History of Saint Leonards

Historical Record of (GEC) St. Leonards Rugby Club.

From the outset I must say that I do not have all the dates to hand which relate to the very beginning of the Rugby Club at the G.E.C. St. Leonards works here in Stafford. However how it came about I do recall; I had rejoined G.E.C. Measurements early in 1977 as a Electro Mechanical Relay Development Engineer and some time later I got into a conversation with Pat Doherty about the subject of Rugby. I had been telling him how I had in my previous job with British Aerospace in Saudi Arabia I had been involved with setting up their Rugby Section along with another Irish man. This was probably prompted Pat Doherty to suggest that I pop along to the Personnel Office where John Mayes (R.I.P.) worked as a Personnel Officer; John was at that time playing rugby for one of the “Stafford” sides but had it in mind that G.E.C. Measurements was capable of putting a rugby club together.

It wasn’t long before we had a list of possible candidates and as my job permitted and required me to visit all parts of the G.E.C. site I volunteered to do the rounds and see if we could put a team together. Well, things were a bit slow at first, however, we slowly but surely managed to convince a number of people to participate in the scheme.

The company had reassured us that if a viable “Rugby” team could be established then they were prepared to sponsor the side and further if we could show that we were in it for the long haul then they would allow us to establish a pitch at the “Riverside” site owned by them.
I am getting a bit ahead of myself here as our games initially were arranged for either Wednesday evenings or more usually on Sunday mornings. These games were played at venues such as the Stafford Rugby Club pitches og at the Stafford College pitch or indeed on the “High School” pitch.

We initially were given some cast off shirts kindly donated by “Stafford Rugby Club”. The records which I have got show that we had our first recognisable match against J.C.B. down on one of Stafford’s pitches on 5th. April 1978. We lost that game 27 Points to Nil, but, what ecstacy ,we were actually setting off on an exciting journey towards affiliation to the R.F.U. and being officially recognised.

That first team comprised of the following bodies:- John Mayes as Fullback, Dale and Wilson as Wingers, Dave Williams and Stevie Knox as Centres, ? Jenkins as Fly Half, Richie Wisdom as Scrum Half, John Baxter and Steve Shotton as Props, Tony Wilkinson as Hooker, Martin Griffin and Brian Cole were the Locks, Dave Fairley and Pat Doherty played at Wing Forward and finally Ronnie Cox played No. 8.. This match was refereed by Brian Barratt.

From here we played another three games before the season end against JCB again, then St. Georges and finally Trentham. We did in fact lose each of those games but our team was beginning to get a better sense of cohesion and team spirit on each occasion.

Dave Fairley

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