Brief History Of The Formation Of The Club Written In Letter To The Then Chairman In 1992
Following my recent letter to you regarding the first Chair and Committee of Pershore Rugby Football Club, I thought You might be interested to share some of my recollections of the formation and early days of the club.
I know that Keith Robinson, in his letter, on occasion of the clubs 30th anniversary dinner, outlined some of the history, and as a further contribution I would like to fill in some of the gaps and enlarge on his theme.
In 1960, Having played some enjoyable rugby at school, courtesy of a very keen Welsh games master, I began playing for Worcester Colts, there being no club of course in Pershore. It was there that I met for the first time Mickey Knott, Roger Wilesmith, and Brian Llewellyn. In the following season other Pershore-ites joined the Colts, namely Tony Simpkins, Terry Rose, Malcolm Healy, Maurice Mitchell and Ken Rowe.
One Saturday, on my way to play in Worcester, I met Keith Robinson, who had, unfortunately had his Evesham Club rugby curtailed due to a motor cycle accident. During the course of conversation the idea was voiced that Pershore should and could have a Rugby Club, the nucleus of a team of Pershore players was already in existence and travelling to play outside the town. It was not long after this that a meeting was arranged and those present included myself and all the aforementioned names. During that meeting Keith was voted the Club Secretary, Maurice Mitchell the treasurer, and myself at the age of nineteen Chairman. Gwyn Butler, who was teaching at the then Pershore Secondary Modern School, was voted team Captain.
A team was formed which was to play its first ever game in September 1962, as yet without a home ground, minus a full set of shirts, very little in the way of funds, but a great deal of enthusiasm. The first game was played away against Avonbank college and we won 13-8. We played six more games before Christmas that year, and we won them all.
Only two further games were played in the new year of 1963, due to the appalling weather conditions and to the difficulty in obtaining fixtures.
During the summer of 1963 Keith and myself looked at all and any possible locations suitable for use as our home ground. Pershore Rural District Council (as it was then) put forward several suggestions for sites, all of which proved to be unsuitable, such as a site in the grounds of the Abbey directly over the old moat, which in those days had no land drains or culverts and therefore had a habit of rising above the filled-up land every Winter. We had several meetings with the Reverend Doctor Peter Moore, who proved to be most helpful, and so it was that the old racecourse at Cornmore (owned by the Church) was offered and leased by the club.
Knowing the premises had several large rooms above the bar we approached Mr Cooper, the landlord of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“White HorseÃ¢â‚¬Â on the corner of Church Street, to request theuse of these rooms. We now had our first changing rooms complete with baths, most of which were free standing tin-ones which had to be filled and emptied by hand.
Due to the vagaries of the licensing hours at the time we were unable to entertain visiting teams on the premises, so after changing we walked to the nearby Saint AndrewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Church annexe to serve the visitors with refreshments (also courtesy of the Ecclesiastical Authorities).
It was not because of the AbbeyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious architectural prominence and influence on Pershore that the design of the current club tie was chosen, but also because of the enormous amount of help that we received from the Abbey Authorities in establishing the Rugby Club.
We commenced the 1963/64 season with a very young team having only two players out of their teens, some of whom had changed their allegiance from football to rugby (including the talented Ken Matthews).
The first Club tie (which I still have) was silver grey, with the letters PRFCpicked out in red and was designed by David Gait, a draughtsman at the Royal Radar Establishment and a member of the team. Another decision was made around this time was that the Clubs colours, and it was John Pettifier, the then Club President, who suggested the scarlet and black which had been worn by the scratch team which played at Pershore before the second World War.
The first dance held to raise funds took place in September 1963 at the Three Tuns in Broad Street, and the first official dinner was held at the Plough Hotel in Pershore.
During the Summer of 1964 we negotiated with Graham Marler, landlord of the New Inn to establish the headquarters of the club on these premises. The bowling alley was used for a clubroom, plumbing was provided courtesy of Mickey Knott, whose trade this happened to be, and I did some of the decorating, this being my trade.
The first tour took place at Easter 1969 (a poster which I gave to the Club several years ago relates to this first tour). Only eight first team members were among the squad, and we set off by coach around 9.00am By 9.30am we were well into a liquid breakfast, the result being a highly inebriated team presented themselves for the kick of at Llandovery at 2.00pm. The highlight of the game was Bill Carey relieving his over burdened bladder during the course of play. His condition did not prevent him from making two of the most aggressive defensive tackles I have ever seen in my life.
Little did we know that this chap peeing all over a corner flag was to become a future Club Captain. Needless to say we were defeated by a margin that I wish to forget.
We travelled to Swansea uplands, having sobered up, and put in some very stiff beach training sessions. We held Swansea to a tolerable margin.
From Swansea we travelled to meet Carmarthen Athletic who were just a little to athletic for us!
The week following our return from the never-to-be forgotten tour, on 3rd May, we played the first ever Templar Trophy final against Ledbury at Malvern with the team at full strength. We defeated Ledbury by 12 points to 6 and that night a good time was had by all at the Winter Garden. I was very proud to have been a member of the team who won the first ever Templar Trophy as this competition was the forerunner of League Table Rugby in this area.
Like most people, seemingly small incidents remain very vividly in the memory, such as standing in the freezing cold before the kick off at Rubery Owen, Darlaston, for two minutes for the passing of Winston Churchill, and travelling to play Ledbury with six of us piled into the back of Tony SimpkinsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Morris 1000 pick up, only to arrive and find that none of us had remembered to bring the team shirts. And of course there are lasting memories of people; people like Keith Robinson and Ian Maple. There were never two more devotees to the edge of the pitch than these two. Keith could be seen in fair weather or foul wearing his Harold Wilson mack, wellies squelching and pipe going full bore, exhortng the team on whilst Ian frantically scribbled notes on the teams performance.
John Clark was the first to gain County honours for the Club, as a Colt, followed by Bill Lyons. During my years with the Club I was privileged to lay alongsidemany good players, four of whom come to mind, The Rev. Ron Lloyd, Chick Peck, Mick White and Roger Wilesmith.
It was during the 1969/70 season that we moved from the racecourse ground to the present pitch at Wyre Piddle, and at a later date the ground was purchased from Mr. Cole, thus setting the scene for the eventual building of the Clubhouse.
Since the introdution of league rugby Pershore have maintained thier status as a level 7/8 club. Experiencing the joys of promotion and the despair of relegation on more than one occasion.
There highest ever league finish was in 2004/05 season when they finsihed 2nd in (what was then) Midlands 3 West South (Level 7). Losing out on the league title to Barkers Butts RFC. Pershore travelled to Newport (Salop) to play off for promotion but were beaten on the day by a better side. During this season they also became the first English club to host a touring team from India. The Indian national side toured the UK, using Piddle Park as a training base and played at a Pershore Presidents XV. Pershores first team squad were complimented by a number of players from neighborouing clubs including Mark Eastwood (Malvern RFC), Nick Godfrey (Droitwich RFC), Neil Mitchell (Moseley RFC) & both Virgil Hartland & John Taylor (Stourbridge RFC). Pershore won 76-6 and India went on to lose against Coventry RFC & Leicester Tigers in the following week.