Issue 90 - Page 30

Fifty years of blood , sweat and glory

The first full club photograph , Spratt ’ s Barn , 1972
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ROYAL WOOTTON BASSETT RFC Our 2021 season marks the club ’ s 50th anniversary , having been formed in 1971 by the original thirteen ‘ Founding Fathers ’ of Wootton Bassett RFC .
The club came into being on the 21st December 1971 at a meeting held at The Curriers Arms attended by :
• Colin Applegate
• John Baker
• David Brown
• Michael Brown
• Ian Campbell
• John Forbes-Keith
• Ian Keith
• Hamish Keith
• Michael Leighfield
• Vernon Nation
• Royston Smith
• Tony Trussell
• Melvyn Wright
At the time , many future Wootton Bassett players were committed to other local clubs , principally Calne Bentleian RFC , so only seven games were played during the club ’ s inaugural season .
The very first match played by a full Wootton Bassett RFC XV took place in February 1972 against a combined team of teachers and senior pupils from the Wootton Bassett Secondary School . The club took this opportunity to give trials to some 40 would-be players , and the recording of a 24 - nil victory was somewhat academic .
The first real match involving a selected XV was against a team from nearby RAF Lyneham , which the Club won by 16 - 8 .
The first defeat of the club was suffered against a ‘ touring ’ side from Middlesex - Pinner and Grammarians RFC - who were engaged on an Easter Tour of the West Country . Other matches in that first season resulted in victories over Swindon College and Minety , whilst Chippenham and Hereford proved to be too strong .
Activities off the field were not neglected during these early months . The first fundraising event took place on 5th March 1972 , when more than 40 enthusiasts completed a sponsored 10- mile walk between two local hostelries - raising over £ 100 towards Club funds . To mark the end of its first ‘ season ’ a Club Dinner for members and guests was held at Noremarsh Farm Hotel .
At the club ’ s first Annual General Meeting , held on 19 June 1972 , the first elected Executive Committee was formed : Chairman : David Brown Secretary : John Forbes-Keith Treasurer : ernon Nation Social Secretary : Ian Campbell Public Relations : Tony Trussell Colin Applegate Team Secretary : Royston Smith 1st XV Captain : John Jones
And on 30th June 1972 , Peter Arkell , the Chairman of Arkell ’ s Brewery , accepted the invitation to become the first President of the Club .
In its first full rugby season of 1972 / 1973 , the club also fielded a Colts XV on two occasions . Home matches were played on a piece of vacant land owned by the Wootton Bassett Town Council . The Clubhouse continued to be the Curriers Arms , where the Club Treasurer , Vernon Nation , was landlord , and on the odd occasion when both teams played at home , the situation in the bar could be described as ‘ intimate ’.
On 1st December 1972 , the club was legitimised by being accepted as a probationary member of the Dorset and Wiltshire County Rugby Football Union .
In April 1973 , land adjacent to Stoneover Lane was first suggested by the Club to the Town Council as a possible venue for playing rugby .
In 1973 , Graham Spencer , a one-time England Colts reserve , was appointed as Club Coach and the design of the first club tie was produced , incorporating the local 19th century Town Hall as the official emblem .
By the end of the season , WBRFC , sponsored by Swindon RFC and Vickers RFC ( now Supermarine ), was accepted as an affiliate member of the Rugby Football Union .
CONTACT THE CLUB Royal Wootton Bassett RFC Ballards Ash Sports Ground Malmesbury Road Royal Wootton Bassett SN4 8DS
07305 780505 www . rwbrfc . club
30