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History of Minety RFC

Adam Litowczyk (1950- 1983)

A most entertaining pre Christmas meal drinks party at Mike Lewis’s house in Malmesbury brought together Mike and Gordon Williams together with yours truly.  Both Gordon and Mike had played for Minety in the past and were interested in how the club was doing now and started to swap stories about Minety RFC in the early 1980’s.  Gordon was sure that he had some “memorabilia” and duly sent me through scans of quite a few photographs and documents.

One immediately caught my attention, because I had seen a copy of a very similar photograph on this site from quite some time ago.

This is the photograph that Gordon sent me, taken at the end of the 1983/4 season, probably April or May.

Thanks to Facebook and many contributors, especially Andy Somers, we can now not only identify the event but also all of the team and the three guests who appear on the 2nd row.  The story that follows is still incomplete but makes for fascinating if rather poignant reading.

This was the first commemorative game for the Adam Litowczyk Cup.

In the team photograph, taken in September 1983, shortly after Adam’s tragic death:

B/R: Nigel Jobbins, Ian Neal, Gary Dodson, Roger Wickham, Pete Gifford, Alan Baker, Paul Harrington, John Butler, Adrian Fisher. M/R; James Wilson, Roy Caswell, Ian Risby, Keith Arrell, Tony Alderton, Mrs Litowczyk, Dave Hammond, Keith Davis, Andy Matthews. F/R; Kev Osborne, Kenny Wright, Eddie Wrona, Tim Williams, Gordon Williams, Nick Farr, Andy Somers, Dave Peirce.

Adam Litowczykwas born in Chippenham on 8th December 1950 but died tragically young, at the age of just 32, on 31st August 1983 in Malmesbury.

The lady sitting with a child on her lap in the middle row is Adam’s widow. His other child is with Keith Arrell, again on the 2nd row. Adam played rugby for Minety, Cirencester and Bath. We gave a collection to his widow and she presented us with a trophy. The club thought it fitting that Minety play an annual fixture v Cirencester. Sadly, that tradition is long lost.

Adam (seen here 3rd from right, back row) made 59 appearances for Bath in the second row.  His debut was on 12th November 1975 and his final appearance was against Neath on 29th October 1977.

A huge bearded man, Adam was an imposing figure.  John Butler recalls an altercation in a scrum on one occasion.  After some goading and illegal goings on in a scrum Adam brought matters to a swift close – a huge fist shot up between the Minety props and knocked the opposing front row clean out of the scrum.  There was no more fuss in scrummages during that match.

Those that knew him, describe Adam as being a “gentle giant” and his tragic death was a huge shock to everyone at Minety RFC.

Adam was also a talented cricketer, using his height to good effect as an attacking right arm medium bowler and rising to opening the bowling for Wiltshire in the Minor Counties Championship in both 1976 and 1977.

Another photograph, taken on the same day but without Mrs Litowczyk and her children, can be found here.

A clock in the clubhouse was presented to the club by Mrs Litowczyk and her family. Originally it featured a small plaque but this was lost when a visiting team decided it might be fun to remove the clock and take it away with them.  Once they had been contacted and told of the importance of the clock to the club it was returned but sadly the plaque was never found.

The Adam Litowczyk trophy can be seen in the trophy cabinet at the Minety club house.

22nd November 2010 – Minety Under 17’s win the Dorset and Wilts Vase

The victorious Minety Under 17 team after defeating Bournemouth in a pulsating match played in the mud at Minety.  The winning try came with just seconds left on the clock, scored by flanker Rob Hinwood.

In the team photograph above it’s so good to see that players from that era are now populating the 1st XV now (remarkable since many of them were soon to depart for university and college and now play their rugby all over the country).  Featured above are 1st team regulars Ash and Tom Windle, Josh Bull and Dave Cooke.  Joe Kidner and Elis Garland played some 1st XV matches last year and we’re hoping to welcome Rob Hinwood back to the club in the next few weeks.  Book ending the back row are Tony Windle, now our main club sponsor, and Cliff Garland, our senior club coach.

Back row, left to right:  Tony Windle, Dan Thomas (Coach), Alex Fraser, Olly Thomas, Sam Thomas, Elis Garland, James Bayes, Ash Windle, Dave Cooke, Josh Gainey, Sam Johnson, Tom Windle, Kieran Evett, Harry ?, Ben Thomas, Mike New, Dave Bull (Assistant Coach) & Cliff Garland (Assistant Coach).

Front row: ?, Rob Hinwood, Reece Kinnett , Jordan Wilcocks, Joe Kidner, Josh Bull and Alex Miriam

Looking back in time at Minety RFC

This time, it’s a look back at the Jubilee Year Celebration Match Programme from Saturday 7th September 1996, when Minety took on local rival Wootton Bassett in a special 25th anniversary match for both clubs.

Here are all of the pages from that historic programme.  Click on an image for a full size version.

11th September 2010

Minety 1st XV 48 pts – Wootton Bassett 2nd XV 15pts

Minety opened their 40th anniversary season with a fine display of teamwork and running rugby, putting eight tries past their opponents from Wootton Bassett.

On a gloriously sunny September afternoon, it was the visitors who drew first blood thanks to a smartly struck drop goal from fly half Ieuen Clarence. Bassett’s lead proved short lived. Securing a steady supply of ball and distributing it even handedly, Minety attacked on all fronts and it wasn’t long before winger Ryan Dowling was flitting past his opponents for a try, which skipper Jack Ward converted.

This score was soon followed by one on the opposite wing as Russell Barstow sped in for a try. Centre Robin Greenwood added a third try and when Minety were awarded a penalty on their 10 metre line, they lost no time in taking a tap and go. A simple passing move slipped the ball to Dowling again and none of the visitors could catch him as he accelerated out of attempted tackles and ran in Minety’s try number four. Barstow slotted the conversion and the sides turned round with Minety leading by 24 points to 3.

The second half began with Minety mounting steady pressure on the Bassett line. The visitors tackled doggedly but could not prevent Ward from bursting through for a try under the posts. His conversion of his own try took Minety’s tally to 31 points, but though they returned to the attack, this time they spilled the ball deep in Bassett’s 22 metre area. Clarence was onto it in a trice and showed astonishing acceleration as he jinked and swerved his way through the home team before running the length of the pitch to score.

James Slater kicked the conversion for Bassett, but after that it was Minety on the attack again. Attempting to clear their lines, the visitors only succeeded in kicking the ball straight to Ward, who promptly set his three quarters moving again. This time number eight Ian Illingworth finished the move, powering over for a try which Ward converted.

Demonstrating that they had not lost sight of traditional Minety values, the home pack executed a catch and drive from an attacking lineout, mauling en masse towards the line. Driving their opponents back, they piled over for a try, lock Mark Holdsworth eventually emerging as the scorer. Holdsworth scored the next try, too, turning up on the left wing to finish a sequence of steady phases from the forwards and unselfish passing by the backs.

The last word was left to Wootton Bassett’s fly half Clarence, who once again showed terrific pace and agility as he sprinted in for a consolation try from 30 metres out.

Nigel Price

11th September 2010

Minety RFC celebrated its 40th anniversary at the start of the 2010 -2011 season and a special match day programme was produced for the two matches held on 18th September 2010, the 1sts against Melksham whilst the 2nds took on Corsham.

As a part of our “History of Minety RFC” project, we’ll take a look at what was happening at the club in September 2010.

In our first installment, here are the team sheets for 18th September 2010.  How many names can you recognise / remember?

In the next installment we’ll bring you Nigel Price’s marvelously crafted report of the 1st’s opening match of the 2010 season against Wootton Bassett’s 2nd XV.

After a recent match at Minety a 10 page document was thrust into my hand by club Chairman, Dave Peirce.  “Look what I’ve been given – a club history.”  It makes for fascinating reading and is re-produced below, in installments.

The history of Minety Rugby Football Club

by Richard G Meakin

Episode 1: In the Beginning

The first that I heard of starting a rugby club in Minety was when I was approached one evening in my own home by an enthusiastic group of men. They were Chris Goddard, Clive Gardiner, Rod Manners and Roger Smith. The question they put to me was, “Dick, do you think we could find enough men in Minety to form a rugby team?”

My answer was, “No!”

“But there is X and Y, and yourself,” they replied.

For myself, I had not played for 17 years, the last time being in the army. And so it went on until we came up with a large number of superfit, expert players who could take on Gloucester 1st XV with no problems at all!

Before the meeting at Derryside, a notice had been posted in the Red Lion, or the Turn Pike as it is now known, without much success. I would imagine it probably created such comments as, “Who the hell wants to play rugby when we can play football?” and, “They have no pitch and can’t have ours!”

On the other hand it maybe started a few thoughts amongst the larger readers who found that their naturally aggressive tackling in football always gave away a freekick, and they could not understand why!

Training and practice (most of us needed a hell of a lot of both) started in the paddock at Derryside. This made for some very nimble sidestepping of the molehills, rushes, puddles and pony dung.  The rugby ball, with its unpredictable bounce on a good pitch, made it sheer luck if anyone ever got it, especially when it just went plop in the wet ground and stayed where it was!

White shirts were bought largely because they were cheaper than colour ones but later they would become very expensive to launder until they turned grey, some having patches of what looked like rust. No, we were rusty. Opponents’ blood?  A little maybe; I think it was mostly ours.

Episiode 2.

Our first game: away to Cirencester 2nds.

It was necessary to play away as we had no ground, posts, first aid, club, pub etc. We travelled to Cirencester in three or four cars, taking 15 players.  For two of those players it was to be their first game. Our photographs were taken, some during the game and a posed team shot after. All I remember is that I played wing forward, and enjoyed myself, as did the others. I thought that we had lost, but 25 years later Chris Goddard thought we had won. Let’s take his version!

Our first home game against Stow on the Wold.

The date was fixed for the following Saturday but we had no pitch, posts, nothing! Chris Goddard rang me at work.

“Dick, I got a field. Ralph Cole has kindly let us use his field, on the left of Minety Common, and I have got four trees. Can you get a lorry to pick them up from the Stroud Road at the Bathurst Estate?”

Jumbo Read was asked if he could fit this in between loads with Telsers Lorry (meaning that we didn’t want to pay) and Wednesday afternoon was arranged. I went with Jumbo and we met Chris and Frank Mutlow outside the estate. We walked into the wood to where the trees had been felled and discovered four very long and straight fir trees, freshly cut and trimmed out and looking very, very heavy.

“******* hell, we ain’t got to ******* carry them to the ******* lorry ‘ave we?” says Jumbo.

We managed to carry them out to the lorry, load and tie them on. Jumbo had to take great care turning as the overhang at the back was very worrying. They were dropped off at my place, and put on trestles awaiting the debarking gangs being hastily organised for that night. Anyway, thanks a lot Jumbo, it was ******** worth it!

The following two nights were spent removing the bark, trimming and smoothing. The next night they were painted but this was very difficult because the wood was oozing with sap. Saturday morning they were carried to the field and erected. The pitch was marked out using paintbrushes while the cow dung was removed. We only had a few minutes left to change before the game and the whole team was shattered.

Whether the Stow team changed in the bus or at Rod Manners’ house I do not remember, but we did go back to Rod’s place after the match, where Rod’s wife, Jane, provided sandwiches. At about 5.15pm we could hold Stow no longer, who having a clubhouse could drink the moment they entered the club. By 5.30pm we were waiting outside the Turnpike for them to open. At 5.45pm there were no signs of life so the by now noisy mob moved off to the Vale of the White Horse. We found the doors open. This started a pleasant and friendly relationship between the owners and the club; we now had a pub!

Episode 3.

Our Pub

Tim and Myra Sullivan had not long moved from London to take the Vale of the White  Horse. With them came Myra’s father who was a great help to us in many ways. We were soon given permission to use the ex-British Legion Hut, which was where the squash courts now stand, for use as a changing room. We could now have a bath, a place to have a meal and entertain our guests. Tim, Myra and all the staff were very understanding to us, turning a blind eye when necessary to some of the antics that the lads got up to. Many a time after a drunken new player was spotted by a pub customer we thought a complaint would be made and we would be thrown out. The public certainly must have been full of tolerant “appreciation”!

One evening in January, after a game against Stow, Pete Gifford declared that he would swim the pond naked if a collection made it worthwhile. A collection was quickly made; Pete hastily undressed and walked out the back door to the side of the pond, followed by both teams. He dived in on the side away from the road and struck out for the bank near to the road. By now some of us (the older ones and those who had less beer) myself included, were getting worried because of the mat of weeds and the near freezing cold. Although the progress was a little slow through the weeds, Pete soon made the other bank, which was by now be overlooked by a few car drivers who had stopped on the road. Pete crawled out quite blue with a triumphant look on his face, and a few weeds hanging to his bits and pieces. He was greeted with great cheers as someone went to him with a towel. Not long after this large pike was caught from the pond – it was about 3 feet long. The pike had been eating the ducks. Some of us think the pike was so terrified by the experience that he gave himself up!

Our Bath

Chris Goddard and Rodney Manners were both keen sailors and they came up with the idea that if a boat keeps water out it would also keep water in. We could not build a permanent bath so it was suggested building a wooden bath using marine plywood.  We would be able to take it with us if we had to move from the pub and it would be cheap to make.

The bath measured 8 feet by 4 feet by 2 feet thus utilising the standard 8 * 4 sheets. A wooden frame was made to screw and glue the plywood to, so that all seams were watertight. Through one side was fitted an immersion heater with  a  trailing electric cable. This worked fairly well but would not heat the water to a good temperature as there was too much water below the heater. Later  a modification was carried out; a sump was built, approximately 2 feet by 2 feet, in the centre in the bottom and the immersion heater installed there. This worked much better. At the same time we added a drainpipe, as before that we had the siphon the dirty water out.

You can well imagine the state of the water after about 20 or 25 men (some simply refused to get in) had been in it. The scum on the top was nearly an inch thick, consisting of grass, plasters, hair, congealed soap, dung (cows’ I think), shampoo bottles and the odd jockstrap. At the Vale of the White Horse we had a garden hose with which we siphoned it out into the pond. Myself, being the “John Butler” of the club, had these jobs to do, and I remember lying on my belly, at the edge of the pond, sucking like mad on a 30 yard pipe, knowing that certain death awaited me if I received a lungful of that mixture!

After the game we would try to warn the visitors not to get into the bath while it was switched on. With this we often failed and we would find opposition players warming their toes on the element of the immersion heater.

Later, when we moved to the Band Hall, we would fill the bath by running a hosepipe over the road from Mr Percy Hawkin’s house.  This was done on a Friday, so that the electric could be switched on, because switching on on Saturday was too late to heat the water. I have known it switched on on  Thursday during very cold weather. All the time that we used the Band Hall we never paid a penny for the electricity.

The Dreaded Minety Itch

This was a disease not seen in this country before. It attacked the groin, the testicles, and the inner leg and could be contracted from the Minety bath, and nowhere else.  If you saw a man in a pub, or maybe a man out shopping with his wife, or a man anywhere with both hands in his pockets, scratching like mad, he had it.  As sure as hell he had played rugby at Minety and had used the bath! Because word was getting round we were forced to do something about it. The bath was now filled with about nine parts water and one part disinfectant and  extra care was taken in removing the cowpats from the field which, I’m glad to say, brought this health risk to an end. The cure for the man was to have as much sex as possible (to bring as much new blood to the area) and have a decent wash.

Episode 4.

Union Carbide*

Roger Smith, being the area manager of Union Carbide brought with him to the club many of his men from the Swindon factory, and introduced them to rugby. This gave Minety the much needed support as we were struggling for players. They were Frank Ridding, Paul Hipkiss, Tony Kenyon, Geoff Leach and Mike Atwell. There were others that played on odd occasions, in later years.  Roger (ex Northampton) played mostly fly half and made nearly all of our tries, while Mike (ex Bath Club) played at full-back and gave us most of our points, with his powerful and accurate kicking. He also reduced the possible number of tries against us with his good tackling. Paul took over the full-back position when Mike left.

All were good clubmen and worked very hard off the field, taking most of the top committee jobs. We owe much to these men for getting the club up and running, as I’m sure without them we would have not succeeded.

Club Colours

Our change from white to green and purple took place in our third season. The need to change was forced on us by the ragged and tattered state of our white shirts. Some, by now, had no sleeves and the replacement of single shirts was gaining momentum. Having had the experience of two seasons of noting the other clubs’ colours, and not being in a position to change, should a visiting team have the same colour, we agreed in committee to go for something very different. Green was generally light, and purple was agreed to when I had made it known that I had some old purple paint with which to paint the crossbars!

The shirts were bought and I remember our great pride when we first wore them. At last we had our own distinctive strip. The laundering of the shirts was certainly easier than the white ones.

A year or two on we had an embarrassing mishap with a set of shirts. At the time Keith Brown’s wife was very kindly doing the laundry for us. She had put them in a plastic bag which she put behind her car, ready for a trip to the launderette. Behind her car also happened to be the dustbins awaiting collection by the dustcart. When Pam came to load up, they had gone. Yes, into the dustcart! She telephoned the refuse collection service. No good! They had gone. Another set was quickly bought, never to be left near a dustbin again!

The pitch at Minety Common

Because of the clay subsoil in Minety all fields are difficult to drain. The old-fashioned way was to plough furrows in the top approximately 15 to 20 feet apart leaving, after many years, a rolling wave nature to the land. Our pitch was typical of this, so that after heavy rain one had strips of land and strips of water. It was difficult to run over because of the rise and fall of the land. We used the pitch to our advantage. With lineouts it was better to give a little sometimes to gain the high ground. Set scrums became easier with your pack pushing off the high ground.

Most of the time we used this pitch it was being raised by cows. The only one advantage being that we did not have to cut any grass. The worst thing was having to move the cows before a game and then remove the cowpats.

One home game was being refereed by our local vicar, the Reverend Thomas and the pitch was approximately 30% water. The game came to a stop with the ball in touch but no whistle; the vicar had lost his whistle. We all joined in the search, but no luck. A little later the vicar was seen to be hopping about on one leg with his boot off; he had found the whistle in his welly.

  • Union Carbide – yes, it is that firm that you’re probably thinking of – Bhopal!

Episode 5.

Training in the village hall

The Hall was hired during the darker months of the winter to carry out circuit training, scrummaging, lineouts, set piece moves etc.  The caretaker viewed this evil game with anxiety and alarm and was later instrumental in getting us removed. A report went through to the management committee accusing us of damaging the Hall, which we did not. The only damage to be seen to the paintwork, was caused by the imprint of ‘T’ panelled football! Had we been set up? We then had to rely on more roadwork and Sunday morning training.

Despite the upset with the village hall, we continued to support the fundraising at the joint Village Hall / Church Fete which was held at Minety House. Our “side show” was a kick a penalty. This meant the hard work of digging up one goalpost set and moving it to Minety house and digging it in. Three balls for 10 or 20p, the highest number of penalties got the prize. After a few years of this with little or no thanks, we withdrew our support.

Some of the roadwork was of an unusual type.  Chris Goddard told me the other night, of the time when some members of the team ran naked from the Vale to the Turnpike, were not allowed in and ran back towards the Vale. Halfway down Station Road, they realised that a police car was following, shot up Canters Way (then a tight dead end), ran past the police car, back to the Vale, “home” before the police car could turn and get them. I should add this was at night and I would think that they were not carrying too much beer!

The Band Hall

The Band Hall became available to us during the second season, so during the following summer we moved our bath into it. It was at this time that we built the sump in the bottom, as it was now possible to lower that part through the wooden floor of the Band Hall.  The drain was fitted which went outside direct into the sewer; all this had to be done with no questions asked. We managed to get the Band Hall because the Rev Thomas was a custodian of this building, which had to be used for the welfare of the youth of the village. (Most of us were certainly the youth of the village!) Water for the bath was first of all given to us by Percy Hawkins, a hosepipe being laid across the road. Later water was given by Mr Bishop, who living on the same side of the road, next door, the hosepipe suffered no more traffic damage.

One thing was missing; there’s always someone who wanted a crap, so an Elsen Chemical Toilet was brought along by Chris Goddard. This was positioned in one corner behind the counter, so that the user’s head and shoulders could be seen, and the smell shared by all. It was normally emptied at night by removing the manhole in the road and pouring it down, after spilling much of the contents because of overfilling. Nobody wanted to do it so it was left and left and left!

I think we used the Band Hall for one or two seasons, and then our playing field pitch was ready along with the cowshed for changing, complete with our posh tiled bath.

Club Barbecues

At the start of the second season we kicked off with a club barbecue, to help get the members together. This was held at Derryside, on the lawn which was lit by floodlights. Several brazier type fires were set up to keep people warm. A beer tent was provided, into which everybody was expected to get, had it been wet, but luckily for us it was a very fine night. I think we had sausages and burgers with salads etc.

The big test of the night was drinking competition, using three-man teams. This was because of the large size of the cup. This cup was brought along by Chris Goddard, who told us that his father had made it for himself. Apparently his father had never won a cup in his life and it was the only way he could get hold of one. The cup was huge, had two handles on each side, and held six pints. The three-man team would stand in a circle with the cup in the middle, taking turns to drink, passing it quickly from one to the other. It was a good thing that the handles were well soldered on, because it suffered a rough time, often being dragged by a dry “I’ll show them how to drink beer” from a drowning colleague whose dying thoughts were also “I’ll show you how to drink beer!”

Some of our roses and border plants looked a bit sick for a few days and then came out in the best blooms you ever saw, as a result of all the puking that took place that night.

My bulldog, Enoch (after Mr Powell) got thoroughly drunk that night, becoming legless, by taking the top off many an unattended pint left on the lawn.

It was nights like this that set the foundations for the club, which gave us confidence, and visitors respect for the club that we have formed in Minety.

This was the first of many successful barbecues, the second also being held at Derryside. The third and, I think, the fourth was held at Chris Goddard’s place in Chapel Lane. The venue was again changed this time to Mark Wallington’s, where it stayed for several years, and then moved to John Cooper’s in Oaksey.

The highlight of the first held at Chapel Lane was the roasting of two lambs. This was done by two Argentinian shepherds in the way that they would do on the plains in Argentina. The whole lambs were wired back to the crucifix metal frames which could pivot in the ground. A large fire was made, and the two frames staked nearby, being turned from time to time. This process was started in the morning, and by evening the meat was cooked to a turn, without the somewhat over smoky or burnt taste associated with barbecue meat.

Episode 6.

Our best friend and number one supporter

Mr Leslie Bishop, a very fine gentleman lived in a small cottage next to the Band Hall. He lived with his son Nigel, who was suffering from a brain tumour (although we didn’t know it at the time). He was a big very likeable character who depended on his father for most things, like guiding up to the Vale for their evening dinner. It was a caring sight to see Mr Bishop with his arm linked through Nigel’s, striding out towards the pub. This is where we first met Lesley Bishop. Leslie was a well-educated man who, after five years at Rugby, went on to Oxford. He was the author of seven books, press journalist (The Winnipeg  Free Press of Canada), and a war correspondent in London (he reported speeches of Winston Churchill).

Leslie’s cottage, being next to the Band Hall, and backing onto the playing field, was ideally positioned to provide us with water for our bath. When asked, the reply was, “Help yourself, my dear fellow, and coming and have a sherry.” Always a great welcome. Soon many members of the club became very good friends with Mr Bishop and Nigel, and would call in for a chat and often a drink. On one occasion Frank Ridding, Paul Hipkiss and others called in with some beer. Paul, not realising that Nigel was halfway through his mug of cocoa, thought the mug was empty and filled it with beer. The mixture went down with relish, Nigel quickly presenting an empty mug for a refill, which it was, many times.

Leslie turned up for nearly all the home games, giving the team wonderful and sometimes much needed support.

The news of Nigel’s death shocked and greatly saddened the club members. Nigel died suddenly one night after having a massive brain haemorrhage and it was Mr Bishop’s club friends that promptly turned up to offer help and sympathy. This friendship meant so much to Lesley Bishop that he opened up a trust fund for Minety rugby club in the name of Nigel Bishop. Myself and Keith Bowen were made trustees, and still are today with a fund of nearly £5000.

Mr Bishop became our president, and entertained and amused us with his superb speeches on our social occasions.

He once told me that the club’s friendship and support made it possible for him to get through those difficult days, and later to start to enjoy life once again. Sadly for us, he moved back to his birthplace in Stone, Staffordshire. Before he moved from Minety the club resented Lesley with a collage for him to remember us by. I keep in contact with him and pass on what rugby news I can, as his interest in the club remains a sharp as ever. During a visit to see him, in Stone in August 1994 he asked me to return the collage to the club. This I agreed to do. He felt that at his age he could one day be “kicked into touch” and get the “final whistle” and it concerned him that the collage could be lost to the club for ever.

Minety Playing Field Association

When news reached us that John Miles’s field was up for sale, (the present playing field) a group of us requested the Parish Council to buy the field for the village, to be used for sports activities.  This group later became the nucleus of the first Minety Playing Field Association committee. After much pushing from this group, the field was bought.

The association was formed with Gordon Watson as its chairman. One of his first tasks was to organise a trip to Farnham Common to study an organisation on which we modelled ours. Gordon, while living in Farnham, had been involved in the hard work of creating a sports field there. Gordon Watson was a man of great energy and foresight; the committee responded to his very professional approach, the whole making a great team which got things done. The village owes much to Gordon Watson.

The main objectives were: to turn a rough undrained field with a brook running through it, into a sports field; to become a management team for the upkeep and use of the playing field; and to build a clubhouse with licensed facilities to provide its own revenue.

Money was our first problem; we needed a lot. Fundraising was the only way, and each sports club was asked to do its bit. The rugby club was by now the strongest club in the village, and took the lead, and much is due to the rugby club that the M.P.F.A. succeeded.

The playing field evolved from a bog, into a level, drained, reseeded playing field, which after feeding and mowing was ready for use. We in the rugby club staked our claim on the old cowshed in the corner for use as a changing room. The conversion work was mostly masterminded by John Butler, who was given good support by most club members. A bath was built, this time using concrete blocks, rendered, and tiled. The water was heated by a coal-fired boiler. John is a plumber and this was a masterpiece, the equipment being cadged from jobs being updated. (It did not fall off the back of a lorry; it was delivered in one!) I think I can say without fear of contradiction that John Butler was the hardest working man this club had, or ever will have. Many, many thanks John, the club’s early history would not have been the same, maybe not at all, without you.

The Club Badge

Nearing the end of a committee meeting in the Vale of the White Horse, I was sketching a picture of a cartoon I had seen in a magazine. This picture I have found very funny and wished to show it to a couple of pals on the committee. When I’d finished, it was passed around, causing much laughter and completely stopping the meeting. I was reprimanded by the chairman (I think it was Frank Ridding) and then congratulated on the “clean” lines of the very artistic work of art. It was a picture of a small girl, in tears, with a toy wooden horse on a string. Mounted on the rear end of the horse was a very small jack Russell type terrier, attempting intercourse. After many crude remarks, etc, someone suggested that the horse part on wheels could become our badge. Our headquarters was the White Horse and putting it on wheels gave it a little mystique (if not a turn of speed). A proposer and seconder was found, with the motion carried, so there we have it; the horse with wheels!


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