1970s rugby memorabilia from Darlington and Durham
BILL ROBSON is a 71 year old young man, who has played over 600 matches for Darlington Rugby Club 1er XV. “I played number 15 hard,” he said. “It gave me the freedom to influence our offensive intrigue alongside talented and hard-working teammates like Paul Zissler, Ian McCandlish and a fantastic try scorer at Barrie Hodgson.
“The hard thing to play back is that you are the last line of defense and line up a lot of high, long kicks designed to hit you along with some of the opposition.
Darlington Rugby Club in the 1970s. Return LR Barrie Hodgson, Harry Wheeldon, Tom Miller, Malcolm Bell, Bob McManners, Gerry Walker. Before LR Ian Hunter, Bill Robson, Eddie Turnbull (captain), Unknown, Brian Grieveson.
“Most of my games at Darlington were with Tom Miller who has played even more games than I have. Tom is now club president, a position I held 38 years ago. Other administrative positions that I have. occupied before I finished playing were those of Darlington Representative on the County Durham Committee, County XV Team Secretary, County Coach and Chairman of the Selectors where I followed mercurial Mike Summers, now deceased , and, finally, I was extremely honored to be the President of the Durham County Rugby Union from 1999 to 2000. ”
Bill’s humble beginnings in rugby began at Spennymoor Grammar Technical School, a football school with a rugby team. He says, “I followed my brother Allen and played both sports for school. As I progressed in rugby, I joined the new Colts (Under 19) team at Durham City Rugby Club. It allowed me to meet Mike Weston and Stan Hodgson. who were in the 1st XV at Durham City and had represented County Durham, England and the British Lions. Ned Smith was our coach, and it was my first experience of people I have met across rugby who generously gave their time and energy to a game that they enjoyed.
“My brother recruited me for the Newton Aycliffe Rugby Club which was a very welcoming club. I entered senior rugby with a junior club which played against the second XV of the senior clubs.
“My next move was to Sheffield City College of Education. In college the players had to organize their own training needs. I grew up, won two stones and got a lot fitter. I played. at rugby for them every Wednesday and Saturday, and in the holidays continued to turn for Newton Aycliffe.
“I followed my brother to Darlington Rugby Club before I graduated from college and so started a membership that has lasted 52 years (so far).
Darlington Rugby Club 1er XV 1975-76 Return LR Jim Colebrook, Keith Pearson, Chris Harrison, Tom Miller, Mike Eden, Ian Hunter, Dave Crawford, Malcolm Bell, Barrie Hodgson. Forward LR Tony Musgrave, John Sneddon, Paul Clayton, Bill Robson (captain), Trevor Lyons, Martin Littleton, Bob McManners, forward LR Ian McCandlish and Paul Zissler.
“In Darlington, we played regularly at the Stade Français and I had the chance to do four tours in Paris.
“I played for Durham County against Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire and while I was on vacation with my wife, who was visiting her sister in Zambia, I played two games for Mufulira RFC whose chairman was Don Gibson who had played for Westoe. The following weekend I was a county substitute against Cheshire and on Sunday I represented ‘The Golden Oldies’ against Catterick Garrison where I teamed up Jeff Butterfield (Northumbria, England and the Lions) 21 years my senior, in the center.
“Other memories include a stint as the skipper of Darlington when our most famous member was G Tarn Bainbridge, the president of the Rugby Football Union. I was his guest at the England Schools v Japan Schools match at Twickenham. In 1984. -85 I was on secondment from my teaching post at Newcastle University and had the honor of playing for the UAU team against Durham University.
“In the late 1980s I spent a few seasons with Mowden Park Over 35s and played for Dave Pike’s XV to mark his departure for Australia.
Dave Pike’s starting game, Mowden Park XV v County Durham Select Back LR:?. Neil Hunton, Jimmy Walton, Malcolm Harvey,?. Jim McManners, Doug Milner, Tom Miller, Colin Hogg,?, John Widdall, John Crowther, Keith Baggs, Tommy Urwin, George Zissler,?,?, David Boyd,?, Tony Hammons, Viv Cotton (referee). Before LR John Scaife, John Pike, Richard Hawes, Peter Ahern, Stan Hodgson,?, Bill Robson, Jackie Woodhouse, Ken Goodwin, Dave Pike,?, Jim Brownlee.
“I played my last game for Darlington at the age of 47 in a fourth Tag Team Cup final against Hartlepool in Durham City, a game we won.
“My last game was for a Hartlepool Athletic President’s XV, of which I am honored to be a member.
“I have played against thousands of fantastic players in a great game, and it is a privilege to meet other former rugby players to remember many happy times.”
- Thanks to Bill for his help.
WE are saddened to learn of the sudden passing of John Fenwick who played Northern League football for Bishop Auckland, West Auckland and Willington and other clubs. He was a member of the Willington squad which played a 0-0 home draw against the Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup 1st round in November 1973. John, a good friend of the Chronicle, was a good and useful member. from the Committee on the Durham Amateur Football Confidence. A keen gardener, he often sold his produce to raise funds for the foundation, and raised more by enthusiastically shaking our donation box at the many exhibitions he helped organize. He will be sorely missed.