Firstly may I say thank you to Norman Spiers, an Honorary Life Vice President of the CRUFC who kindly put together the information below relating to the club's history. If anyone else has any pictures and relevant information to add I would be very happy to use them.
You perhaps may not be aware that in 1977, Headingley Rugby Club (as it was known then) along with many others were instrumental in encouraging teaching and supporting a group of 16-year old Clitheroe lads to play rugby union.
The founder Ashley Parkinson at his own expense placed an advert in the Clitheroe Advertiser
“Anyone wishing to form a Rugby club please ring 22850”.
Four hopefuls responded, met up in a pub (where else?), voted and proposed themselves onto the club committee and announced to an eager waiting world that Clitheroe Rugby Union Football Club had been formed. Training would commence at Ribblesdale School Gym on Mondays and again on the Pimlico Road Pitch on Thursdays at 6.30pm.
The first season produced quite extraordinary levels of enthusiasm and interest in the club. This in turn encouraged many new members to join. The first (and only) fifteen playing 21 games in all, winning ten and losing ten. Derek Jones played in every game and Steve Greatorex was the leading try scorer. 85% of the money required to buy the rugby posts, playing kit, and the pitch marker was raised from socials subs and match fees by the members themselves and even despite losing a sizeable quantity of money, the audited accounts showed a healthy balance at the year end of £240.70. Vice presidencies were shamelessly sold to swell the funds and we are grateful to a very long list of supporters (later to be re-named patrons). We shared the pitch with footballers, Ribblesdale Wanderers, the Cricket Tennis Squash and Bowling Club became our head (banging) partners allowing us to share their facilities. The club colours were maroon and gold striped jerseys, black shorts, maroon stockings with gold striped hoops (nice).
On October 1st 1977 Rosslyn Park played Headingley away on the same day as we played our inaugural fixture with their “extra 15a’s”. Their committee (unknown to us) rearranged the changing room facilities to allow the Clitheroe players to change alongside those of the famous London club. Most of our players had to enquire further on their location, as far as they were concerned Rosslyn Park might well have hailed from the East riding or South Barnsley. Phil Keith-Roach, Andy Ripley, and other famous international players from the past along with their entire first fifteen made us very welcome indeed.
Headingley officials were great. ''Gooch', John Spencer and others were all very supportive and their 1977 president Mr Hudson presented their treasured club mascot to us (an original Bakelite Michelin man painted in their club colours which we naturally named Hudson. The ref stopped the inaugural game twice to conduct two intensive five- minute coaching sessions on why scrums need to be treated just a tad more like an integral part of the game (and not just an excuse for a bundle). Later in our first year Peter Hughes the international referee was to join us on a training session to coach us on the finer points. At the first AGM Andrew Gordon became coach as well as steering the constitution into existence and Officers and Committee members were elected. Ashley the founder became vice-president of the club as well as fixtures secretary and Peter Wilson voted vice captain and treasurer. Alf Wrigley skippered the team and P Ramsey handled the social secretary!!
(He got off with a caution) Norman Speirs was proposed and seconded as honorary life vice-president. The late R “Nick” Hopwood and Bob Howarth were tireless in their efforts to put the club onto a firm footing and Nick was elected President and Bob Chairman respectively. Sadly in 1983 both died tragically within weeks of each other. A memorial match was played on Sat 30th April for the Nick Hopwood Memorial Cup and the Bob Haworth Clitheroe team “man of the match” award was presented for the first time.
Clitheroe Cricket Club, the Education authorities, and Ribble Valley Borough Council along with the “Advertiser” should all be singled out for praise for their very particular and supportive response to Ashley’s vision in those very fragile early years. Not forgetting the mothers, wives and girlfriends who washed the kit, and made superb teas, (not necessarily in that order). Annual dinners and tours to far-off lands all served to build lasting relationships with other clubs, Terry Pearson an England triallist spoke at the first dinner, Tony Neary and Alan Gott and many others. A special fund-raising Captains dinner helped by guest speaker Gareth Chilcott raised £1000 to kick off the appeal for funds to build the new clubhouse. Ironically the original county council portakabins which housed the planning department had already reached condemmned stage in our first year. The buildings came free as long as we paid for their removal.
The foundations and subsequent refurbishing were to cost close on £10000.
L Bamford, J Broughton, C Cunliffe, S B Dawson, J O Ellis, J Fielding, D Fielding, Mrs J Fielding, A D Gordon, D J Gordon, Mrs E M Gordon, J W Greatorex, Mrs M Greatorex, Mrs P Hargreaves, J Hemingway, J Holmes,
I A L Hogg, Lt Col H E Hopcroft, R N Hopwood, J Lund, Mrs B Parkinson,
J Parkinson, J Rudd, L C Scargill, C G Silcock, Mrs I Speirs, N M Speirs, R Speirs, T Sweeney, T Thornton, R Watts, D Wightman, T Williamson, A Wrigley, Miss J Wilkinson, Mrs R Wilson.
Well done Clitheroe