Players past and present unite to celebrate 50 years of rugby club

The original Beccles Rugby Club team from 1966.

The original Beccles Rugby Club team from 1966. - Credit: Archant

A club that has become an institution for many families in Beccles is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

An action shot from Beccles Rugby Club taken in the 80s. Photo: Tim Clements.

An action shot from Beccles Rugby Club taken in the 80s. Photo: Tim Clements. - Credit: Archant

Beccles Rugby Club was formed in 1966 and tomorrow evening players and supporters from the past five decades will be uniting for a celebratory ball.

It will take place in a marquee at the clubhouse on Beef Meadow and will welcome special guest Cliff Reading, who along with Doug James founded the popular organisation.

Ray Hadridge, Brian Taylor and John Hipperson, who were also involved from the very early stages will also be in attendance.

Mr Reading and Mr James decided to set up the club after spotting a need for the sport in the town.

Beccles Rugby Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Beccles Rugby Club is celebrating its 50th anniversary. - Credit: Archant

Gareth Hadridge chairman of the club said: 'I think they both felt that there was no rugby club in Beccles and that there needed to be. They found somewhere to play and the rest is history. My dad Ray used to live next door to Doug so he began playing, and then they asked around the town and at local schools to see who else wanted to get involved.

'When they started in 1966 there were 17 players who actually played, but they had no money so they all picked a shirt of their own and dyed it black. You can see on the original photo of the team that some of them were striped, some grey and other shades.'

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The pitch wasn't ready for around the first six months so the team were forced to play away games, but despite the humble beginnings the club has gone from strength to strength attracting players of all ages, from youngsters to veterans.

The two adult teams consist of the Beccles Dolphins and Beccles Bulls, with the latter reaching division two in the London league during previous seasons. The tiny bulls and mini's for children and veterans team also attract a great following.

Action from Beccles Rugby Club in the 1980s. Picture: Tim Clements.

Action from Beccles Rugby Club in the 1980s. Picture: Tim Clements. - Credit: Archant

Keith Johnstone, captain of this year's first team said: 'I think it has become an institution now and I know we would like to keep getting involved with the community. We have organised the Duck Race for the past three years and we have been working on our youth hub facility, which is a separate clubhouse that opened last year for the youth section.'

Mr Hadridge said: 'I began playing when I was five, which was 40 years ago, and when I began playing for the senior team we used to take part in rugby tours in Petit-Couronne during the 80s, we did that for a good 10 years. I think its great we've been going 50 years, it would be nice if we could get to another 50.'

Tomorrow's ball will take place in a marquee at the clubhouse on Beef Meadow in Common Lane and is expected to attract more than 200 people, all of which have a connection to Beccles Rugby Club throughout the years.

It will include a three-course meal and music from Sustainiacs.

The club has produced a blog on the website with stories and information on the history. Visit www.becclesrugbyclub.org.uk

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