Many Ashbrooke Folk will remember Jon Buddington – rugby player and groundsman at Ashbrooke – and indeed the whole family who had links to Sunderland RFC for many years. Jon is now the grounds’ manager at Oxford University – a privileged position indeed.
While working at Ashbrooke Jon was a keen preserver of our historic material and a great supporter of the archives. This week he has been in touch to remind us that England’s World Cup opponents this weekend – the All Blacks – played a Durham side in Sunderland in October 1924. The match was held at Roker Park and was the first rugby match to be played there. A crowd of 12,- 13, 000 turned up to see a Durham side( which included local Sunderland medic – Dr H E Eccles - in the forwards) well beaten by 43-7. Fifty pupils from Galley’s Field School in Hartlepool were brought to the match for a treat and taken around the museum and Winter Gardens. Intriguingly a local football reporter, attending his first rugby match was able to file a report which still makes for interesting reading in 2019. It ran thus;
“I must say that the match demonstrated a cleanliness in sport which many professionals would do well to emulate. There is plenty of opportunity for foul play in rugby were the players to descend to it but it is not tolerated and it ought not to be tolerated in association football. The decisions of the referee were accepted without demur. There was no chasing the referee, no visual demonstrations of disapproval from the players. YES I think rugby players, those under the union rules at any rate, can teach us something which could be wisely followed by all exponents of the soccer code.”
P.S. Friday is usually blog day. There will be the occasional midweek blog – one planned for the future is on Sunderland’s rugby playing brothers on account of feedback to a blog on the subject a couple of weeks back.