Derek Thompson

One summer afternoon I was stopped in the Grammar School grounds by “Chunkie” Robertson and the conversation went:

Ah! Thompson your leaving at the end of this term aren't you? Yes. Well then go and join Worcester Rugby Club.

I didn’t know such a club existed as then it just wasn't on my, obviously limited, horizons.

I joined WRFC in August 1954, with several others, also propositioned by "Chunkie" for pre-season training, organised and supervised by the captain, on Pitchcroft. In those days there were not Junior or Colts sections so it was straight into the senior sides at 16. Therefore, following the club trials, I commenced in the "A XV" as the seconds were called in those days and made my 1st team debut in April 1955 against Shrewsbury away. We lost 6 – 0, a drop goal and I gave away a penalty. Never a regular, but played occasionally in the 1st team until National Service called in July 1957. I was away for two seasons (1957-1959) whilst serving in the RAF, during this time I played for RAF Hereford and then RAF Nicosia, who, in March 1959 beat the Welsh Regiment. Quite a victory as they were on a run of two unbeaten seasons in the UK and abroad. That year we also reached the final of the Middle East Airforce sevens.

In the early 50s the club played home matches on the field at the corner of Droitwich Rd and Bilford Rd, changing facilities were in The Old Talbot, Sidbury. Occasionally, if the opposition did not come by coach some of us younger lads changed at the pub then cycled to the ground to play and back again. Other favoured drinking places were The Crown in Broad Street and The Horn and Trumpet. However by the mid 50s the new ground and clubhouse at Bevere came into being and despite the Sunday trips with George Everton and his lorry to Stoke Works to load demolition hardcore (by hand) it was a great success.

Worcester Rugby Football Club 1871 - 2021
Back row standing: (?) (?) Bob Paul, Eric Steele, Bill Mercer, (?) Dave Holt, Philip Sawyer, Arthur Wedgebury
Front row kneeling: Derek Ellery, Tony O'Connell, Derek Thompson, Mike Nichols, Mike Jenkins, Roy Padden

In those days there were several "alacadoos" around to offer advice and help, lifts to away matches etc such as Ken Taylor, Ted Burnham, Don Arbuckle, Bill Battin, Ray Shrimpton, John Wilmott, Geoffrey Day, John Flay and Gerry Oldfield, and the senior players such as Cyril Waters, George Everton, John Clapton, Joe Flanagan, Tommy Jones and Lofty Johnson were most welcoming always offering to buy the beer. John Brittlebank was a real inspiration as were the "A" & "B" team captains Tommy Jones and Joe Flanagan. I also made some great friends, most of whom are now gone, but included Paul Burgess, George O’Keefe, Alan Goodman, Bill Mercer, Tony Young, Tony O’Connell etc, in fact Burgess, O’Keefe and myself used to meet on Sunday mornings, during the season, on Pitchcroft, to train and practise passing, kicking, etc.

On demob from the RAF, and, returning home, I re-joined the club, playing mainly in the seconds, with promotion to the firsts whenever Brian Wilkes was on representative duties. However a broken leg in the summer of 1960, following a traffic accident resulted in 6 months in hospital and 9 months in a plaster cast, this curtailed all sporting activity until the 1964/65 season. I did become a regular spectator at home and away. I returned playing, against the advice of the surgeon, on a regular basis, in 1965 until 1974 and then veterans and occasionally in the club sides until 1988.

One of my work colleagues was captain of the Old Halesonians. They were going on tour to Jersey, over Easter 1967, but their regular scrum half was unable to go and I was persuaded. It was a brilliant tour. On our return I completed the season with them, and carried on the following season. However a shoulder injury curtailed my next season and I was replaced by a young man from the colts, who, in the fullness of time went on to play for Moseley. I, in the meanwhile, had returned to Worcester.

I was also captain and organiser of the WRFC Sunday football team. We joined the local Worcester League, in 1968, and won four straight promotions to the Premier League. Since this involved considerable expense for travelling, ground rental, referees expenses, etc and the traditionalists in the club were against us anyway, we decided to drop out. The local stars hated playing against us, particularly when we turned out in wet muddy shirts from the Saturday rugby match and proceeded to take man and ball every tackle.

Despite having not been involved in the new club development, in fact I was one of those who thought it too far out of town, I was asked to join the General Purposes Committee 1974, the first year at Sixways, and, over the following years took on the following roles;


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Rugby at Worcester since 1871

Worcester Greyhounds - 1963
Worcester Rugby Football Club Colts - 1979
Worcester Rugby Football Club First XV - 1956/57
Worcester Rugby Football Club First XV - 1890's
Ladies Night 1958 - Bevere
Worcester Rugby Football Club First XV - 1971
Worcester Rugby Football Club First XV - 1920's
Worcester Rugby Football Club First XV - Promotion 1990