A potted history of Sidcup RFC 1 of 6

1. A potted history of Sidcup RFC

Sidcup RFC - a brief history

Sidcup Football Club started in 1882 but it was not until 1884-85 that a full fixture list was played. Sidcup was a hamlet until the coming of the railways when the South Eastern and Chatham line to London was established in 1866. Despite the arrival of the railway and its quick link with the City, Sidcup remained before the First World War a rural spot with considerable agricultural and horticultural activity. The rugby club became established on a field adjoining the cricket club at Crescent Farm where it remains to this day. Now a member of Sidcup Sports Club, Sidcup RFC shares the current Crescent Farm facilities with Sidcup Cricket Club and Crescent Lawn Tennis Club.

As the town grew so did the rugby club and by 1930 it had become a regular finalist in the Kent Cup. As with many other clubs, fortunes waxed and waned but in playing terms a sudden and lasting improvement started in the late 1950s, also at this time the Penguins RFC was formed by Tony Mason and Alan Wright, two stalwart members of the club. In 1960 the club made a first appearance in the Middlesex Sevens Finals at Twickenham, which with further subsequent appearances helped to make Sidcup better known. Moreover the 60s and 70s saw more success in the then revived Kent Cup. Thanks to these successes the fixture list was considerably improved and the name of Sidcup spread to the Midlands and the West Country. Past president, Brian Bennett, captained the club in four of its most successful seasons between 1967 and 1973, another outstanding performer of this era was outside-half, Billy Bushell, who achieved 402 points in 1971-72 before departing for Harlequins where he later gained an England B cap as a full back. Other players with international honours are William Edgar Prattern who played for Scotland in 1927 and the unforgettable Andrew (Andy) William Hancock, England 1965-66.

With the 80s moving more in the direction of competition Sidcup became founder members of the Seven Counties Merit Table and in the early years under the leadership of Roy White and Steve Price, Sidcup enjoyed appreciable success finishing top on a number of occasions. The advent of the Courage Leagues in 1987 saw Sidcup placed in National Division 4 South in recognition of many years of achievement. A very successful first season saw Sidcup only needing to draw their final game at home to Lydney to gain promotion to National League Division 3. Unfortunately they lost by 9pts to 6pts and the promotion place went elsewhere.

Since then fortunes have wavered, one further promotion, one Kent Cup and one Kent Plate success and five league relegations. In season 2003-04 promotion was gained to London 2 South where Sidcup stayed for three seasons before being relegated to London 3 South East in Season 2005-06. In 2006-07 the club again achieved promotion, returning to London 2 South for the 125 Anniversary Season. With many promising players and an enthusiastic committee, hopes for the future continue to be high.

Much pleasure has been enjoyed in the past few years, from international caps earned by former club members: Jim Staples, Captain of Ireland; Alex Bennett, England Colts, U21, England Students and England A; Andy Spry, England Colts; Dominic Walton, England Schools U18; Matthew Griffiths, England Students, Commonwealth Games England 7s squad; Anthony Roques, England Schools U16, U18, Colts, British Students, U21 and England 7s Commonwealth Games and IRB International 7s Squads and most recently Daniel Kotze, who spent two formative seasons at the club as a colt, earned a full cap for France at prop in 2013. Also worthy of a mention here among the Sidcup legends, is John P. Pearson (RFU International Referee 1994 - 99), a regular and welcome visitor to the club as a Kent referee before rising to international standard and whose shirt adorns the wall in the players' bar.

Along with the many players representing the County and the London Division at various age groups, this level of representation is a testament to our successful youth policy.

Now fielding some 16 teams ranging from Minis through Juniors and Academy to 4 Senior Saturday XVs, it is a matter of no little pride that a significant number of 1st XV players in recent seasons have graduated from the youth set-up. Such a number of teams may be a far cry from 1883 but current members hope that their successors will ensure that there is still a Sidcup Rugby Football Club providing quality sport, recreation and friendship in 2083.