PICTURE GALLERY: Holt Rugby Club publishes book to celebrate its 50th birthday

With a growing youth system, a thriving first team and an England star to their name, one rugby club shows no signs of growing old just yet.

Formed in 1961 with no club, no ground and no money, Holt Rugby Club can now boast a membership of hundreds and a league position to be proud of for its men's first team.

And alongside holding a number of special events, to mark its 50th birthday the club has created a book documenting its history as well as a team kit that comes complete with its own golden jubilee logo.

David Hitcham, 63, is treasurer at the club and pointed to the development of the youth teams as one of the key ingredients to its success.

Highlighting the fact that people can join from the age of six, he said: 'Sometimes younger players can drift off but they have really stayed with the club here and have an affinity with it, and they are all playing for each other.'

The most famous of their former players is scrum half Ben Youngs, who has gone on to play for his country, but Mr Hitcham said that more than 75pc of the senior team was made of players coming up through the club.

That has led to success in the men's first team, which was promoted last season and is top of London and North East Division Three having won seven games in a row.

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'The set up is exceptionally important too,' he added, 'and we support the players and do the best we can for the club.'

The rise and rise of the club has now been documented in 50 Golden Years, a book put together by members of the 50th anniversary committee as well as others including Graham Lumsden.

With a member of the committee taking on a decade each, it contains everything from the minutes of the first meeting through to the success of the Holt under 11s side in winning the Norfolk Cup this year.

Having moved to its present ground of High Kelling in 1967, players for Holt Rugby Club now have a selection of three full size pitches, six dedicated mini pitches and a clubhouse.

With a mini and youth section, they attract more than 300 youngsters every Sunday, and have around 75 players across their three senior squads.

The celebrations have so far included an event in October, at which old players mingled with new ones, and an annual dinner where some members wore a 50th anniversary blazer.

Chairman Richard Seaman has been involved since 1980, but was quick to point out that there were committee members overseeing the club who had played an important role since day one.

He emphasised that it was very much a team effort, and said: 'We've got a very committed and dedicated committee and founder members who love the club and want to take it forward.'

Like Mr Hitcham, he saw the youth teams as playing a key part in progress, adding: 'As a committee we want to give the young people of the area a chance to play rugby and enjoy both a good competitive standard of rugby and a good social side.

'The club has had strong local roots and I see no reason why that shouldn't continue,' he added.

? To find out more, go to www.holtrfc.com, and for a copy of the book, call John Wykes on 01328 710768.

? To see a gallery of Holt Rugby Club photos, visit www.northnorfolknews.co.uk.