The Victoria and Walcot Rugby Football Club 1882-1895
It is natural for any club to take pride in its ancestry and Walcot Old Boys RFC is no exception. It had always been known that prior to first appearing under the banner of Walcot in 1895, the Club had existed under the name of "Victoria".
Indeed, this previous existence was confirmed in the Bath Herald of Friday 20th September 1895, by a sports section report which commenced:
""The Victoria" has changed its name and the Club this year will be a parochial association comprising the parishes of Walcot and St. Stephens".
It is immediately apparent as to which parish became the dominant partner. The "Victoria" connection was maintained at that time by incorporating a Victoria Cross insignia in light blue of the left breast of the otherwise all black 1st XV jerseys.
This insignia, representative of our country's highest award for bravery, has continued and will continue as an important part of Walcot Old Boys heritage by its inclusion in the design for the Club tie and badge.
It was during his research of material for the Club's first history book, titled "65 years of Rugby Football" that Tommy Hicks has the Victoria connection further confirmed verbally by the last survivor of the 1895/96 team, Mr Alf Bryant, who died age 85 in 1967m and whom he interviewed (with four others of that era) in depth on the Club's earlier years.
Tommy's history, a marvellously informative account of Walcot's rugby fortunes from 1895 to 1960, for which we owe him no small debt, has been a great help in the compilation of this special publication and indeed, extracts from his book have been reproduced in this and the following pages.
Although awareof the previous name for the Club, Tommy was unable to discover any reports on the "Victoria" in the years immediately preceding 1895 and it had been assumed that no record, and therefore irrefutable proof was available.
However, in February1970, following further attempts at pinning the exact start date, Mr Wally Bishop who played for Walcot in 1923/24 gave Tommy another level lead which led to the discovery of a team named "Walcot Victoria FC" that was playing in 1893, with home games in Victoria Park.
The orginal "Victoria FC" with increasingly strong Walcot connections had changed its name to "Walcot Victoria FC" sometime in the early 1890s.
Reference to "The Victoria" was found through news cuttings in the 1891/92 seasons changing to "Walcot Victoria FC" in 1893 and finally to "Walcot RFC" in 1895 thereby completing the continuity from an apparent start date of 1891.
The "Old Boys" addition became more widely used and was finally adopted officially just after the 1st World War in Walcot's second reformation period.
It was not until 1891 that research by friends and officials of another long established local rugby club, Avonvale, whose own origins also start in the 1880s unearted reference to "The Victoria" in the Bath Herald of December 28th, 1882, some 13 years before the Club changed its name to Walcot RFC.
In the football column of that issue appeared:
"VICTORIA FC V MR J ASCOTT'S XV - This match was played on Claverton Down on December 26th and resulted in a draw, each side having obtained three tries and three touchdowns. W Garrett played well for the VFC, and W Millage and E Toogood for the scratch team."
(Proof that special Boxing Day games were order of the day even that long ago!)