Memorable moments of the last 50 years

During season 2000/01 the home programme contained a series of articles that recalled key events in HRFC’s 50 year history.

April 27 1951 Founding
Sep 29 1951 1st Game
Mar 12 1973 Hants Cup Final
Mar 9 1975 1st Hampshire Cup win
Mar 23 1975 New Clubhouse opening
Feb 14 1976 Roundhay
Feb 10 1979 Rosslyn Park
Dec 11 1984 Balcony Collapse
April 25 1992 Promotion
April 24 1993 Aspatria
Dec 18 1993 London Irish

They are reproduced on the following pages:

April 27 1951 FoundingThis was the day that Havant Rugby Football Club was founded.

The following was written by Gerald Fuller, the Founder of the Club:

I played in the 1st XV at Churchers College, and when I was demobbed in 1947 I joined Petersfield RFC. I, as did all other Club members, enjoyed the Saturday games and especially the aftermath – until….

We were playing at Love Lane one Saturday and, as usual, retired to the Welcome Inn (since demolished) to entertain our opponents with the “friendly jugs of beer”. Unfortunately I was the only Petersfield member present – so I had to buy the beer. My weekly wage was only £4/6/0d, and, having paid my train fare of 3/3d, match fee 3/6d, plus cost of beer (16 pints @ 1/1d) I felt this was a bit much. The same experience happened the following week!

I went home, having done my bit for Petersfield. My young brother, Harry, was home and I said, “Harry, I’m starting a rugby club at Havant”. We sat down and wrote postcards to local friends, put a small announcement (free) in the Portsmouth Evening News to call a meeting at The Dolphin, West Street, Havant, on 27 April 1951.

In addition to Harry and me, 10 people turned up. We bought them a pint and started the meeting.

After a discussion, Bill Jackson proposed we start a Club.

We all chipped in 10/-. We had started with 7 playing and 5 non-playing members.

The pleasure and enjoyment had just begun.

Sep 29 1951 1st Game :29th September 1951 was the date that Havant RFC played its first ever fixture. It was against a team from RAF Thorney Island.

The members of the team that played that day were:

R.G.Catton, G.Drake, ‘Buster’ Fuller, G.W.Fuller, C.Grainger, R.C.Hiscutt, L.Hoad, C.James, P.A.Jones, J.Knox, T.Lloyd, R.Perry, D.Rees, J.Rogers, C.Turner.

The team photo can be seen on the wall of the members’ bar.

Mar 12 1973 Hants Cup FinalThis article was written by Peter Price (Club Captain 1972-75) and is about a particular moment in the game when he captained the side against Aldershot Services in the final of the Dudley Kemp Shield (Hampshire Cup) played at Burnaby Road Portsmouth in Havant’s 21st season.

We had had a cracking season and were confident that we had enough left to take the County title for the first time. We had dipped out in the first final of the competition in 1971 to US Portsmouth and we really felt that this year we could do it although we knew that the army side would be fit and strong. I had the side that I wanted and had been kicking goals from everywhere all season. The ground was dry and hard which suited our style of play although ironically it was just that which partly went against us – but only partly – and I had learned not to tempt providence, but that is another story.

The main reason for our eventual defeat 9-6 was one of the worst refereeing decisions I have ever experienced. We had practised one particular line-out move that we knew we could only use once – the element of surprise was vital – and I had actually checked with experienced referees that it was both legal and in the spirit of the game. It could only be used from about the 25 yard (22metres in new money) line and involved our last man arriving at the tail of the line-out as late as possible to receive a long ball thrown directly to him. We were 9-6 down, time was running out and we called the move.

It worked beautifully. Hooker Mick Chalk’s throw was perfect and Bob Castle caught it to score unopposed.

Unfortunately, it was so quick and clinical that the referee – a well known member of the International panel – disallowed it, mumbling something to the effect that ‘You can’t do that in a line out’.

David Sparshatt was then bundled into touch on the corner flag almost right on time and the match was over.

The fact that the referee admitted his mistake after the match was of absolutely no comfort at all!

The team was:

P.Moore, D.Sparshatt, G.Train, P.Pelham-Jones, V.White, P.Price (capt.), R.King.

T.Copsey, M.Chalk, H.Talman, D.Eveleigh, R.Gould, M.Bosonnet, A Jelley, A.Burnett

Mar 9 1975 1st Hampshire Cup winIt was on this day that the current clubhouse was officially opened by Dudley Kemp, assisted by the Mayor of Havant (Councillor J.V.Derben). At the time Dudley Kemp was President of the Hampshire RFU. The previous clubhouse had been the ‘huts’ that are currently occupied by Age Concern across from the car park.

Following the opening there was a Mini Rugby demonstration which was followed by a commemorative match with Havant playing Mick Molloy’s XV which was practically a London Irish first XV including three internationals. The Irish Full Back was Dick Spring who has, in recent times, been Foreign Minister for Ireland.

The referee that day was none other than Clive Norling.

The Havant Team picked to play was:

Dick Wiltshire, David Sparshatt, Graham Jeffries, Kevin Rosenberg, David Langley, Peter Price, Richard King, Peter Dixon, Richie Gray, Bob Castle, Dennis Eveleigh, Alan Jelley, Tim Copsey, Mick Chalk and Doug Robertson.

Subs were Steve Allan, Viv White and Phil West.

Mar 23 1975 New Clubhouse opening
It was on this day that the current clubhouse was officially opened by Dudley Kemp, assisted by the Mayor of Havant (Councillor J.V.Derben). At the time Dudley Kemp was President of the Hampshire RFU. The previous clubhouse had been the ‘huts’ that are currently occupied by Age Concern across from the car park.

Following the opening there was a Mini Rugby demonstration which was followed by a commemorative match with Havant playing Mick Molloy’s XV which was practically a London Irish first XV including three internationals. The Irish Full Back was Dick Spring who has, in recent times, been Foreign Minister for Ireland.

The referee that day was none other than Clive Norling.

The Havant Team picked to play was:

Dick Wiltshire, David Sparshatt, Graham Jeffries, Kevin Rosenberg, David Langley, Peter Price, Richard King, Peter Dixon, Richie Gray, Bob Castle, Dennis Eveleigh, Alan Jelley, Tim Copsey, Mick Chalk and Doug Robertson.

Subs were Steve Allan, Viv White and Phil West.

Feb 14 1976 RoundhayIt was on this day that Havant were the first Junior Club to play in the last 16 of John Player Cup. The game was at Hooks Lane and the opposition was ROUNDHAY (from Leeds).

The route to the last 16 was:

beat Bournemouth in Hampshire Cup 12-6

beat Oxford 19-18

beat Hemel Hempstead 16-7

beat Thurrock 12-4

Alister Marshall wrote in ‘The Portsmouth Evening News’, ‘The Bedhampton ground resembled a miniature Twickenham. The large bank of tiered seats erected opposite the clubhouse filled quickly with Havant Supporters, many wearing blue and white favours bringing a real cup tie atmosphere to Hooks Lane. After Thursday’s torrential rain the ground was soft and yielding.

Despite a spirited performance we lost 3-24 (HT 3-7). The Havant score came from a penalty by Neil Iliffe

Team:

Dickie Wiltshire, David Sparshatt, Steve Allan, Andy Wilson, Viv White, Graham Jeffries (capt), Neil Iliffe:

Tim Copsey, Mick Chalk, Mike Radbourne, Dave Gibbon, Alan Jelley, Bob Castle, Jim Syddall, Tim Webster.

Reps: Peter Scott, Derek Morris, Richard King, Glyn Gratrix, Mick Earley and Doug Robertson.

At that time Havant were running 11 Senior sides.

1st XV, Dolphins, ‘A’ XV, Barracudas, Marlins, Sharks, Mariners, Pikes, Wanderers, Piranhas, and Colts.

The 1st XV were on a 96% record at the time (Played 23 Won 22).

Feb 10 1979 Rosslyn Park
It was on this day that Havant played ROSSLYN PARK at Hooks Lane in the 1st round proper of the John Player Cup. In those days, Rosslyn Park were one of the top sides in the country and included well known rugby ‘legends’ such as Andy Ripley and Paul Ackford. Havant’s own ‘legend’ (in his own front room), Mick Earley, got a rare selection over his rival Mick Chalk as Hooker for the home team.

Havant’s route to the last 32 was:

Beat Basingstoke 19-10 in the Hampshire Cup

Beat Abbey 9-3

Beat Oxford 7-6

The final score was Havant 0 Rosslyn Park 19

Alister Marshall wrote ‘By goodness Havant you did us proud. The story of the JPC first round match is not in the flattering scoreline, but in the guts, determination and magnificent spirit of the Havant heroes in the rain-lashed quagmire of Hooks Lane on Saturday. Skipper Phil West, who looked as if he had been thrown in at the deep end, then dragged behind a plough (doesn’t he always?), led his valiant team from the field smiling at the end of a cup-tie where the Park’s four tries and one penalty goal victory was more of a tribute to Havant than to the international and county loaded London aces.

The Havant Team was:

Steve Davies, Dave Sparshatt, Derek Morris, Mark Whitehead, Viv White, Graham Jeffries, Neal Iliffe, Roger Bradley, Mick Earley, Al Pearce, Phil West (capt), Les Clive, Doug Moody, Glyn Gratrix, Alan Jelley:

Reps: Ritchie Crooks, Pete Stephens, Mick Chalk and Kevin Withey

The Rosslyn Park Team was:

Ralston, Tiddy, Fluskey, Warfield, McKay, Anderson, Pritchard, Barlow, Keith-Roach, Hinton, Rodgers, Ackford, Mordell, Mantell, Ripley

Dec 11 1984 Balcony Collapse
On this day Havant played a home match in what was then the John Player Cup, the forerunner of the RFU Senior Knockout Cup competition as it s known this season. It was the second round and we were playing the Gloucestershire champions Berry Hill. What was memorable about this day was that it was the day HRFC made the main news when part of the old balcony collapsed under the weight of spectators. Some 30 people were injured, although none very seriously.

Although the game was stopped for a short while, Havant eventually lost 7-27. The Havant scorers were T.Brookes with a try and R.Ashworth with a penalty.

The Havant team was:

V,White, M.Wedderburn, A.Wilson, R.Luckman, T.Brookes, R.Ashworth, D.Ward;S.Richards, D.Moody, B.Napp, S.Morgan, C.Martin, M.Rees, R.Whitehead, A Pearce (Cpt)

April 25 1992 Promotion
It was on this day that, in front of a Hooks Lane crowd estimated by The News as over 3,000, Havant won promotion from National League 4 South to National League 3 to become one of the top 38 clubs in the country.

Havant beat Sudbury 16-9 with tries from Nick Roach and Johnny Garrett, and a conversion and two penalties from Pete Russell. In so doing they finished on the same number of points as Basingstoke, but with a better points difference.

Coached by Brian Powell, the Havant squad that season was:

Rob Ashworth, Jimmy Bates, Nick Berry, Steve Boydell, Rob Davey, Johnny Garrett, Will Knight (capt), Simon Morgan, Glyn Mortley, Sean Parry, Andy Pollard, Dave Rees, Nick Roach, Ben Rouse, Pete Russell, Mark Sheldon, Ivan Torpey, Mark Vickers, Pete Whittle, Rob Whitehead, Andy Wilson.

April 24 1993 Aspatria

NATIONAL DIVISION 3

                            P     W    D    L    F       A    Diff    Pts

Havant             10      8     1     1   173   80   93+   17

Otley                10      7     1     2   254   111  143+ 15

Exeter              10     7     1      2   214   150   64+  15

Redruth           10    6      2      2   152   112    40+  14

Sheffield           10   6      0      4    160  123    37+   12

Leeds                10   6      0      4    185   188     3-    12

Liverpool SH   10    5     0      5     196   110    86+  10

Clifton               10   4      2      4     174    132   42+  10

Askeans            10   3      0      7     119    277   158-   6

Aspatria            10   2      1      7     157    296   139-   5

Broughton Pk   10   2      0     8     117    184     67-    4

Plymouth          10   0      0    10    119    257    138-  0

This was the League table shortly before kick off on this, what was to have been the most memorable, day in the history of Havant RFC. A travelling army of hundreds of supporters made the long journey to Cumbria for the last game of the league season to watch Havant play a side that had only won twice all season. The challenge was straightforward. We only had to draw and we would have been promoted to National Division 2 for the 93-94 season and be one of the top 20 clubs in the country. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Aspatria played the best they’d played all season and the occasion was a little too much for us. We lost 12-13; it couldn’t have been closer. Otley beat Liverpool St Helens, and with the better points difference, they were promoted instead.

However, it was the highest league position we have yet attained; that morning we were the 27th club in England, in itself a magnificent achievement for a club only 43 years old at the time.

The team that day was:

Rob Ashworth, Jimmy Bates, Steve Boydell, Paul Jenkins, Andy Wilson, Pete Russell, Ivan Torpey; Johnny Garrett, Rob Whitehead, Dave Rees, Ben Rouse, Mike Baldwin, Nick Roach, Will Knight (Capt), Mark Sheldon.

Replacements were Gary Curtis and Barney Gray.

Dec 18 1993 London Irish
This was the day that we hosted LONDON IRISH in the 4th round of the Pilkington Cup and, in wet and windy conditions, gave the Irish a fright in what was probably one of our best performances in what was a difficult season under coach Rob Cunningham. It was also memorable for one of the best ‘after match’ evenings that the clubhouse has seen. (The Irish went to the trouble of writing to thank us for the hospitality)

We had reached the 4th round by having a bye in the 1st Round, beating Lydney 16-11 away in the 2nd Round and beating Cambridge 24-13 at home in the 3rd Round.

Alister Marshall wrote in the News Sports Mail that night:

Havant went out of the Pilkington Cup in the 4th round at Hooks Lane today – but take nothing away from them. It was a magnificent, highly spirited effort by skipper Will Knight’s squad, who made the aristocrats from Division 1 of the Courage League fight all the way for their place in the last 16.

The final score was Havant 13 London Irish 18.

The Havant scores came from tries by Mark Sheldon and Nick Roach and a penalty from ‘Siggy’ Lippiett.

The Havant Team was:

Dave Jones, Dave Sibson, Steve Boydell, Paul Jenkins, Tony White, Simon Lippiett, Barney Gray: Dave Rees, Rob Whitehead, Mick Rees, Ben Rouse, Mike Baldwin, Mark Sheldon, Nick Roach, Will Knight (capt)

replacements: Jimmy Bates, Paul (Kiwi) Redden

Irish were fielding two current Ireland internationals in Jim Staples and Simon Geoghagen