Did you know the first playing strip Upminster RFC wore was actually the cherry and white hoops you see the Spitfires playing in today?
When URFC decided to adopt the colours of Havering Borough and bought the new blue and gold strip, the Spitfires were handed down the old cherry & white shirts which they continue to play in to this day. The first pitch the Spitfires played on was at Bretons Farm in Hornchurch, which was at one time part of the WW1 & 2 Royal Air Force Fighter Command base and was the primary Spitfire base during WW2. The local area is steeped in Fighter Command history with such famous names as Saunders Draper, Douglas Bader, Alan Al Deere, Bob Stanford Tuck, Paddy Finucane, Mungo Park, Sailor Malan and Richard Hillary who later wrote the famous book ‘The Last Enemy’. Most famous of all was Brian Carbury who had the 1st kill in the Battle of Britain and ended up the 5th highest ace from the battle with 15 kills in total, flew as part of 603 Squadron based at RAF Hornchurch and that’s why today’s shirt has the number 6 preceding the playing shirt number in honour of that squadron. Other Spitfire squadrons based at Hornchurch during WW2 were 266, 222, 74, 64 & 41.
Today’s Spitfires - It isn’t all about rugby though. About 5 years ago, after the Spitfires had been on standby for a number of years, a core group which predominantly make up today’s Committee, got together and with the help of the URFC Main Committee, invited members within the Upminster RFC community and some friends to play a social game of rugby. Some seasoned players, coaches from both the senior and youth sections and some Dads who had, were, or wanted to try playing, were called upon.
It was an instant success and started the Spitfires of today. Some of those players have gone on to become full playing members. A new shirt was designed which incorporated the cherry & white stripes, the blue and gold of URFC on the sleeves and the distinctive Roundel on the back of the shirt to signify our RAF history within the club and our name. As more games were played, due to Spitfires sense of fair play and fun, they were asked to assist with a number of fundraising events which involved us playing against other fundraising sides. Over the past 5 years Spitfires have helped raised thousands of pounds for a number of very worthwhile causes and charities.
One such event was to help support a serving soldier who wanted to swim the English Channel to raise funds towards a rehabilitation swimming pool for an element of the Armed Services. Through that venture and some of our committee’s involvement with the Armed Services, Spitfires have had endorsement from The Special Air Service Regiment Association to raise funds on their behalf (Registered Charity No. 254393). In brief, the SAS Regimental Association provides support for serving and ex-serving members of a number of Special Forces Regiments and their families, who through no fault of their own find themselves in need of help, with assistance even going as far as WW2 veterans who served in those regiments. To say we are proud of this association would be an understatement. A Pilgrims Rugby shirt is on display within Upminster RFC Clubhouse as testimony of the support we have previously provided. If you would like any further information on the SAS Regimental Association, please come and speak to a Spitfires Committee member, or visit their website.
In short, Spitfires Rugby is a fundraising organisation who through its affiliation and support from Upminster RFC, provides social Rugby Union to anyone who wishes to support our activities. We are very proud of our history and that is reflected in our badge, which if you look carefully incorporates the Upminster windmill, the front view of the Mk V Spitfire and the Roundel of the Royal Air Force. Whether you come and play or support us, we hope you feel that sense of fun and inclusion that has always been enjoyed within the Spitfire community. You will see some crazy things on and off the field of play and some long standing traditions that were developed by the original Spitfires back in the 60’s, but most of all, we hope you join in and enjoy our hospitality. We would also like to thank you for taking the time to get to know us a little bit, support our fundraising activities and help provide some assistance to those that serve our country today or in the past.
Gary Cook - Chairman