I want to introduce all of you to Streatham-Croydon RFC, based in North Croydon in the heart of South London. Recently you may have seen the Club featured on Sky’s ‘School of Hard Knocks’.
Last year, the Club celebrated its 140th anniversary since its founding in 1871. The Club has seen many changes in the last 140 years and has progressed from its humble beginnings at Streatham Common in the late 19th Century to the new ground in Thornton Heath, which includes a grand-stand, 2 pitches and a Victorian club-house. It has survived the entire 20th Century, including 2 World Wars, and is still going strong!
This is the earliest photo the Club has on record, which dates back to 1895 (check out those moustaches!):
The Club runs three sides of variable standard – from the very competitive 1st team through to the older…..less mobile 3rd team. It also has an active mini section for boys and girls from year 1 to year 7. New to the club in its 140th year is ‘The Salamanders‘, a Women’s XV to complement the existing three men’s teams, who will no doubt show them a thing or two before the season’s out!
In years gone by it was not uncommon for Streatham-Croydon RFC to run 10-11 sides on a Saturday afternoon, playing the likes of Harlequins, London Irish, Bath, and a host of top University teams, but throughout the nineties the Club struggled to raise a team.
Our 140th Anniversary season was pivotal in turning around the fortunes of the Club. A new coaching structure and, dare I say it, a more ‘professional’ approach to the playing side of things, has seen the first XV gain back to back promotions – a rather apt way to celebrate 140 years in the game!
The aim for the Club is to get back into the London Leagues, where many of the Club members feel the Club belongs. There are many rugby people out there who would be saddened to hear of Streatham-Croydon RFC’s plight in the late nineties and would welcome the Club’s return to higher level rugby. It would be interesting to compare the Club’s struggle with the experience of other amateur rugby clubs in London to see whether a decrease in numbers is something that is a trend of recent times in the area.
One thing that has increased the Club’s success has been its appearance on Sky’s ‘School of Hard Knocks’ in its last season, which increased the Club profile nationally and resulted in a fresh wave of new players, a sponsorship deal and a fabulous final game day. Club members had the opportunity to meet rugby greats like Will Greenwood, Scott Quinnell and Colin Charvis in the bar afterwards and got anecdotes to last them a lifetime.
The future looks rosy for Streatham-Croydon RFC, as plans are under way to improve facilities for members, with grant applications completed and plans drawn up for the development of the stand, pitches and clubhouse. These are exciting times for the Club and it is testament to the hard work, love and appreciation members have for Streatham-Croydon RFC.
The Club has revently won an award for their website, which is well deserved as much hard work has gone into the site and into incorporating social media like facebook and twitter into the Club’s communications with players and fans.
By: Chris Ashton (no, not that one), a wannabe stand-up comedian and promoter for The Happy Hooker Comedy Club (for entry deals, see ‘Offers‘), who has been a member of Streatham-Croydon RFC for the last 15 1/2 years and still turns out for the 3rd XV!