During the early part of 1959 a group of young men used to congregate around the fire of the snug in the Spread Eagle Hotel. The beer in the Spread at that time did nothing to inspire the lads and one evening, when it was particularly bad, the conversation once again turned to how the matter could be rectified and someone came up with the brilliant idea of forming a drinking club.
Shortly afterwards four of the men, including Martin Hampson and Peter Holt, attended the Bowdon 7’s. As the day progressed, they were amazed to find that the bar remained open and they decided there and then that this abuse of the licensing laws was the answer to all their problems. Sports clubs could legally sell beer to their members and rugby clubs seemed to consume beer in great quantities but first of all they needed a team. As the winter nights of ’59 started to draw in, the plans began to formulate. An advert was placed in the Warrington Guardian requesting anyone interested in forming a rugby club to attend a meeting at the Spread Eagle on the 27th November 1959.
The response was excellent and an inaugural meeting was held at the same venue on the 14th January 1960. Twenty one people attended and their names are as follows:-
Alexander, Ron Fairs, Roger Roberts, John Kermode, Bill MacMutrie, D. Storey, Peter Matthews, F. Normington, C. Clark, D. Ravenscroft, M. Clough, Fred Totton, D. Marshall, O. Connally.
The following were elected officers:-
Mike Thomason (Chairman), Peter Holt (Treasurer), Martin Hampson (Joint Secretary), Dick (Jesse) James (Joint Secretary). Ian Pitchford, Edgar Welbourne and Barry Sutton were also elected as committee members
The first training session was arranged for Saturday 23rd January at Lymm Park and a collection of sixpence (6d) was made from all present to offset postal expenses. The playing side progressed well. Roger Roberts was elected the first Captain and Bill Normington his Vice Captain. The first ever fixture was played on March 5th against Warrington YMCA ‘A’ XV and resulted in a 19-14 victory. As with all the games that season it was played away and that was the only victory the club recorded, the other six games all resulting in defeat.
In typical Lymm fashion, once the decision to form a club was taken it was all systems go. Permission to use the Chicken Farm field as a pitch was granted by Lymm Council. The Chicken Farm or Hatchings as it was more commonly known, was situated at the rear of what is now the Shell garage on Higher Lane. It is now a housing estate. The field was in a terrible condition, being uneven and covered in chicken droppings and having a large oak tree in the middle. The members worked very hard in order to prepare the pitch for their first full season.
Probably the most important event in the club’s history was Martin Hampson getting the lease on Beechwood. Initially it was planned to change in the Water Tower but Martin managed to persuade Henry Thomason to give the club a one year lease for £100.00 plus rates. (A few years later, Martin was instrumental in purchasing Beechwood from Henry). A lot of work was needed to convert the old coach house into a habitable club but the enthusiastic members completed the work in six months without bringing in outside labour. This enabled the founder members to realise their initial ambition and have their own drinking club.
The first committee meeting took place at Beechwood on 17th March 1960. William Younger’s proposal to provide beer was accepted. Bitter was priced at 1/- (one shilling); Mild at 10d (ten pence); Spirits at 2/- (two shillings). Annual membership fees were set at: Playing – one guinea (One pound one shilling); Social – a half guinea (ten shillings and sixpence); Schoolboys – five shillings; Vice Presidents – one and a half guineas or five guineas for five years.
Rugby with a strong social ambience was the culture of the first decade of the club’s existence. The social calendar was amazing and within in a few years they had recorded the second highest annual bar turnover for an English rugby club. Attractive girls came from far and wide to enjoy the social activities and this in turn attracted new playing members. The weekend dances were always sold out; two or three reviews a year were put on by the members; two marquee Bar B Q dances were held each year; beach wear parties, pyjama dances, Halloween dances etc. etc. It was non stop fun.
2014/15 season will be our 55th, if you count the 7 games in the 1959/60 season. We are still a relatively young club in rugby terms but in that time we have made our mark in more ways than one. Dave Berry’s excellent book ‘Out on a Lymm’ chronicles the history of the club from its foundation to season 1989/90. Only a few copies now remain but it can be found at local Warrington Libraries. At the time of its publication, the club was going through a difficult period financially and serious thoughts were being given to selling up and moving. Thankfully this didn’t happen and we are still here at ‘Beechwood’, a club house that is dear to the hearts of all members past and present.