A Potted History

By David Bourne

The first club was formed at Longton High School under the guidance of one of the teachers, Mr. Hirons and took the name of Old Longtonians. It was in the mid nineteen thirties when the club played its first games in a field off Cocknage Road in Dresden, a suburb of Longton. Not a lot is known of these early years, they played some other Old Boys sides and clubs such as Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford.

When the War came all rugby activity ceased as most of the players were drafted into the forces. The club was not revived until around nineteen forty seven when Alan Hammersley was the secretary and as far as I remember was the only club official apart from the President, Mr. M.V. Gregory who was the Headmaster. It was at this time when I had my first involvement with the club, having been invited to play against Stoke Technical College. One other player from this era was the legendary Stan Clews; he used to arrive at the venue on a pretty lethal looking motorbike. It was not long before the club folded again. Most of the players of that era were dispersed among other local clubs.

It was in nineteen fifty-two when the present club was formed. It was through the work of Tom Spencer and Bill Chadwick, both PE teachers at the school, and a properly organised committee was formed. Once more Stan Clews appears. He was the first captain and fly half of the club. Other notable names from that era were John Thomas, a flying winger and Peter Davies, a fly half who had played for the Barbarians. Space does not allow a fuller listing but there were several players who went on to greater things with other clubs and won representative honours with Staffordshire. Ron Morris, a lock forward moved to Moseley and gained reserve cards for the England side.

From the very modest beginnings, using the facilities of the School initially and through the use of pitches on the old aerodrome at Meir, taking our after-match teas in a number of local pubs, in Caverswall Cricket Club and Weston Coyney Social Club, we finally arrived at our new ground and clubhouse at Roughcote. We started with only one team and a few reserves and by the time the move to Roughcote came, we were putting out three regular sides, plus occasional youth and veteran’s sides.

Most of the credit for this move was due to the efforts of a small development committee headed by Martin Hamer and ably supported by Mick Wheat, Tony Smith, and Chris Boardman. Soon after the purchase was made there were frantic efforts made to get the site up and running. Six months of hard work by most of the club members saw the transformation of cow sheds, pig sties and other farm buildings into a two roomed clubhouse, with bar, kitchen and four changing rooms with a shower facility.

Most of us forgot we had wives and girlfriends and it was to our credit that our Ladies stood by us and put up with our absences from home (of course they knew where we were).

It was through the skill of the likes of Alan Lockett, our sparks in chief, Trevor Barber and his gang of brick layers the demolition gang led by Chris Boardman and a host of others, mainly the players, who gave up their weekends, first to play a game and then to work on the project that we were able to open our doors and serve our first pint just before Christmas of 1975.

The move to Roughcote was a great leap of faith. If my memory serves me right, we had total assets of something in the order of £1100 and a load of enthusiasm and this enabled us to obtain loans from the Rugby Football Union, the Staffordshire R.U. and from Marston’s Brewery.

The more recent history of the Club is well known and it is with a sense of pride that I look back and see what has been achieved both on the field and in the Clubhouse and I am thankful to have played but some small part in the development of this fine club and I look forward to greater things in the future.