penzance newlyn rfc rugby club

Club History - Origins

Newlyn Rugby Club 1894 - 1944

Club origins | History of Penzance Club

The person credited with being the originator of the Newlyn club was the Rev. Fred Peel Yates in about 1894. Its players were mostly workers from the fishing and quarrying industries, an enthusiastic band who used a chalked ball on moonlit nights to practice.

An early player of note was Tom Hicks, Frank Osborne was the first Secretary, and in 1898-99 they won the Junior Cup. In 1901 O. Gilbert became the first Newlyn player to play for Cornwall.

Relations between Newlyn and Penzance were often strained and an example of this is quoted from a 1906 minute stating that we accept no player or committeeman from Penzance.

In 1911-12 Newlyn were Cornish Junior Champions, with it being at about this time that the building of the Ship Institute, more popularly known as The Mission, provided the club with amenities that were previously lacking.

Despite having only two players left at home, Newlyn honoured one fixture against Porthcurno Exiles, following the outbreak of war in 1914, by including eager volunteers from the Northants and West Yorks Regiment in their side. Donning Newlyn jerseys for a match played at a fortified Porthcurno, all were to sadly lose their lives after going across to France shortly afterwards. Newlyn also lost a number of fine players during the WW1.

Newlyn RFC 1920-21
Newlyn RFC 1920-21
Top Row L-R - Dicky Harvey, - A. Kelynack, J. Reynolds, J. Jenkin, 'Lem' Nicholls, S. Willis
2nd row L-R - Tommy Oates, Joe Tonkin, Jack Jacka, C. Barnes, S. Cocks, C. Gilbert
Front - Alfy Thomas, Tommy Rowe, - Alfred Greene

During the early twenties four players soon made their mark and played for Cornwall. They were Jack Matthews, Dick Curnow, Edwal Rees (who played against the All Blacks at Camborne in 1924) and Nicky Peake, a tremendous virile forward, who played 22 times for the county.

Other stalwart players of the time included Jimmy Jenkin, Alfred Kelynack and Cedric Barnes, all of whom had sons who later played for the Pirates. Officials included Joe Carter and Alfred Beckerleg who were both founders of rugby in Newlyn, and at the latters Yarmouth Stores one could see the telegram stuck in the window each Saturday evening giving the result of Newlyns away match.

Leading players in the thirties included Garfield Kneebone, Dick Kitchen and Jack Stafford, whilst ones who interestingly and deservedly went on to become Life Members of the Pirates included Marty Williams, Ben Batten and Banfield Hitchens. George Richards, one of the youngest survivors from the Titanic disaster, also played for Newlyn at this time.

The ground was at St. Goulder, which had a pronounced slope of notoriety, and was truly rural. Blackberries could be picked from its hedge in September, while abundant primroses graced the hedgerows, and because cows often grazed there in the week it was not unusual to have a preliminary examination of the pitch to remove as many cowpats as possible.

Newlyn V Penzance at St Goulder Hill 1938
Newlyn V Penzance at St Goulder Hill 1938

Newlyn has always had a reputation for producing many fine singers, their players covering a range from Methodist hymns to rugby songs, especially on away matches. The kick-off was even delayed on one occasion at Falmouth when the Newlyn team lined up to sing The Fire Brigade before the pavilion.

One of the last games played by Newlyn at St. Ives in December, 1939, which Newlyn won, included the Batten brothers Ben, Jack and Jim in the side.

By 1944, despite time to reflect on matters of Newlyn-Penzance animosity, a strong desire to amalgamate clearly existed in both camps. The full advantages of fusion could be seen and much amicable and unofficial discussion took place. Newlyn convenors included Tom Cotton, Joe Barron, Francis Cattran, Harry Matthews and Leonard North.

The outlined proposals for amalgamation were almost unanimously received at a well attended public meeting held in St. Peters Schoolroom, and Joe Barron wrote a friendly note immediately after the meeting on November 6th. telling Rex Carr of Penzance that the Newlyn Committee was unanimously for it. If not yet married, at least the engagement could be celebrated

History of Penzance Club

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Penzance & Newlyn RFC




Penzance & Newlyn RFC
Westholme, Alexandra Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4LY
Tel: 01736 351568
Fax: 01736 335319

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