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After seeing the photograph in the December issue of the Digest featuring Knottingley Rugby Union Club, I thought I would put together a few words about when the present club started.

During the early 1960s, myself and a chap called Albert Firth, who lived in Island Court, used to go over to Castleford Rugby Union Club on a Saturday and have a game in their 2nd or 3rd team.

One night whilst having a beer or two in the old Cherry Tree public house, someone mentioned the fact that Knottingley used to have a Rugby Union team before the Second World War. We set about gathering some information about it and were told that Mr. Granville Burdin, a potato merchant in the town, had actually played for this team. With the intention of resurrecting the team I approached him and he readily agreed to be our club Chairman. It turned out to be a first class decision and for many years he was a steady and hard working influence on the formation of the club.

After approaching Mr. Frank Jackson of Jackson Glass, he agreed to be our first President so then the hard work started of raising a team, finding a ground and somewhere to get changed and entertain the opposition.

The Council kindly gave us the use of Howards Field where the present team still play. Our first changing rooms were the old billiards and snooker room above the bar of the Commercial Inn in the Bendles, now called the Steam Packet, where 30 of us attempted to get showered after the match in a normal household bath into which we had one shower. It was then down into the bar for pie and peas (Morris's of course) and many pints of beer.

Our first match was against Leeds YMCA during 1963/64. The reigning Carnival Queen, Miss Linda Blakeston I think, kicked off the match and at the side of the field Granville had brought one of his trailers on which were sat a few of the towns councillors. We won that first match by 15pts to 5pts or somewhere in that region, and when the full time whistle went you would have thought we had won at Twickenham!

The team that day was:

Full Back: G. Grey
Wings: Ian Exelby and Bob Lightowler
Centres: Dick Penty and Stuart Jardine
Half Backs: Sammy Reynolds and Albert Firth
Front Row: Roy Ashton, Bill Hobman, Eric Daniels
Second Row I believe was: Harry Johnson and Tony Brearley
Back Row: Dave Jervis, Brian Hunter, Dave Renshaw
Referee: Ken Cookman from Castleford

Shortly after the first match we were joined by Geoff Knight who proved over the years to be a great team member, going on to become Captain and President.

Over the years, through hard work by many people, the club has gone from strength to strength, eventually having a clubhouse at the side of the field which, through the efforts of a dedicated committee, particularly Mr. Len Lifsey, provided a lovely little clubhouse that for many years was a focal point for many aspiring young players and the scene of many social events.

Within the last couple of years or so a young progressive committee have overseen the erection of a new clubhouse and changing rooms that must be among one of the best in the North of England. The team now plays in the Yorkshire 2nd Division and more than holds its own with the many old established clubs who play in that league.

All the many people who have worked for the club and played over the last forty years or so must be very proud on where it is today and of the efforts to put it there and all would wish it continued success.

Brian Hunter
Past Captain and President
7 April 2007


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