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I was still at the Kings School when I had my first involvement with WRFC as I was selected to play in the A XV on Boxing Day 1959 against Kidderminster 2nd XV at the Northwick Road ground; the game was especially interesting in that both John and Ian Clapton (father and son) were included in the team. The result was a typical Boxing Day 0-0 draw but I obviously didn’t disgrace myself as the following week I was promoted to the First XV for the home game against Wolverhampton which resulted in a narrow 3-0 defeat.
Until I left the Kings School in July 1961 I continued to play for either the First or A XV at WRFC principally of course during school holidays. I played full time at WRFC right through until October 1967 when I went to work abroad; on leave in late 1969 I played a few games with my last for the Club being on Saturday December 13 1969 which
coincidentally was also against Wolverhampton.
During my time at WRFC I was fortunate enough to play for Worcestershire & Herefordshire and also for the North Midlands with the highlight of my rugby playing career being the North Midlands v Warwickshire match at The Redding’s, Moseley on Wednesday 13th November 1963 when I had the honour of marking the famous Peter Jackson, one of England’s all time great wing three quarters. At that time Warwickshire was probably the most successful County side in the country
and Coventry definitely the most successful club side; in that 13th November 1963 match, 13 of the Warwickshire side were from Coventry and most were international players.
I was invited to join Moseley but decided to stay at Worcester where I had an excellent 1965/66 season scoring 29 tries from the left wing - a club record for tries scored for the First XV in a season, which lasted for 30 years until it was overtaken by Nick Baxter.
I was also a member of the WRFC First XV during the 1966/67 season which produced a record number of victories. I suppose any decade can be seen as a period of change and the 1960’s were no different at WRFC. The team for my first 1st XV match on 2nd January 1960 was: C Waters, D Steele, myself, K Parkinson, D Jackson, A Nicolson, B Wilkes, J Large, G Everton, B Blower, F Rumsey, J Vale, P Plant, J Richardson and I Plant. On the 5th February 1966 the 1st XV that played at Walsall was: M Taylor, N South, J Pickup, G Litherland, myself, D Veale, P Baxter, G Harrison, N Poole, B Blower, M Richardson, M Wishmark, J Richardson, N Curtis and S Gibbs. (That was how the team appeared in the Walsall programme for the match; I have no idea who M Wishmark was and can only imagine it was supposed to be D Hallmark!). The point is that in 6 years the composition of the team had changed drastically and most of the old guard - Cyril Waters, Brian Wilkes, the Everton’s and Plants for example - that had given great service to the Club had retired. The one person who deserves so much praise for his ability and loyalty is Jeremy Richardson, a real stalwart of Worcester Rugby Club.
Other characters I’d like to mention from the 60’s are Bill Mercer and Alistair McKelvie: Bill was the Club’s “hard man” - a feisty ex Navy bloke who despite his sometimes doubtful actions on the field of play, would invariably before any game have to be physically sick! Alistair was a Scot who had come to Worcester to work in the Planning Department of Worcester County Council and was a very useful player; I mention him in particular for one main reason, that being that after the match, possibly once or twice a year, he would then drive home to Campbeltown in Scotland. Take a look at a map and you will see what an incredible journey that was especially as he often went just for the weekend!
Back row standing; A Lea, L Wadley, G Harrison, K Morgan, F Rumsey, W Mercer, A George, N Yiend Front row sitting; P Baxter, C Trott, B Wilkes, J Richardson, E Steele, D Everton, J Poole
The Club also of course played 7 a side rugby and one player who excelled at both 7s and the full game was Tony Bishop; he had the ability to turn on a sixpence and beat anyone but unfortunately like David Campese could sometimes do something really “unusual”. He didn’t stay long at the Club and I think we lost a potential star. Most of our rugby was Midlands based with the occasional games in London and South Wales and our major rivalry and local derby being with Stourbridge RFC; over the time I was at WRFC I think we probably had a 50:50 record against them. I suppose we all have our favourite and least favourite grounds and to me the latter was playing at Walsall where it always seemed to be wet and muddy!
Some other memories of my time at WRFC during the 1960s are:
The 1st and 3rd XVs were always together as were the 2nd and 4th XVs so that if the 1st and 3rds were at home, the 2nd and 4ths would be away and vice verse
One always received a card in the post inviting one to play for such and such a side
Training nights were Tuesdays and Thursdays
For away games we met at the White Hart in Sidbury before boarding Burnhams Coaches
At home games no food was provided for home sides, not even the 1st XV
There were usually more people on the pitch than were watching! Regular watchers were Jim Morrell, Gerry Treloar, Cliff and Celia Poole, the St. John’s Ambulance man and possibly a few others
Bevere was our home ground; I think in 1960 it was still quite a new ground and quite stoney so that there were the occasional stone collecting parties. There were also occasional halts in a game when someone (possibly Les Smith) had lost a contact lens!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at WRFC. It was a happy friendly place (as were the 60s generally) and I don’t recall any particular discord at the Club. I met and played alongside some super people and it’s always good returning to attend Ex Players Reunions to relive old memories.
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