As the rugby season comes to a close, there is plenty still to look forward to. After a season which has seen a lot of positives for most of our sides, the 1stXV can still look forward to a home game with close league rivals Hartlepool while rugby fans in general can pencil in a rare visit of Durham County on 4 May when the rivals will be the mighty Lancashire. Time perhaps to reflect on what a grand old rugby club we have here at Ashbrooke Sports Club!
This is the earliest photograph of a Sunderland side - taken in the club’s very first season 1873/4. There are only 13 players. Why? Not because Rugby League had been invented (which it hadn’t) but because two of SRFC’s founding members – the Laing brothers – had gone back to school in Berkshire. One of the brothers was to become school rugby captain. The previous school captain had recently been to an interesting meeting in London – the purpose? To set up the RFU!!
And Arthur Laing was to come back from school to captain SRFC to the first ever Durham County Cup final and victory in 1881. He is sitting beside the cup. In front of him and wearing a cap is Durham County’s first England international (and world pole vault record holder) – Harry Kayll. Laing’s brother is on the left standing and wearing a cap.
And finally, with the county fixture in mind, here is a photograph of a remarkable match which took place at Ashbrooke in 1936 to celebrate 60 years of Durham rugby. The visiting side consisted of many of the greats of 1930s rugby including the legendary Prince Obolensky – but more on this nearer the date of the county match.
Next up – cricket!