measures were needed and in mid-October, in an attempt to stabilise our forward effort, we fielded a "Dad's Army" of John Sturley, Dave Reeve, Ray Ward, John Lyne and John Faulkner in the front five (with a combined age of over 200) against Hereford. This didn't provide an instant cure but finally things did start to pick up with successive wins against Dudley-Kingswinford and Hertford.
Then, the inevitable finally happened - we were drawn against neighbours Old Leamingtonians in the Warwickshire Cup, the first game between the clubs for many years. The timing could not have been much better for the old boys, with Leamington in our worst run for years, with only 5 wins out of 16, and Old Leamingtonians in good form, having won 13 of 17. Played at Moorefields on a typical murky December afternoon, in front of a crowd of around 1,000, it was inevitably a tense and tight affair. The OLs took the lead with an early penalty, only for Leamington to hit back with an Andy Davies try which John Williamson converted. Martyn Rawbone cancelled this out with a converted a try for OLs to put them into the lead again and thereafter increasingly desperate attacks by the superior Leamington three-quarters were repulsed by the well disciplined visitors and a penalty by fly-half Nick Barrow hammered the final nail into our coffin. We went down 12-6. The OLs deserved to win and they were a good side which went on to reach the final where they lost to Solihull. There was a temporary reprieve for the Boxing Day games against Old Warwickians, which had been formally ended the previous season. Leamington won 24-0. The Old Leamingtonians then took over the fixture for the following two years, but perhaps this was too competitive a diversion from the Christmas festivities and the games did not continue. Intra-club friendlies then became popular for a while, with the 1st XV playing a President's invitation side and the Colts playing the Academicals (ex-colts at university and others home for the holiday) but the Boxing Day tradition finally died out in the mid 1990's.
The Cup defeat against Old Leamingtonians proved to the watershed for the season and fortunately our form began to improve after Christmas, with a lot of changes in the side due to injuries and unavailability. Steve Harris, Kevin Oliver and Geoff Walker formed an all new back-row. Brian Taylor came in at hooker and John Kane into the second-row. In the backs, Tim Moore returned to action and played outstandingly well at full-back and Stuart Mallinson became a regular at centre or fly-half, replacing Derek Larmour who moved away to join the Metropolitan Police. Despite their speed and talent the backs began to struggle and it was the now the forwards who started to play well and dominate games. But after a three week break for bad weather in February we hit another difficult patch with four Saturday defeats in a row, one of which was to an outstanding West Park side, paying their first visit from Lancashire. Five wins in April meant the season ended on a high note and an even record. In the Merit table we were only able to play 7 games due to the bad weather, but we won 4 and drew 1.
Bill Dalton captained the Extras and their fortunes mirrored those of the first team. They had their worst season for many years. A poor start was followed by a mini revival in mid-season, but following the break for bad weather their form nose-dived with no wins in ten games, although they did halt the run in the final match. There were victories in the derby games against Kenilworth and Stratford, the latter being abandoned on 60 minutes after a major punch-up, fuelled, in the opinion of the referee, by the unruly behaviour of drunken spectators. The Spartans also had an even record and the Tigers and Stags were both well in credit, although the Stags had their programme decimated after Christmas, with nine games cancelled. Norman David led a Tigers tour to the Isle of Man over Easter, which attracted a number of tour junkies from the up the club as well as Norman's regulars and some enthusiastic social drinkers. One of these was past-Chairman John Oxenbould, who went into a local pharmacy and asked if they had anything for giddiness, splitting headaches, acute sickness and diarrhoea. "When did the symptoms start" asked the concerned pharmacist. "They haven't yet, but I'm expecting them around midnight" John explained. Both games were won with Tony Barton scoring twice in the opening match and star-turn Dean Rawlings touching down in both games.
First XV - 1985-86 PeterPayne (linesman), Mike Hein, Paul Ackerman, Peter Marshall, Trevor Roberts, Kevin Oliver, Lester Turner, Phil McGaffin, Derek Larmour, Phil Marsland - Simon David, Dean Rawlings, John Williamson, John Lyne (captain) David Glasborrow (Chairman) Alan Newbold, Dudley Turner
Spartans (December 1985)- Mick Brain, Geoff Walker, Brian Pocknee, Brian Taylor, Sean Price, Trevor Roberts, John Kane, Chris Shoesmith, Roger Maycock, Peter Payne - Chris Murray, Phil Cowans, Pete Forrest, Brian White (captain) Chris Tudge, Steve Johnson, Simon Lee, Steve Rigg
Winger Andy Davies was elected Player of the Year and Matt Round was the most improved player. John Williamson was capped by Warwickshire to add to his earlier caps for Cumbria and we were well represented in the county sides at under-23, 21 and Colts levels. Another feather in our cap was being awarded the Whistlers Trophy by the Society of Referees for the best hospitality in the County.
The full record of the Colts games (pictured left) is not available but they won around 15 of their 24 matches. In the Warwickshire Colts Cup we played Stratford in the quarter-finals and with the game heading for a draw, which would have put us through having scored the only try, a very late penalty put us out by 9-6. Dicky Davies played for England Colts, becoming the first player from the club to be capped at this level. Heplayed against Wales and France. Nick Brembridge narrowly missed out on joining him but made it through to the final trials and he was elected as the Colts player of the year.
The second year of the U-21 floodlit tournament again attracted a strong field, including Solihull, Northampton, Coventry, Nottingham, Lichfield, Moseley, Rugby, Burton, Stourbridge, Derby, Walsall and Leamington. We were included in a group with Nottingham and Rugby and in the opening round we went down 28-3 to Nottingham. Rugby then conceded their game against Nottingham which put them semi-finals and made our game with Rugby a dead rubber which we lost 14-3. Nottingham went on to beat Walsall, before losing 16-4 to Northampton in the final. Although we failed to repeat the triumph of the year before, we had a very young and much changed side with captain Steve Harris, Nick Brembridge, Stuart Mallinson and Nick Gardner providing the backbone.
In the end of season tournaments, we were finalists in the Old Warwickians veterans' event and won theAlcester and the Warwickshire Sevens,which was played at Old Leamingtonians. Our magnificent seven was never really fully extended and they breezed past Kenilworth (16-6) GEC (40-4) and Barkers Butts (18-10) in the group stages and Lanchester Polytechnic (26-4), Sutton Coldfield (22-4) and finally Warwick University (32-6) in the knock-out rounds. Andy Davies, Laurence Boyle, Phil McGaffin, Andy Poole and Stuart Mallinson scored the tries and John Williamson the conversions. Maurice Goymer, who did so much to develop the colts and under-21 sides, was made an honorary life member of the club at the AGM in 1986.
Our record breaking juniors continued their magnificent run at under-16 level, sweeping all before them. The highlights of their season were a 34-6 win over Portadulaiis from Swansea, who themselves had been unbeaten for four years and in their final game a 24-8 win over Swansea and District, who included eight Welsh schoolboy internationals. In all they played 14 games and won 13, with just one draw and they scored 528 points against only 23. The success of these young players was increasingly being recognised at international level. Lawrence Boyle and Neil Griffiths both played for England under-16schools on their Easter tour of Italy. Neil had played mini rugby at the club since he was eight, although he had since moved to Stamford. Lawrence was following in the footsteps of his brother Simon, who had played for England under-16s two years previously.
Flying winger Andy Davies (left), who was player of the year in 1986, stepped up to captain the first team, with past skipper Bill Dalton becoming club coach. Peter Gray and Gary Taylor returned to the club after spells with Rugby and Northampton respectively and were welcome additions to the side. We also recruited ex-Old Leamingtonians winger Dave Jenkins from Moseley. Players to leave were prop-forward John Sturley, who hung up his boots after six years in the team and Tim Moore, who after injuring his ankle in the opening game, moved to OLs once fit again .
This season was the end of the friendly erain rugby union.The team got off to a promising start with Saturday wins against Wolverhampton, Newbold and Kettering and a narrow and unlucky midweek loss to Solihull. We then came down to earth with a 40-9 defeat against Coventry Extras and after a week off, with many of the players attending Tim Byford's wedding, we lost all five games in October. This run culminated in a second defeat against Solihull in the Warwickshire Cup. Leading 10-3 through a Dudley Turner try at the break and on top for most of the second half, we then lost Phil McGaffin and Andy Davies to injury and the game began to swing Solihull's way. Going into injury time we were still hanging on to a 3 point lead but a penalty with the last kick of the game levelled the scores. This meant extra-time and it was Solihull who got the vital score, with another penalty near the end.
The strong performance at Solihull turned things around and thereafter the team settled down for a fairly good season with an overall record slightly in credit, pretty much as it had been for the previous four or five years. 10 wins out of 12 were achieved from the beginning of December to the end of February and thereafter results were about even, with good wins against Leighton Buzzard and Stockwood Park. The only significant blots on our record were a heavy defeat at home to Berry Hill and a second defeat by neighbours Old Leamingtonians, in the Boxing Day game. John Williamson took on the kicking duties and finished as top scorer with 133 points. Andy Davies led the try scorers with 12, closely followed by Tim Byford who scored 11 from the back of the scrum.
First XV 1986-87 Tim Byford, Maurice Goymer (Chair of Selectors) Rob Jenkins, Steve McGee, Dennis Brown, Steve Harris, Lester Turner, Paul Ackerman, Kevin Oliver, Pete Marshall, Bill Dalton (coach) Andy Davies (captain) - Simon David, Stuart Mallinson, Dicky Davies, Gary Taylor, Dudley Turner, John Williamson, Marcus Greenway
A quietly spoke Irishman called Frank Wilson rang the club after Christmas asking whether we could fit him up with a game, although he explained that he hadn't played for some time and might not be up to it. After a few games for the Stags he started to look quite good and people became curious about him when he dropped out in conversation that he knew Mike Gibson and that he had played for the CIYMS club in Belfast. Maurice Goymer happened to be leafing through one of his Christmas annuals when he saw that Frank had played three times at full-back for Ireland in the Five Nations in 1977. Frank arrived with impeccable timing as Gary Taylor injured his shoulder against the West Midlands Police and he came into the side at fly-half and played there for the rest of the season and the first half of the next.
Prop-forward Chris Shoesmith was captain of the Extras, but as often happened to Extras skippers he spent most of the season in the first team. They defeated Warwick and GEC Coventry in the early rounds of the Warwickshire second team cup, but lost by a massive 61-6 at Newbold in the quarter finals. They finished with a similar record to the first team but their form was patchy throughout with short runs of wins followed by similar runs of defeats. Lower down the sides we were having real problems. TheSpartanswon only 11 of 36 games and finished on a low note with a run of 8 defeats. The Stags under Richard Armitage had a very similar record and at one stage of the season lost 11 in a row. Their low point was a record 104-0 defeat at Berry Hill in February. Norman David's Tigers fared even worse. They had difficulty in raising a side or getting opponents early on and only five games were played up to the end of November. Thereafter it was a disastrous season which finished with 1 win out of 13, during which time they scored only 36 points, failing to trouble the scorer in 8 of their games.
Fortunately, the Colts, captained by Simon Boyle, were strong all season and won 21 games, with a dominant pack and talented three-quarter line. Alistair Moffat, Graham Wilcock, Nick Gardner, Lyndon Sinnett, Simon Boyle and Andy Howard (pictured left) all played in the Warwickshire Colts squad that won through to the final of the NatWest Shield at Twickenham with Moffat playing at full-back in the final. In the Warwickshire Cup, hard won victories over Newbold, Silhillians and Nuneaton took them into their fourth final at Coundon Road where they lined up against the holders, Barkers Butts, who had beaten them comfortably a few weeks earlier. This time our forwards dominated the game and we went ahead with a try from scrum-half Nick Gardner. Barkers scored an equalising try against the run of play mid-way through the second half but we were not to be denied and a break by Laurence Boyle was finished off by a try for speedy winger Neil Wilson, which was converted by Miller Crockhart to secure the Cup for the Colts. They fell just short of a double, losing in the final of the Warwickshire Colts Sevens, played at Solihull
Eight of the Colts cup final squad came from the Guinness record breaking junior squad.The invincibles bowed out this season as they completed their progress through the junior ranks as under-17s and again won all of their games, mostly by big scores and conceding only one try all season. Having begun as the Under-10s in 1979-80, over 8 seasons they played 155 games, winning 147, drawing 5 and losing only 3. They won every tournament they entered and scored a total of 4820 points and conceded only 224. Future first team players to come through this side included Laurence Boyle, Guy Stanton and Peter Griffiths.
The third year of the Pottertons' under-21 floodlit competition attracted the usual strong field. We were drawn in an extremely difficult group and the opening game was lost 13-26 to Nottingham. In a much improved performance we then beat Burton 22-4, with tries from Mark and Alan Tucker and two from scrum-half Nick Gardner, but a 36-12 defeat against Coventry in the final group game put us out of the running. In the semi-finals, Nottingham defeated holders Northampton and Coventry overcame Lichfield, to set up a repeat of their group game which had been won easily by Coventry. This time the well organised Nottingham side prevailed, winning 9-4. In the end of season festivities we fielded an over-35 side in the second running of the Old Warwickians veterans tournament,which we won, beating Stoke Old Boys (9-0) and Old Yardleians (18-0) on the way to the final where we defeated Broadstreet (18-0) thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Peter Preece.
Under 21s (October 1986) - Brian White (Team Manager), Darren Bird, Simon Lee, Tim Owens, Richard Smith, Dicky Davies, Alistair Moffat, Stuart Mallinson, Jim Casey - Matthew Bolton, Simon Boyle, Mark Turner, Mark Harvey, Steve Harris (captain), Bruce Grant, Richard Messenger, Lyndon Sinnett
Old Warwickians Veterans winners 1987 - Brain White, Jim Poynter, Mick Brain, John Kane, Tony Evans, John Wheildon, Bob Hickman, Rod Philpott, Kit Forrest, Peter Preece (in his England socks), Fred Emeney, Phil Marsland, Chris Shoesmith, Bill Dalton
The Mercia Merit Table came to an endas early in the season the RFU announced the introduction of an integrated league structure from the top to the lower echelons of the game, to commence in 1987/88. Over seven years the merit tables had provided a useful introduction to competitive rugby but had little impact on the game, with no relegation or promotion, nor the absolute necessity to fulfil all the fixtures. We were fortunate that with the availability of floodlights we were able to play more games than most, by accommodating teams against whom we did not have a Saturday fixture and by rearranging games lost to bad weather. In this final season we had a creditable 6 wins out of 10. And so, as we entered the era of league rugby, the Firsts and Extras were holding their own against our traditional opponents. However our usual strength throughout the club was on the wane, with the Spartans, Stags and Tigers all having had poor seasons - almost disastrous by comparison with previous years. On the other hand the future progression of players through the club was looking bright, with a strong cohort of ex-Colts already making their reputations and the Colts side back to its best after three years of rebuilding. Behind them the invincible under-17s were coming through into the Colts and promised great things.
Tom Commander died in January 1987 aged 73. He joined the club in 1930 and had the distinction of captaining the first XV either side of the war. He played mainly as a second row and was thought good enough to have gone first class. Brian Griffin a modern stalwart was elected as an Honorary Life Member at 1987 AGM
The summer of 1987 was a watershed for the game of rugby. The inaugural Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand during the summer and England played so poorly the RFU came to realise that if we wanted to compete effectively at international level we had to take a more professional approach to the game and the Geoff Cooke/Will Carling regime came into being. It followed that if the national side was to become more competitive, then club rugby had to change. The decision had already been made to introduce league rugby in ngland and this began in 1987-88, following several years of national and county cups and merit tables.
The RFU established a top to bottom league structurefor England and clubs were placed in this according to some magic formula relating to their status as first class or junior clubs, the strength of their fixture lists and their results. The first class clubs were accommodated in three national leagues and two area leagues covering the north and south. Below this there were four regional divisions. Our ambition was to be included in the top Midlands league, but we were placed in Midlands West, the second level, along with Burton, Bromsgrove, Dudley-Kingswinford, Evesham, Hereford, Newbold, Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Worcester and Dixonians. Our main local rivals - Kenilworth, Stratford and Old Leamingtonians were in the Warwickshire & Staffordshire League which was the next one down. Below this there were Warwickshire Leagues 1 and 2 which accommodated the smaller clubs, with provision for a third league if needed, as not all clubs felt it worthwhile to take part and preferred to continue with friendlies for the time being. Teams played each other only once (either home or away) and with only 10 games in total, the league matches represented less than a third of the fixture list. Most of the traditional fixtures were therefore retained but it was the beginning of the end for the arrangement by which clubs could play six games against each other, all the way down the sides. Eventually more fragmented and localised fixture lists came into being. Clubs could no longer choose (or avoid) their opponents, and league rather than historical status was to become the key to better fixtures.
In preparation for the brave new world there were big changes on the Club's committee. Maurice Goymer took over as President, supported by Roger Maycock as Chairman and Peter Payne and Dave Scannell as Secretary and Treasurer respectively. There was a determination to exploit the advantages of competition and to maximise the opportunities that a successful town club could achieve by obtaining sponsorship. The club signed up with Cartransport Ltd [later to become BRS] as our first main sponsor. Over the next few years the practise of sponsoring pitch-side boards, programme advertisements, shirt logos and lunches prior to games became an important feature of the work of the club.
First XV - 1987-88 (at Kenilworth) Dave Jagger, Phil McGaffin, Hugh Morgan, Tony Philpott, Steve Chesterfield, Peter Gray, Tim Byford, Peter Elliott, Andy Poole, Bob Mallinson (coach) - Nigel Brembridge, Bill Parks, Andy Davies (Captain), Stuart Mallinson, Steve Harris, Simon David
Andy Davies continued as skipper, but inspirational scrum-half John Williamson had moved on to try his luck with Coventry. Otherwise our side was more or less as before and with a supply of good young players coming through. However, despite this promising position we entered league rugby in a state of some disarray. Unfortunately no-one told Phil McGaffin that it was not a good idea to have his wedding on the second Saturday of the season and to invite half of the first XV, when this was the opening week of the league programme! Seven of the ten league games were played in a concentrated period of nine weeks during September and October, so a good start was vital. We opened our season against Dudley-Kingswinford and because of the wedding fielded an under-strength side and although we took an early lead with two Frank Wilson penalties, we were overhauled late in the game and went down 10-6. The team in ourfirst league game was - Alistair Moffatt, Dave Jenkins, Rod Philpott, Stuart Mallinson, Tony Philpott, Frank Wilson, Colin Aston, Pete Read, Brian Taylor, Dennis Brown, Ian Oliver, Pete Marshall, Eamonn Atkinson, Alan Reeve and Steve Chesterfield
Two of the next four games were won, against Evesham and Burton, but by the end of the opening series of matches we were in deep trouble with only two wins from seven and one place off the relegation zone. Things got worse when the Warwickshire Cup got underway in November. After a comfortable opening round win over Shipston we faced GEC Coventry at home and had the usual dilemma of deciding whether to play the Saturday fixture or not. In the event we played Hertford on the Saturday and won 21-4 with the best performance of the season so far. Fielding much the same side the next day we found it hard to get going but led 16-3 after an hour and were well in control, only for the visitors to rally and score three late tries to knock us out by a point. Major changes were then made to the side with Bill Parks, Nigel Brembridge, Peter Elliott and Chris Jagger coming in, Stuart Mallinson moving to fly-half and Steve Harris to the second-row. The changes did the trick and we were unbeaten for the remainder of the calendar year, including local derby victories over Kenilworth Stratford and Old Leamingtonians. It wasn't to last however and a league defeat to a strong Bromsgrove side at the beginning of January ended our run and our form dipped badly with only three wins in eleven leading up to what proved to be the vital match at home to Newbold in mid-March. The Bold were having as bad a time as we were and the result would decide which of us would go down with Evesham. In a tight and dour contest, on a dull day, our forwards were dominant in the set pieces but Newbold were better in the loose and we could not control the game. A penalty by centre Bill Parks put us ahead, only for Newbold to take the lead with a try. A converted try by Parks put us in front for a second time but again Newbold came back with a converted try to go 10-9 up at the break. Despite going close on a number of occasions we could not turn the game around and an exchange of penalties left Newbold as winners by 13-12 and down we went.
Although we had not played well when it mattered, the overall record was only slightly less than even and we were still capable of good performances in the friendly games. We lost narrowly at high-flying Berry Hill and we had excellent wins over Paviors, Peterborough, Barkers Butts, Wolverhampton and Stockwood Park who were all playing in Midlands 1. Maybe we would have fared better if we had played in the higher league, or perhaps teams were beginning to take their foot off the pedal in non-league games. Looking to the future, Peter Gray was outstanding in the second-row and was player of the year and we could anticipate his future partnership with Guy Pattinson, who made his debut in January. Guy Stanton and Richard Nuttall, also made their debuts and Stuart Mace came into the front row after Christmas.
The Extras under Denis Brown had another good season and played well throughout, winning 31 times and lifting the Warwickshire Second Team Cup for the first (and still the only) time. Their matches were hard fought and in a 12 match winning streak in mid-season most of the games were won by less than 6 points. In the Cup we had wins over Keresley, Newbold, Manor Park and Trinity Guild in a close final at Keresley, where tries by Mike Cleary and Paul Ackerman clinched the game 8-3. Promising fly-half Mike Cleary was elected as most improved player of the season for his performances in the Extras.
Extras v Berry Hill, February 1988 - Tim Byford, Neil Hulme, Alan Reeve, Paul Mullis, Lester Turner, Paul Ackerman, Brian Taylor, Dave Jenkins - David Payne, Dave Pearce, Tony Philpott, Denis Brown, Richard Nuttall, Mike Cleary, Ade Cleaver
Steve Johnson captained the Spartans, who had a season of two contrasting halves - a dreadful run up to the end of October with only one win, but a strong finish at the end of the season, ending up slightly in credit. The Stags skippered by Richard Armitage had a similar overall record but they started well and were more consistent throughout the season. There was a welcome return to form for Norman David's Tigers who were able to field an experienced pack, with veterans John Lyne, Dave Green, Bob Hickman, Ray Ward, John Hibben, Geoff Challis and Pete Read all featuring during the season. They won 20 matches and enjoyed another good tour, this time to Devon, with their usual guest star Dean Rawlings scoring most of their points.
After their Cup winning success the previous season it was rebuilding time again for the Colts under skipper Ian Oxtoby and they won only 12 games, although this included a 16-12 victory over a touring side from the Far North Zone of New South Wales. The defence of the Warwickshire Cup ended at the first hurdle when an injury-hit side lost 4-14 to Nuneaton. As a consolation they finished the season with another success at the Warwickshire Colts Sevens. The line-up of Guy Stanton, Richard Caldicott, Guy Pattinson, Ian Oxtoby, Dave Standbridge, Peter Griffiths and James Cooper beat a strong entry, finishing with Barkers Butts (by 26-6) in the final. Stanton and Caldicott were reported as the stars of the tournament.
On the representative front we continued to do well. Neil Griffiths won further caps for England, this time at under 18-level and Laurence Boyle played for the Midlands. Peter Gray won his first senior cap for Warwickshire and others represented the county at under-21, colts and junior levels. The Pottertons under-21 floodlit competition was held for the fourth season. Leamington played in a group with holders Nottingham, plus Lichfield and Nuneaton, and again we failed to make the semi-final stage. Northampton won the trophy, putting out Nottingham in their semi-final and defeating Lichfield in the final. In the end of season tournaments, our Veterans retained the Old Warwickians trophy and we hosted the Warwickshire Sevens, but unfortunately went out 16-12 in the quarter-finals to Old Leamingtonians.
Old Warwickians Trophy winners 1988(including Frank Wilson third from left at rear)
Local clubs Southam and Harbury both celebrated their Silver anniversaries during the season, but sadly AP Leamington (formerly Lockheed) folded after 43 years, due to the company deciding to sell their sports field for redevelopment and thereby making them homeless. The club was founded during the war and many of our players appeared for them once we had suspended our activities. In recent years they had provided a rich source of recruits to Leamington. As part of their farewell programme we played a fixture against them and a strong team won narrowly by 13-12. Another end of season game was against Warwickshire Referees Society who won 42-30, proving that at least not all of them were blind.
Under 21s 1987-88- Carl Mace, Guy Pattinson, Alan Tucker, Andy Howard, Lynden Sinnett, Nick Brembridge, Nick Gardner, Richard Smith, Adam Griffiths, Brian White (Rugby Chairman) - Laurence Boyle, Adrian Cleaver, Mike Cleary, Richard Nuttall, Bill Parks, Phil Miles, Peter Griffiths
After a disastrous first season of league rugby, the Club's ambition was to bounce back as soon as possible, which we knew would be difficult, but not beyond us. Relegated to theWarwickshire & Staffordshire League we were to come up against a number of Staffordshire clubs we had not played before as well as Warwickshire neighbours Stratford and Old Leamingtonians, who had finished as runners-up in the first season. Kenilworth had gone down to Warwickshire 1. Dicky Davies moved to Coventry during the summer and Dave Jagger joined Worcester. Newcomers included fly-half Richard Miller, who had been playing in New Zealand and Steve Malling a wing forward from Old Reigatians. Jim Freeman, who was a Cambridge Blue the previous year, also played for a short while during the autumn. Peter Gray (left) was the new captain and he was one of ten former and three current Colts in the side which opened the season - Guy Stanton, Simon David, Dean Rawlings, Laurence Boyle, Dave Jenkins, Richard Miller, Richard Nuttall, Phil McGaffin, Pete Elliott, Dennis Brown, Guy Pattinson, Peter Gray, Tim Byford, Pete Harris and Kevin Oliver
Solihull cancelled our opening game, so we played a rearranged friendly against GEC Coventry, the side that had put us out of the Warwickshire Cup the previous year, and we comfortably gained our revenge. It was then straight into the league programme and a run of four convincing victories over Trentham, Newcastle, Stoke Old Boys and Willenhall, playing a brand of open and attractive rugby and rattling up the points. Warning bells then began to ring as the team suffered a bad spate of injuries and in addition we were forced to do without Stanton, Pattinson and Boyle who were on representative duty for most of the next four months. In the Warwickshire Cup we went through the first round with a comfortable win over Claverdon and then drew Stoke Old Boys, who we had already beaten in the league. Deciding to give the league priority we fielded our first string on the Saturday and nine of our second string for the Cup game. After leading 6-0 at the break we folded in the second half, conceding 28 points without reply and another chance of lifting the elusive Cup was lost.
In our fifth league game we played a strong Leek side and we were struggling particularly with suspensions and injuries at hooker. Pete Elliott and Mike Hein were both unavailable so Brian Taylor was called out of semi-retirement. He lasted 20 minutes of the game before he too was injured and substitute Brain White had to come on and take over. Thereafter we struggled for possession and were lucky to sneak a 10-9 win. The next week we were away at Keresley, who were also unbeaten. Chivy Bywater was the next one to fill in at hooker, but the curse struck again and he went off after 60 minutes to be replaced by student John McCullough who had been brought home from University as emergency cover. We went down 16-9 and the next week suffered a loss to Stratford, which almost put us out of contention for the league and promotion.
In the mid-season break between league fixtures, our early season form ebbed away and our fixture list was wrecked by rearrangements. The problem was that our traditional fixture list was stronger than our league one and many of our listed opponents were trying to catch up with league postponements or were involved in county cups and were cancelling on us. Consequently we were regular visitors to the "fixture pool" and picked up an assortment of clubs, including some relatively easy ones and some very strong ones, including Birmingham and Stourbridge. Having ended the traditional Boxing day game with Old Warwickians, the replacement against Old Leamingtonians was also cancelled after just two years and instead a domestic game between a Leamington XV and the President's XV was introduced as a way of providing a suitably friendly fixture and the opportunity to include former players who had moved away, or were at university and were home for Christmas. The first game ended in a 23-18 win for the Leamington side. The Colts were also arranged to play the "Academicals" on a similar basis.
When the league resumed in March, with three rounds of games left to play, Keresley led by two points from ourselves Stratford and Old Leamingtonians. Although we were to beat Nuneaton Old Edwardians and Old Longtonians, Keresley crushed the OLs and with two relatively easy fixtures to play and the best points' difference they were more or less home and dry. Our final game was against Old Leamingtonians, who were having a good season and had been narrowly beaten in the Warwickshire Cup final. We lined up against them knowing that second place was secure and there was little chance of promotion, but local "bragging rights" were there to play for. In another tight game at the Crofts we went 7-0 up in the first half with a Rawlings penalty and a Byford try under the posts. The conversion was charged down which ultimately proved crucial as the OLs pegged us back in the second half and scored three penalties, to win 9-7.
Overall it was not a bad season with a record points total of 704, but possible promotion was lost over two weekends in November when we were disrupted by injuries and our star Colts were on representative duty. Peter Gray was outstanding at second-row in his first year as captain and Simon David was another leading performer and top try scorer. We were very much strengthened by the constant stream of colts coming through. Richard Nuttall, Leigh Cleary, Ade Cleaver, John Moffat, Lynton Sinnett and Richard Smith all had runs in the side.
First XV 1988-89 Dave Jenkins, Dean Rawlings, Lester Turner, Dave Jagger, Andy Poole, Guy Pattinson, Guy Stanton, Steve Harris - Stuart Mallinson, Chris Shoesmith, Denis Brown, Peter Gray (captain) Peter Elliott, Richard Miller, Simon David
The Leamington Courier for 1988-89 (and for other seasons in the early 1990's) has a number of gaps where results, other than those of the first team were not reported and the usual summary of results is not included in the AGM report at the end of season. Therefore it is not possible to give a full summary of the results. Hopefully, someone has kept the results in their fixture card and these might eventually come to light. What is known is that the Extras, under Dennis Brown, had another good season, starting with seven wins on the trot and winning 24 of the 30 games for which scores are available. To support the first XV, the decision was taken not to enter the Warwickshire Second XV Cup and the Extras were denied the opportunity to defend their trophy. The Stags and Tigers appear to have had close to fifty-fifty records. The Spartans, led byChris Shoesmith, had a spectacular season losing only two games and winning around 30. Masquerading as a veterans' side they also won the Old Warwickians' veterans tournament in April, for the third time in a row, beating Banbury 8-0 in the final.Their typical late-season line-up was - Hugh Morgan, Ed Jessamine, Steve Johnson, Jim Poynter, Des Dillon, Kit Forrest, Richard Nuttall, Pete Read, Pat Riley, Richard Croft, Brian White, Paul Regan, Stuart Mace, Tom Tucker, Rob Hickman
Guy Stanton, Guy Pattinson, Lawrence Boyle and Neil Griffiths (pictured left all played in the Warwickshire Colts side which reached the final of the county championship. John Moffat also played in the early rounds. They then went forward into the Midlands side which won the Divisional championship and allfour were picked for the final England Colts squad, although unfortunately only Griffiths was capped. He played in all the games. Also on the representative front, Adam Griffiths and Miller Crockhart played for the Anglo-Scottish under-21 side and Adam played at under-21 level with the Combined Services. With their best players on first XV duty the Colts were left weakened and found it difficult to raise a side. They had a torrid start to the season, losing seven of their first eight games by an average of over 40 points. In the Warwickshire Cup a strengthened side went down narrowly by 6-7 to Kenilworth who had put 44 points past the regular team the week before. There are no further games reported after this point and it is thought that the remaining fixtures were abandoned. With their stars in the side the Colts fielded a formidable sevens team and they won the Warwickshire Colts sevensin September beating Kenilworth in the final and they represented the club in the senior event in April, getting through to the semi-finals. The seven were - Guy Stanton, Laurence Boyle, John Moffatt, Chris Pritchard, Glyn Edwards, Richard Croft, and Neil Griffiths.
The Pottertons Under-21 floodlit competition was held for a fifth a final time. The proliferation of representative rugby, coupled with the demands of the new league structure had stretched clubs' resources to the extent that they could no longer commit themselves to the competition. Only five teams entered - Walsall, Northampton Nottingham (who then dropped out), Lichfield and ourselves. With the reduced entry the teams played each other on a round-robin basis with the two top sides contesting the final. After three years of rebuilding, following our initial success in 1985 we opened with a 6-6 draw against Walsall and lost 6-11 to Northampton. The other results are not known but we ended up in the final against the Saints and in an exiting game reversed the first result to come out on top and win theFloodlit Trophy for a second time,by 23-19, with two tries from Nick Gardner and one from Laurence Boyle.
Under 21's 1988-89 (Floodlit Cup Winners) Dominic Coker, Richard Smith, Laurence Boyle, Lyndon Sinnett, Nick Gardner, Guy Pattinson, Jamie Cooper, John Moffatt, Mark Shipley, Karl Mace - Steve Vaughan, Ade Cleaver, Peter Griffiths, Guy Stanton (Captain) John McCullough, Adam Griffiths, Nial Griffiths, Ian Herbert
Mini and junior rugby was continuing to flourish with about 150 youngsters regularly participating in coaching and matches throughout the season. However, recruitment was not easy and there were signs that demographics, alternative leisure activities and the demise of rugby in local schools was beginning to have an effect on participation. Due to lack of numbers we were unable to field an under-15 side and the long term impact of this would be an interruption in the supply of players graduating to the Colts in future years. Things were healthier at under-16 level where the side had a good season and toured Ireland where they defeated Greystones 33-8 and lost 9-12 to Palmerston de la Salle. They also came out on top in an early season tournament to find the Stars of Tomorrow, organised by Stratford. We defeated Stratford and Kenilworth and guest side Doncaster to lift the trophy.
Winners of Stratford "Stars of Tomorrow" Tournament Simon Payne, Simon Grinnell, Tim Cowley, David Machin, Stephen Moorehouse, Nick Ingram, Peter Broome, Adam Clarke, Stephen McCluskey, Mark Long-Leather, Justin French, Jeremy Payne, Kenny Johnson, Paul McGreevy, Alex Everard, Andrew Sheridan, Vishal Kundi, Danny Sparks
Leamingtonv President's XVAndy Howard, Dave Mortimer, Mark Shimwell, Jim Freeman, Bob Mallinson, Stuart Mallinson, Chris Jagger, Richard Smith, Tim Byford, Steve McGee, Dave McKowen, John Lyne, Jamie Blackburn, Pat Callaghan, Alistair Moffat, Brendan O'Sullivan, Lester Turner, Pete Elliott, Bruce Grant, Steve Harris, John Moffat, Malcolm Fry (ref) - Dave Ward, Dean Rawlings, Dicky Davies, Laurence Boyle, Adam Griffiths, Dave McGee, Richard Nuttall, Nick Brembridge, Simon David
After gaining the runner-up spot in the Staffordshire & Warwickshire league, the previous season, it was hoped to go one better this time. In order to provide some help with this, an advertisement was placed in the press for a new club coach, but we failed to attract anyone. Instead we managed to come up with an in-house solution by recruiting Dave Reeve and Rob Hickman to take on the role between them. Reluctant and hesitant at first, they quickly grew into it and with their drive and determination became a huge success. An important tool at their disposal was a new "state of the art" scrummaging machine which had been purchased at a cost of over £4,000, with the help of donations and loans from club members. This was to prove invaluable in helping the forwards develop their scrummaging, as opponents were soon to find out.
Guy Stanton, Guy Pattinson and Laurence Boyle moved en-bloc to Moseley in the summer to progress their promising careers and Stanton and Boyle were to play regularly in the first team. Boyle, who had played for England at Under-16 level, made tremendous progress and was rewarded with selection for England Under-21's at the end of the season. Replacing them was to prove difficult and we were generally short in the three-quarters, but veteran Tony Murray came in at full-back after several years playing down the club and we were pleased to welcome back Simon David and John Williamson. Both proved to be prolific try-scorers with David's speed, strength and elusiveness on the wing and Williamson's sniping behind the pack proving hard to handle.
First XV 1989-90 BobHickman (coach), Dave Mortimer, Stuart Mallinson, Dave McGee, Phil McGaffin, Tim Byford, John Lyne, Kevin Oliver, Geoff Walker, Peter Gray (captain), Dave Reeve (coach) - Dudley Turner, Simon David, Richard Miller, Richard Nuttall, Mike Hein, Tony Murray, John Williamson, Stuart Mace
The opening game was a friendly against newly merged Birmingham & Solihull and we were the first club to play them in their new guise. A narrow 6-10 defeat put us in good heart for the opening league fixture against Handsworth, in which former colts Neil Griffiths (who had also just made the England under-21 squad) and Jon and Alistair Moffatt all played. Three tries by Williamson helped us get off to a 32-12 winning start and this was followed by a victory over Newcastle, when were recovered to come from behind. In the third match we went down 11-12 to Tamworth in unfortunate circumstances, when despite scoring the only two tries of the game through Richard Nuttall, the match was settled by four penalties against us. The last of these decided the game in very controversial circumstances. With the ball going into touch around the half-way line a Leamington player retrieved the ball and kicked it back to the approximate position of the line-out only for the referee to rule that he was trying to delay the restart and award the vital kick. According to Bernard Gallagher, our press correspondent at the time, there was hardly a penalty given against us all season that anyone other than the referee saw and hardly a try conceded when everyone, except the referee, saw an obvious forward pass. But he recalls this as being the worst decision against us that he ever witnessed. It was true however that our high penalty count was a major weakness and cost us in many games. Ironically the club won, for the second time, the Warwickshire referees Whistler Trophy as the most hospitable club, but this was all they gave us and less penalties would have been equally welcome.
With this early defeat in a league programme of only 10 games we expected that we would have to win all our remaining matches to be promoted. Willenhall were next up in what in the end proved to be the decisive game. A pushover try scored by Williamson clinched a tight game by 9-3 and further wins against Leek, Coventry Welsh and Stratford left us in a triple tie at the top with Tamworth and Willenhall at Christmas, with three games to go. The scrum had now bedded into a formidable unit and was pulverising the opposition, with pushover tries rapidly becoming its trademark. Tim Byford scored three in the Coventry Welsh game.
In the Warwickshire Cup the Saturday games were cancelled, so we didn't have to play two games in a weekend. This meant forgoing some strong traditional fixtures against Kenilworth, Burton, Sutton Coldfield and Mansfield. In the opening round we came through a surprisingly tight game against Manor Park and then we were paired with GEC Coventry who had put us out two years earlier. This time, there was no mistake and we went through 7-6 in a game which was not as close as the score suggests. Dave Jenkins scored a hat-trick of tries against Rugby Welsh in the third round which brought us up against Old Warwickians in the quarter finals and resulted in a 37-0 victory, with Richard Nuttall scoring a hat trick. In the semi-final in February we played holders Bedworth at Sutton Coldfield in appalling conditions, with a gale force wind driving icy rain down the pitch throughout the match. We achieved a 10-0 lead with the wind, due to a Peter Gray try and two penalties from John Williamson, but in the second period Bedworth turned the game around to win 11-10 as the weather worsened in their favour, to the extent that it became almost unplayable.
Dicky Davies returned from Coventry at Christmas and took over the hooking duties, but unfortunately wing-forward Steve Malling was forced to retire due to injury. Kevin Oliver was pressed into service to cover the absence of skipper Peter Gray who was sent off twice and served two suspensions of six weeks each. This put great pressure on the second-row position with others out injured and veteran John Lyne had to play continuously. Another newcomer to the side was fly-half Richard Caldicott (left) who had come through the mini and junior ranks and was re-writing the record book for Warwickshire College's team. A strong and clever runner and an excellent kicker he made his debut in December and by January he was a regular in the team. Tragically, with a potentially glittering career in front of him, he was killed in a road traffic accident at Stoneleigh at the beginning of March, on his way to training at the club. This put a damper on things but made us all the more determined to finish the job and win promotion when league games resumed the next week.
A league record 48-6 win over Nuneaton Old Edwardians set us on our way with the pack coming together to devastate the opposition and John Williamson taking advantage to score a record equalling five tries. A nervy victory followed against Old Longtonians, when from 15-0 up at half-time we were pegged back to 15-9 and were hanging on at the end. With Willenhall having completed their programme with only one loss (to us) we needed to win against Old Leamingtonians in our final game to clinch the title on points' difference. The game was played at Moorefields on a sunny afternoon at the end of April and the old boys, who had beaten us in our only two previous competitive encounters, were keen to deny us promotion. It was never going to happen and although it was a nervy encounter, we controlled the game throughout and two Stuart Mallinson penalties and a converted try from John Williamson saw us home and we were promoted to Midlands 2where we had started from three years earlier.
The line-up was - Tony Murray, Simon David, Dudley Turner, Richard Miller, Dave Jenkins, Rob Mallinson, John Williamson, Phil McGaffin, Dicky Davies, Stuart Mace, Kevin Oliver, Peter Gray, Tim Byford, Steve Harris and Simon Boyle with Matt Colin and Richard Nuttall as replacements
Our future prospects looked good as we had developed a good balance between backs and forwards and in friendly games against teams from higher divisions we had acquitted ourselves very well, including narrow losses to Bromsgrove, Birmingham-Solihull and Barkers Butts and good wins over Hinckley, Wolverhampton and Newbold. The coaching team of Dave Reeve and Rob Hickman had proved to be a great success and they were rightly chosen as joint clubmen of the year. Scrum half John Williamson effectively became the third man in the coaching team and he was elected as player of the year. Stuart Mace was the most improved player.
After their collapse the previous season it was intended to revive the Colts and although three games were played in October, there was a lack of players. It was decided therefore to cancel their fixtures and allow the players to move into the senior sides and to focus on the under-17 junior colts to rebuild our strength for the next season. The team had begun to show its promise the year before as under-16s and under the coaching and management of Peter Payne, his "Poppets" had a spectacular season sweeping all before them in brilliant style. In 20 games they won 19 and lost only once, going down 15-16 to Nuneaton after having led 15-0. Paul McGreevy was their top scorer with 197 points and Kenny Johnson topped the try scorers with 23 touchdowns and was colts' player of the year. In a tour to Holland before Easter they were due to play the Dutch national team, but this was cancelled and they played two local clubs, scoring 70 and 100 points without reply. Two weeks later they took part in a national invitationtournament atVale of Lune and defeated Otley, Clevedon (who had been named by Rugby World as the best junior team in the country), Saracens, Moseley and Vale of Lune to reach the final where they played Pontyllanfraith, a side drawn from several of the top Welsh clubs. Although we lost the final we could claim to be the best side in England.
Vale of Lune 1989- Simon & Jeremy Payne, Simon Grinnell, Tim Cowley, Stephen Moorehouse, Nick Ingram, Peter Broome, Stephen McCluskey, Justin French, Kenny Johnson, Paul McGreevy, Alex Everard, Andrew Sheridan, Vishal Kundi, David Ogden-Wetherall, Alan Dent, Paul Farmer, Glynn Halford, Steve Hawkins, Jason Standbridge, Matt Davis and Dan Sparks
The Extras had a mixed start but more than held their own and finished on a long winning run. Like the first team they lost to Bedworth in the Warwickshire Cup. The Spartans and Stags had fairly even records. Norman David stood down as Tigers captain after nearly a decade in the job. This role was vital to maintaining playing numbers and by ensuring that the Tigers played each week, irrespective of availability, injuries or cry-offs, the risk of the Stags and Spartans being short-handed was minimised. Norman's determination to play at all costs led him to adopt some interesting tactics to ensure he got a side together. The situation on Saturday morning was often that there were only six or seven players available. Norman would hunt down any potential recruits unwisely shopping with their wives in town, armed with a response to any excuse. No boots - "I'll lend you a pair". He always seemed to know who was around visiting relatives and they were kept away ................................