Tue 17 Sep 2019 14:58

The game was introduced to Ashbourne in 1931 by Major C. F. Ball, the newly appointed headmaster of Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School. Mr. K. W. (Peter) Wright, Past President, former Captain and life member of the Ashbourne R.F.C., former Match Secretary of the Derbyshire R.F.IL and compiler of the Derbyshire R.F.U. Diamond Jubilee Booklet was a founder member. He was a pupil at the Grammar School and recalls those days. "Major Ball lost no time in introducing the game to the School, which at that time was playing soccer. His strategy was to introduce the game at under-15 level. In the words of Max Boyce — 'I was there'. Coaching lessons were held at lesson time— what an incentive! One of the lessons I was released from was Latin — not one of my best subjects. Since my gaze was not on my books but out of the window towards the field Miss Beckett, the Latin teacher would say, 'Wright, if you would rather go and play ball, you may leave now!' — which I did. Major Ball had to fight opposition in town and school to the change of code. One of his bright ideas was to walk from the Old School in Church Street through the town to the School Playing Field clad in his referee's kit — red socks, white shorts, coloured blazer and a 'tasselled' colours cap!" His enthusiasm brought success and in 1932-1933, the Club played its first games. The team consisted of the experienced and inexperienced. There were Old Boys, School staff, a few rugby playing 'immigrants' to Ashbourne and Senior School pupils. The Club games were included in 'Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Ashbourne, Hockey and RUFC Fixture Lists — 1932-1933.' Teams played during that season were Derby Tigers, Old Mannerians, Old Baileans, Nottingham University III, Abbotsholme and Derby Borough Police. The fixture-list shows that between October 1st, 1932 and March 18th, 1933, there were two practice matches and twenty-eight School and Club matches — all during term time — not a bad effort! Major Ball, no doubt had much to do with making the Grammar School the venue for the Derbyshire— Staffordshire County matches in these early years. Prince Alexander Obolensky, who played for England, the Barbarians and Midland Counties and was the scorer of one of Twickenham's "classic" tries, played for Derbyshire in one of these games on February 28th, 1934. Derbyshire won 23 points to 11. At the close of the 1932-1933 season, the first Annual General Meeting was held at Willmott's Cafe in Church Street, on June 30th, 1933. At the meeting it was proposed by John Allen (later killed in action as an R.A.F. Fighter Pilot) and seconded by K. W. Wright "That the Ashbourne Rugby Football Union Club be officially formed." Amongst those present appear the names of W. A. Bembridge, A. H. Birch, H. G. Plumbly, K. W. Wright. Records of Executive Committee Meetings which followed make interesting reading. They record that Royal Blue and Gold were to be the Club colours, the Annual Subscription was to be 7/6 (37V2p) and match subs 1/6 (7V2p), the cost of a bus to Nottingham at £2 was considered too expensive and players were instructed to use public transport, the secretary was authorised to buy Bukta shirts at 6/- (30p) each and Lillywhite stockings at 1/11 (lOp) per pair, LESS DISCOUNT, to be sold later to players. The 1933/1934 Season was now under way.