History 1 of 2

1. History 1

In 1875 a young South Shields man called Charlie Green and a bunch of his friends, all aged between 16 and 19, accepted a challenge to play Tynemouth, a prominent local rugby club at that time, and beat them. In high spirits, they discussed forming a rugby club of their own as they returned home on the ferry crossing the River Tyne. The outcome was a meeting at Green's home in Westoe, then a village a mile from the town then clustered along the bank of the river, but now part of the urban sprawl - and Westoe Rugby Club was formed that night.

South Shields Cricket Club, formed 25 years earlier, rented a nearby field from the Church Commissioners and the infant rugby club was allowed to sub-rent part of it - provided they helped the cricketers to level the former ridge and furrow farmland. And Westoe Rugby Club has been there ever since, the ground being purchased for £2,500 from the commissioners just after the First World War, an appeal fund having been launched based on a £1,000 legacy by T Forsyth Wilson, a veteran player and official of both clubs (and representing Durham County at both) A temporary closure during the great conflict was the only time that rugby has ceased on the field - cricket and rugby being played in limited fashion throughout the Second World War.

That solitary pitch, extending almost to the cricket square, remains all that the rugby club has despite running four senior teams and flourishing Minis and Colts sections - two fields a mile away on the outskirts of the town being hired from South Tyneside Borough Council to further provide the playing requirements.

Westoe has always been very much a "family" club with sons following fathers onto the Wood Terrace turf. Playing membership was traditionally boosted by seafaring students from all over the world attending the town's highly respected Marine College, though much less so now that the seafaring industry has diminished and the faculty is reduced to a small part of the local college.

One claim to fame is that it was a Westoe player, F E "Freddie" Chapman, belonging to an eminent South Shields family, scored the very first try at Twickenham in the England's baptismal game there against Wales in 1910. Playing on the left wing, he broke through in the very first minute and, handing off the Wales captain, outran the defence to touch down. He then compounded his slice of rugby immortality by scoring the first penalty and conversion in that game in which England beat Wales for the first time in 14 years, Chapman, youngest of three brothers to play for Westoe, won four England caps and 24 more for County Durham.

In recent times, Westoe won promotion into North Two (East) after a barnstorming campaign in 2000/01 when they were runaway champions of the first division of the Durham and Northumberland League with 21 wins in the 22 games. In the subsequent three seasons they finish in fourth spot, each time making a tilt at promotion.

The big difference in 2004/05 was the recruiting of Kiwi Richard "Arnie" Arnold as number 8 player-coach from Newcastle Falcons where he had a formidable reputation as a hard man, aided by Falcons full back Joe Shaw. Their philosophy of defence, defence, defence was the cornerstone of Westoe's conspicuously most successful season in reaching the Twickenham final of the Powergen Intermediate Cup (beaten 21-11 by Morley) and winning North Two (East), so being promoted automatically into North One.