Heaton Moor RUFC
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Heaton Moor RUFC is a Rugby Union Football club, based in Stockport in the North West of England. The club was formed in 1899. The home ground of Heaton Moor is The Heaton's Sports Club situated on Green Lane, in the village of Heaton Moor, Stockport. The club plays in the South Lancs/Cheshire 2 league.
Formation and early years
In June 1899, a group of enthusiastic and optimistic young men, held a meeting, in which they decided to form a team for their own amusement, and to provide entertainment for their friends and families, and also local residents.
The team's first ground was a field which they rented on Peel Moat Road, it contained very primitive changing rooms at the Chapel House Hotel, on the same road. Regular fixtures were difficult to obtain, as there were only a dozen clubs in the whole of Greater Manchester, due to the breakaway of many teams that joined the rugby league. For their first ever fixture, HMRUFC turned out in a black and white strip on Saturday, 23rd. September 1899 against Manchester Athletic Club in Fallowfield, it was a well battled game, but eventually Manchester came out on top. Their first victory came in the next fixture against the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers on 14 October 1899, this was a euphoric moment for the team as the Fusiliers were a renowned team, with many notable players.
Steady progress ensued, so that by 1903, Heaton Moor was able to turn out a second side, thanks partly to the a merger with the MAC, their first opponents, due to the latter's lack of players. Two of these former MAC members were eventually to serve the Club with distinction. H.S. Johnson was President of Lancashire County RFU from 1928–30, while Fred Jagger was to be Club President for eighteen years between 1934 and 1952.
A new ground
In 1906, the club decided on a move to a new ground on Parsonage Road. The move also incorporated the team's new clubhouse and changing rooms at the Plough Inn and the introduction of our current colours (Red, Black and Yellow). In the years up to the outbreak of World War I, the fixture list was extended to include Birkenhead Park, Broughton Park, Kendal, Liverpool, New Brighton, Preston Grasshoppers, Sale and Waterloo on this side of the Pennines, Headingley, Ottley and Sheffield on the other. Travel to away fixtures was always by train! Increased playing strength also meant fielding three sides, tours to the Lake District, Bedfordshire and the West Country and representative honours. Bainbridge, Brown, Burns and Croxford all played for Lancashire, whilst Bainbridge had the distinction of playing for Midland Counties against the original All Blacks whilst still a schoolboy.
Moor also hosted the 1908 County fixture between Lancashire and Cumberland.
Off the field, the running of the Club was left in the hands of the General Committee, which even selected the teams as the administrative burden was much lighter without a ground and buildings to oversee. Social occasions were a rarity, but an Annual Dance was held at either the Conservative or Reform Clubs. Nevertheless, a certain H. Emmott, who had musical inclinations, Composed 3 walzes named after the Club colours, which became a local "pop till" at the time. The start of (another trend was already noticeable in that members of the same family came to play for the Club, often on the same side. Pride of place must go to the four Royle brothers, who played for Moor in the first fixture. In subsequent years, Andersons, Baileys, Copleys, Halls, Harrisons, Heaps, Holloways, Clovers, Kelleys, McDonald's, McKays, Nelsons, Thompsons and Tunaleys all played.
Post war: 1919-1939
In common with every other club in the country, the activities of Heaton Moor were suspended from 1914 to 1919, but fortunately, the War caused the Club a relatively light casualty list. The first peacetime season proved to be a most successful one with sizeable victories over Broughton Park, Liverpool and Sale and a fine double over Waterloo. Other successful seasons were to follow, but the main focus of attention was to be the securing of a permanent home on Green Lane which had been used since the resumption of playing in 1919.
The driving force behind this venture was the President, William Brown, J.P., one of the most significant members the Club has ever had. Inspired by his energy, influence, and generosity, members and their friends raised what was then a considerable amount of money, £5,000, to purchase and equip the present ground. Mrs. Brown officially opened the new facilities on 14th. October 1922. The Rugby Football Union had loaned the Club £2,000 to achieve its goal and this naturally had to be repaid. Despite the fact that the Club was now running four or five sides, it was proving difficult to make the repayments as well as meeting ongoing expenditure (, so a major event was planned in 1929 to repay the loan. A festival took place over three days in February of that year. Events included, A Ladies Instrumental Trio, A Concert Party, Crystal Reader and Clairvoyant, a play by local junior schoolchildren, a sisplay of Classical Greek Dancing, and Public Dances each evening to the "Metronomes" and the "Heatonians". Given that the highest entry fee charged was 6d. (2 1/2p.), it was to realise a total of £1,200.
Having largely paid off the RFU loan, the Club continued to flourish during the 1930s, even though victories over the major northern clubs were now becoming regrettably rarer. Nevertheless, Moor at this time possessed two of the most versatile and talented players ever to wear the Red, Black and Amber. Joe Heap, wing-forward, fly-half, or centre, was to be Treasurer for many years, whilst Ian McKay, scrum-half, fly-half, or centre, was a consistent goal-kicker and inspiring Club Captain.
World War II onwards. (1939–present)
When World War II broke out in 1939, the Club lost most of its players to the armed forces and in May 1942, the Army requisitioned the ground for the site of an anti-aircraft battery. So ended the first era in the proud history of Heaton Moor RUFC
After the war, the club was short of money and equipment, The constant search for unwanted clothing coupons in order that jerseys could be obtained was another problem. The club decided to write to the RFU in search of funds and gear. The RFU responded to say they were unable to help over clothing and monetary issues. The Club resorted to writing to all ex-players asking them to donate their jerseys back and for a small donation.
On 23 September 1949, The Club's 50th Anniversary was celebrated with a Dinner at The Reunion Club in Heaton Moor. However, in spite of the many difficulties and with much hard work of a few really devoted members the whole Club moved forward. In 1949/50 Stuart MacDonald Captained the team prior to leaving with his brother Peter to join Sale. There was quite a family connection here with his father and uncles having played for the Club prior to World War I, The six victories of 1946/47 increased to nineteen under Geoff Sykes in 1950/51 and out of the twenty-nine games played, a further three were drawn. Important players like Steve Pape, a scrum-half from South Wales and Duncan McLean, who in 1946 won two caps for Scotland, joined an influx of new members who came to the Club from Burnage High School.
In 1953 Robert Huntley of West Point, Levenshulme was commissioned to design a club badge. He submitted two designs and the one that featured the Lancashire roses, the moorhens and part of the Stockport coat-of-arms was chosen. It remains the Clubs badge to this day.
In 1955 the ground, as it now is, was eventually de-requisitioned and the long and protracted dealings over compensation, with the War Office were finally completed. Removal of the concrete alone cost the then huge amount of £550. In terms of results, the Club's fortunes fluctuated considerably during the 1950s, but there was steady progress and, in 1955/56, an 'Ex B' (4th.) XV was formed with an occasional 5th. team to follow. In 1959/60 the Club added a Colts XV to the four sides which were being fielded each week. Ian McKay, who had been Club Captain during one of its most successful era in the middle '30s was in charge of fixtures and Dennis Huxstep, who had joined in 1950 did a six-year spell as Team Secretary before taking over the fixtures job in 1961. Noel Atkinson, then a virile young medical student, captained the senior side in 19S7/58 and has since given yeoman service to Men in many ways not least as Secretary, and then as out President. Ian Sinclair and Jim Walsh shared out almost equally thirteen years as Club Secretary between them.
Other notable characters of this period were, Peter Allen, both as a player and an active participant in all Club affairs, Jim Marsh, a pre-war stalwart, who did two periods as Treasurer, Ted Whiteside, one of the numerous people who have come to the Club from the Vale of Lune. Three-times captain of the Club, Stewart Cresswell, was the man who first became involved with the Colts, and, along with Percy Atack, developed them into a good side, winning a couple of "Sevens" trophies en route to providing the Club with some fine playing material. One of these, Tony Parkinson, played for the Club for nearly twenty years serving a lengthy term as team skipper.
Many of these Heaton Moor members went on to serve valuable roles for Lancashire and even England. The Club has provided no less than four post-war Lancashire Presidents, Reg Hall (1973/74), Jim Walsh (1979/80), Ian Sinclair (1987/88) and Noel Atkinson (1990/91). Jim was, for seven years, County Secretary. Noel served as Honorary Doctor to the County for many years and also took that role on England tours. Ian served the County as both Schools' Secretary and Disciplinary Secretary for many years.
In 1965 the club moved to their current home at Green Lane after much debate, they had established a good site at Parsonage Road but they decided it was time to move on.
The majority of the work on this project was placed in the hands of Peter Kerr who designed the building and who acted as Clerk of Works. Most active members contributed their own brand of labouring towards the building - either in digging foundations, laying floors and joists, and other less specialist building jobs. The more sophisticated work, plumbing, brick laying, roofing, etc., was given out on a contract basis, so in the end the building cost what, even in 1960, was the ridiculous figure of about £4,500. The design allowed for future development and improvements and it is to the eternal credit of those involved in the original project that we have such a fine clubhouse today. Also in 1959, Roger Markland joined the Club and in his years at Moor was a prolific points-scorer and contributed to many of the Club's activities. He was also very involved in the building of the present pavilion.
Charlie Hanley, the former Waterloo & Lancashire winger, joined as Club Coach prior to the start of the 1972/73 season and Mike Bishop look on the captaincy. They had a slow start with the first team winning only two of their first fifteen games. However, a lot of hard work by all concerned augured well for the future and the team only lost two of their last fourteen games. They also beat Waterloo in the final of the Plate Competition al the Manchester 'Sevens' and The team were to go on to even greater things in the future. Not lo be out-done, the Colts won the Buxton junior 'Sevens' at the beginning of that season. Mini-rugby was started at the Club at the beginning of 1973 under the stewardship of Dennis Huxstep who assembled a coaching team, which included Nick Hadfield, Simon Huxstep, Mike McDermott, Mark Pearson and Ted Taylor.
There were two memorable trips to France in May 1973 and May 1975. A few weeks before the first visit the Club received an invitation from the Racing Club de Versailles to take part in their Tournoi International de Rugby. The invitation included an offer to pay for the accommodation of the players and some officials. Moor officials thought that the invitation was too good to be true and that it must have been sent to the wrong club. However, after translation and further investigation the invitation proved to be genuine and arrangements were hastily made for the trip. The main party made the rather laborious four-day round trip in a coach which had been fitted with a speed governor, whilst other members flew to Paris on two-day bargain break packages. The Moor party all met up together in Versailles for a fabulous weekend which included a Civic Reception at the Town Hall and wonderful hospitality throughout the whole stay. The quadrangular tournament was played in the very fine Mountbauron Stadium and the three other clubs taking part were the host club, Saint-Germain and Cardiff HSOB.
To everyone's delight, Heaton Moor won the tournament with victories over Racing Club de Versailles (12-6) and the other French team, Saint-Germain (36-4). Winger Geoff Costello scored a total of five tries in the two games. Mike Bishop was unable to make the trip so Ron Dickson, the Second XV Captain and former first team fullback, skippered the side and did a superb job as well as providing himself with a fitting finale to his playing career. His position as a brewery employee also ensured that the team coaches for both the Versailles trips were well stocked up with liquor and refreshments.
1973/74 was a truly memorable season and almost certainly the peak of the Club's achievements to date. It is therefore very pleasing that so many key members of that successful side can still be seen regularly at Green Lane some twenty-five years later. They include Colin Beer, Geoff Costello, Graham Drage, Roger Judson, John Royle, Brian Wilkinson and Roger Wilkinson. Our Club Solicitor, Philip Davies, was also a member of that great team.
The Club received another invitation to Paris in 1975, when the three other teams taking part were Racing Club de Versailles, the Portuguese team Belenenses Lisbon and another French side, C.A.O. Saint-Cyr. The Club was much more prepared and organised on this occasion and the luxurious Manchester United team coach was hired for the trip complete with bar, toilet, dining tables, etc. On returning, the coach was used by the England soccer team, who were staying in Manchester prior to playing an International Match in Belfast. Skipper Mike Bishop was able to take a strong and youthful side and once again Moor won the competition with wins over Saint-Cyr (33-4) and Versailles (25-0) in the final. Wingers Charlie Beadle and David Belfield were the leading try-scorers with a total of three each over the two games. Teenager Paul Roberts, who made his first team debut in December 1974, was at full-back in both games and kicked a total of 15 points. Paul, a prodigious goal-kicker, went on to enjoy a long and successful playing career with the Club. Playing at prop in both games was Paul Barlow who now lives on Green Lane and is still a regular supporter at our home games. The Tour Manager for both the Versailles trips was Bill Maynard who organised the visits in his usual efficient manner. Racing Club de Versailles were due to visit Heaton Moor in September 1974 but the trip was called off at the eleventh hour, without a satisfactory explanation. Even the French club's President, Jean-Claude Seguier, was left in the dark as he had arrived at Green Lane having cut short a family holiday in Scotland.
Brian Duckworth took over the Presidency in 1975/76 after a number of years service to the Club, both on and off the field of play. His role as Publicity Officer in the previous three years helped to keep the playing exploits and the 75th. Anniversary in the public eye. These exploits helped to strengthen the fixture list and a notable addition was that of Stewart's Melville P.P. in Edinburgh. The First XV played forty-four games under the captaincy of Charlie Beadle, a number only ever bettered before or since by the forty-six played in 1973/74, and he, along with prop-forward Bob Garnett, played in all forty-four. Charlie was a former Sale and Kendal winger who made his debut for Heaton Moor in September 1973 and finished the 1975/76 season as the leading try-scorer with 13 tries. A very successful Easter tour took place to the South West, with victories over Newton Abbot, Paignton and Exmouth, but the low-point must have been the team's exit from the Lancashire Cup when they were beaten 6-0 away to Ford Halewood, a result that was even more unbelievable given their Cup run of only two years previously. Prior to the start of the season, the Club lost two key members of the pack when Philip Davies and Brian Wilkinson accepted invitations to join Sale where they both enjoyed first team rugby.
By 1976 there were eighteen primary schools playing mini-rugby in the Stockport area. This was due to the initiative taken some years earlier by the local Norris Bank Primary School headmaster, Travis Ollerenshaw, who Moor had possibly the best mini and junior rugby sections in the North West and one of the top Colts XVs in Lancashire. The Annual Dinner was held in May 1976 at the Grand Hotel, Manchester, when our principal guest was Mike Burton, the British Lions prop, who is better known today as a promoter, agent and corporate hospitality supremo. This was the last season for the operation of the General Committee in its management of club affairs as it was felt that the 'free-for-all' nature of the committee meetings was not conducive to the smooth running of the Club. The format for its replacement, the Executive Committee, was formulated by Len Mather.
Season 1992/93 marked a turning-point in the fortunes of the Club, both on and off the field of play. Joe James began his two-year term as President and Paul Koller took over as Club Captain. The league structure had been reorganised and Moor was placed in North Lancashire Division One. With the appointment of Alan Pearson as Club Coach, there was a noticeable improvement in the playing performances throughout the Club, although, ironically, the First XV were relegated at the end of the season. The Second XV under captain John Tiny' Goodwin, however, set a Club record of ten consecutive wins. John, a former Moseley Hall schoolboy, made his First XV debut in 1975 and celebrates twenty-five years as a player with the Club in the Centenary season. In early '93, mini and junior rugby was reintroduced to the Club under the control of Peter Heath and an enthusiastic and committed group of coaches. The post of Chairman of Junior Rugby was also created on the Executive Committee as an acknowledgement of the importance of this group to the future of the Club and to prevent any similar confrontation of fifteen years previously. Peter Jackson became General Secretary, a position he still holds some seven years later. During the summer of 1993, we were saddened to learn of the death of Dennis Huxstep. Tom Whelan became Club Captain for the second time in two years in 1993/94 and together with Bill Kindon as Coach, the playing performance of the First XV continued to improve, resulting in their promotion as undefeated champions of North Lancashire Division Two.
For the first time in seventeen years, the First XV won more games than they lost in 1995/96 and under the captaincy of Tony Murton, they finished third in the league, missing the second place spot on points difference. In vogue with other rugby clubs, a ladies team was formed in this season, but to date have struggled to find sufficient numbers to field a full XV and have often had to join with other teams in a similar position to make up a side. Ian Sinclair was presented with a silver salver to mark the 50th. anniversary as a member. The Club was left a substantial legacy by Ted Rostron, a member back in the '40s and '50s, and in appreciation the lounge bar was renamed in his memory.
Tony Murton continued as captain in the next season, 1996/97, again, an occurrence not seen for seventeen years. Moor also had five players from the under-1 3 side in the Lancashire County trials, with Philip Koller making it to the county representative side. Sadly, Ian Sinclair and Ian McKay both died during the season, having between them put 120 years of hard work and devotion into the Club.
The 1997/98 President, Gary Walsh, was the first to take on the position whilst still actively playing, a situation that continued into 1998/99. The Club Captaincy was held by Tony Kirkham in '97/98 and he distinguished himself by not missing a single game, something almost unknown in the modern era.
He was succeeded in the following year by Phil Butcher, a position he had previously held in 1990/91, and he led the First XV on a successful run in the national Tetley Bitter Vase competition, eventually going out 5-26 in the quarter-finals, away to Old Silhillians from Solihull. The side had had the good fortune of being drawn at home in all the previous six rounds, disposing of Clitheroe (27-12), Bolton (25-19), Upper Eden (1 7-12), Oldham (24-18), Congleton (1 3-5) and Leeds Corinthians (28-15), this latter game being perhaps their best of the competition, if not the season And so to our Centenary, which quite neatly overlaps with the millennium - double cause for celebration.
The current coach and captain of the team, are Steve Nicholas and Danny Child, respectively.
- North Lancs 1 champions (2 times): 2004-05, 2007–08