Our History 1 of 3

1. The Early Years...

Early in 1931, the Old Leamingtonians RFC was formed by a number of rugby playing Old Boys of Leamington College. The founders were Stanley Ackerman, a non-player but the inspiration and strength of the early days, and Freddie Judd whose name became synonymous with that of the club for many years. Stanley Ackerman became the first Secretary of the Club and Freddie Judd the first Treasurer.

The first match played was against a Leamington 2nd XV on February 7th 1931 and was won, 16 points to 6. The team was called Old Collegians at this time but they became the Old Leamingtonians before the end of the first season.

Although official meetings were a rarity in the early stages, the first Club meeting was held on September 24th 1931 when Arnold Thornton, Headmaster of Leamington College, was elected as President and R.W.J. Russell as Captain for thhe Club's first full season. Prior to this, the Club had played about once a fortnight from March 1931 until the end of the 1930-31 season under the direction of a number of self-elected officials.

A ground next to the old Leamington College field on Northumberland Road was rented and support was strong enough to field two teams. The teams played in their old school jerseys and until this day, the club still plays in blue and gold hooped shirts.

The Club was hampered throughout its first full season by a large number of injuries, but two sides played regularly. Den Dickens provided the posts and regularly marked out the pitch and Dickie Clement's vans provided a ready-made courier service throughout the town. The Angel Hotel in Leamington became the regular base for the social activities of the Club.

At the end of 1932 the Club moved from the ground in Leamington to a new pitch in Whitnash and in January 1933 the Club played its first match against the school team; now an annual fixture. The Club only fielded 13 men in this match and were rightly put in their place by the school who won 6-5.

At the annual meeting in September 1933 it was decided that each player should pay 1/- weekly towards the expenses of the Club and that when the player had paid in all 10/-, he should be exempt from any further payments.

During the 1933-34 season it became difficult to raise one XV. The standard of fixtures declined the the finances deteriorated but a nucleus of loyal members remained to pull the Club through these difficult times. In 1934 the Club moved to Butlin's field at Newbold Beeches. Initially, Captain Audrey Butlin's father provided the ground rent free.

Results improved again and during the 1935-1936 season the Club was admitted to membership of the Warwickshire Rugby Union - an important milestone in the Club's progress. Most fixtures were played against clubs from the Coventry areas and most of the teams are still on our fixture lists today: Old Wheatleyans, Old Coventrians and Nuneaton Old Edwardians to name a few.

Leamington College allowed the Club to use their changing facilities and showers and the new school headmaster was elected as President of the Club.

In January 1938, full back Stan Parker was chosen as a reserve for the Warwickshire Colts. Another star performer at this time was fly-half Ray Thomas who was sadly to be killed during the war. Bill Thomas became the first Honorary Life Member.

During the 1939-1940 season, a large proportion of the Club's players had been called up. The last game of the seaons was played on April 13th 1940 against Old Laurentians. It was to be the last game the Club played for over 6 years.