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Harrogate RUFC

Harrogate RUFC

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History of Harrogate RUFC

The J.W. Ackrill is believed to be connected to the Ackrill family, who founded the Ackrill newspapers. Additionally, J.W. Ackrill served as the Honorary Secretary of the rugby club during the 1873-74 season. In the Harrogate Herald Newspaper dated Wednesday, April 13th, 1887, there is a report about a benefit match for Tom Gospel, who had been playing for the club for an impressive 17 years at that time. Notably, the Fawcett family had four brothers, and T. Fawcett held the position of Captain for the 1873-84 season.

This historic photograph captures 16 players, and it’s important to note that during this era, the number of players on a team could vary, sometimes reaching up to 20 players. Captains would agree on the numbers for each team before the game, allowing for a handicap system when one team was stronger than the other. It’s interesting to observe that moustaches and beards were in vogue at the time, and the boots lacked studs. Some players improvised by attaching strips of leather to the soles to enhance their grip. J. Foggo acted as the club’s umpire.

It’s worth remembering that the rugby game played in 1871 differed from the modern version. International matches involved as many as twenty players on each side, and local games could have uneven numbers on each team.

Here’s a timeline of Harrogate Rugby Club’s early history:

Harrogate RUFC

  • 1871: Founded as Harrogate Football Club. The inaugural match took place on December 16th, 1871, opposite The Coach and Horses in the area now known as West Park Stray. Harrogate fielded 16 players against Leeds’ 11. Unfortunately, Harrogate lost the match, with Leeds scoring one goal and five touchdowns while Harrogate managed only one touchdown. Notably, the Fawcett brothers, Frank, Fred, Tom, and William, all participated in this game. This was the only game Harrogate lost in the club’s first four seasons.

1875: The club’s early days were spent at Dragon Fields, which stood opposite the present-day Smiths the Rink.

1896: On the 19th of December, the Harrogate Football Club relocated to Claro Road, marking a significant milestone in its history.

1903: In a memorable match at Claro Road, Harrogate played against Canada and valiantly battled, despite losing 5-0.

1905: The club achieved a historic milestone by winning the Yorkshire Cup for the first time. They secured victory with a score of 7-5 against Wakefield Balne Lane on April 22, 1905, at Castleford, following a 5-5 draw on April 15, 1905.

1906: Harrogate Old Boys emerged as a separate entity, forming from the HFC 2nd XV.

1907: The Harrogate Football Club once again triumphed, winning the Yorkshire Cup on April 13, 1907, by defeating Headingley with a score of 11-6 at Castleford.

1914: A significant shift occurred as HFC transitioned into a soccer club, while rugby continued to thrive under the name Harrogate Old Boys.

1923: Harrogate R.U.F.C. was re-formed, marking the club’s re-entry into rugby.

1926: Harrogate Old Boys took a significant step by purchasing Claro Road.

1928: The changing rooms at Claro Road were inaugurated, considered the best in the county.

1936: Harrogate R.U.F.C. and Harrogate Old Boys amalgamated, paving the way for a new era.

1945: Harrogate Old Boys agreed to a name change, becoming Harrogate RUFC.

1948: The formation of a Colts team, under the guidance of Mr. G. Ashcroft, demonstrated the club’s commitment to nurturing young talent.

1949: The club achieved another milestone by winning the Yorkshire Cup, defeating Skipton with a score of 20-6 at Otley.

Harrogate RUFC

1957: The addition of Harrogate Georgians (Ex Civil Service, St Georges Road) enriched the club’s tradition, preserving the name for posterity as the second team title.

1963: A clubhouse at Claro Road was officially opened on September 2, 1963, becoming a hub for the club’s activities.

1965: Harrogate once again tasted success, winning the Yorkshire Cup by defeating Wakefield with a score of 9-8 at Otley.

1968: The club’s achievements extended to winning the Daily Telegraph Northern Merit Table, solidifying its presence in the sport.

1971: The club celebrated its centenary, marking a hundred years of history and tradition.

1972: The Bantams, now known as the Mini/Junior section, were formed, representing one of the first of their kind in the country.

1981: The club continued its legacy by securing another Yorkshire Cup, defeating Morley with a score of 12-3.

1990: A notable promotion from Division North 1 to Division 4 North underlined the club’s growth and success.

1991: The club retained its Yorkshire Cup glory by defeating Otley with a score of 23-4 at Scatchard Lane, Morley.

1992: The club’s journey in the league continued to rise as they were crowned Division North champions and promoted to the newly formed League 4, finishing in 2nd place.

1993/1994: The club’s strong performance continued with a 2nd-place finish in Division 4.

1994/1995: In Division 3, the club maintained its competitive spirit, finishing 7th.

1995/1996: The club’s consistency in Division 3 saw them finish in 6th place.

1996/1997: Harrogate’s performance in Division 3 remained strong, securing a 5th-place finish.

1997/1998: The club faced tough competition in Jewson National Division 1, ultimately finishing 14th.

1998/1999: In Jewson National 1, the club’s performance improved, finishing 12th.

1999/2000: The club’s upward trajectory continued in Jewson National 1, securing a 6th-place finish.

2000/2001: Harrogate’s journey in National 1 saw them finish 5th. They also represented Yorkshire in the National 7’s Cup.

2001/2002: The club’s success in National 2 was highlighted by a 4th-place finish. They continued their Yorkshire Cup victory, securing another title against Wharfedale, and excelled in the National 7’s competition.

2002/2003: Harrogate maintained their 4th-place finish in National 2, winning the Yorkshire Cup against Doncaster with a close score of 13-12 at Morley. They were runners-up in the National 7’s Cup representing Yorkshire.

2003/2004: The club’s journey in National Division 2 saw them finish 8th.

2004/2005: In National Division 2, the club finished 10th.

2005/2006: Harrogate faced a challenging season in National Division 2, finishing 13th but avoiding relegation due to a league reshuffle.

2006/2007: The club competed in National Division 2 and finished 14th, resulting in relegation.

2007/2008: In National Division 3 North, the club made a competitive return, finishing 6th.

2008/2009: The following season saw the club improve, finishing 5th in National Division 3 North.

2009/2010: In National League 2 North, the club continued to excel, securing a 4th-place finish.

2010/2011: Harrogate maintained their competitive spirit in National League 2 North, finishing 6th.

2011/2012: In a challenging season, the club finished 14th in National League 2 North and was relegated.

2012/2013: The club showcased resilience by winning a play-off against Sutton Coldfield and securing promotion to National League 3 North.

2013/2014: In National League 2 North, the club finished 9th, demonstrating their competitive edge.

2014/2015: Harrogate continued their strong performance in National League 2 North, finishing 4th. They also added another Yorkshire Cup to their collection by defeating Wharfedale with a score of 16-12.

2015/2016: The club maintained their competitive spirit in National League 2 North, finishing 7th. They once again secured the Yorkshire Cup, this time defeating Sheffield Tigers with a dominant score of 38-3.

Harrogate RUFC

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