A Look At The Other Clubs in Division 1 Central
Next up we look at Rugby Town.
Manager: Dave Stringer
In 2005, after a gap of 32 years, the name Rugby Town appeared once more on the Southern League fixture list. The first competitive match was in the Rugby and District League on September 8, 1956 under the name of Valley Sports; the name was taken from the "Happy Valley", the local name for New Bilton. At this stage, The club played at Hillmorton Recreation Ground, and in due course moved to share the Oakfield ground of Southern League Rugby Town.
As with so many other towns supporting Non-League football teams, the history is not straight forward, and this particular Rugby Town club traces its origins back to the early 1950’s when Keith Coughlan formed a team in the New Bilton area of Rugby. Sky blue was introduces as the club colour in 1959 combined with navy blue.
The first competitive match was in the Rugby and District League on September 8th 1956 as Valley Sports, the name taken from the local name for New Bilton, “Happy Valley”. At this stage, The Valley played at Hillmorton Recreation Ground, and in due course moved to share the Oakfield ground of Southern League Rugby Town. In 1971, the club changed its name to Valley Sports Rugby.
Keith always had his sights set above purely local football, and in 1963 moved the club into the Coventry and North Warwickshire League, and in 1969 into the United Counties League.
In 1973 the club moved to its own ground at Butlin Road and in the same year Rugby Town folded after 15 seasons in the Southern League. Valley Sports became the senior club for the town, and abbreviated their name to VS Rugby. VS moved from the United Counties to the West Midlands League in 1974, and in 1976 entered the FA Cup for the first time.
In January 1981 Jimmy Knox was appointed manager. Jimmy had been a successful player and manager at Rugby Town, before a spell as top Non-League manager at AP Leamington. His reputation enabled him to survive defeats in his first five matches and ten defeats in the first eleven. The following season he led VS to success at Wembley in the FA Vase and into the Southern League.
After a gap of 10 years, Rugby again had a representative team at this level. During Jimmy’s 10-year spell, the club moved into the Premier Division, won the Southern League and Birmingham Senior Cup, and had memorable FA Cup encounters with Northampton Town, Leyton Orient, Bristol Rovers and Bristol City.
Jimmy Knox left Butlin Road in the summer of 1992 with the team 3rd in the Premier Division and the Birmingham Senior Cup again behind the bar, and his departure led to a rapid decline in club fortunes. VS were relegated for the first time in their history, and then put into liquidation.
A group of supporters, including founder Keith Coughlan, rescued the club, and manager Ron Bradbury stayed on to gain promotion behind newly formed Rushden & Diamonds.
That season led on to the lot of most clubs – years of struggle. However, developments around the ground with a new 500 seater cantilever stand with dressing rooms underneath, a refurbished club house bar and a pitch better than it had ever been before put the now renamed Rugby United in a position to compete in the Southern League Premier Division following the reorganisation of Non-League football.
The grant from the Football Trust to develop all-weather floodlit junior and senior pitches at Butlin Road, together with the complex of junior pitches in Hillmorton, have led to the joining of nationally acclaimed Rugby Town Juniors and senior club Rugby United under the Rugby Town banner.
The original Rugby Town played in the Birmingham Combination for 15 years from 1919 to 1934 before being wound up.
A new club was formed in 1945, starting in the Central Amateur League and then moving into the United Counties League. In 1950 they turned professional, amalgamated with Oakfield and moved to their ground. They joined the Southern League in 1958, and completed 15 years before folding.
Valley Sports, Valley Sports Rugby, VS Rugby, Rugby United and now Rugby Town.