- Monday, 01 August 2011
It all began with 15 men and a dog!
Gosport & Fareham Rugby Club began life on 26 November 1946 when, as Gosport Rugby Football Club, the first match was played in a field in Jellicoe Avenue, Gosport, using scaffolding borrowed from a local builder for posts.
Captained by D.P. 'Digger' Jordan, Gosport RFC could muster only 14 players and took to the field one short until half time when a Commander Southwood, who was out walking his dog, was signed on to make up the full 15! The match, against Portsmouth Harlequins (later merged with Portsmouth RFC) ended in a 3-3 draw - a try apiece - with the Gosport score coming from Robertson.
The following season, the Club moved to Gosport Park, using part of an old Army hut as its headquarters.
In 1949, the Club provided a 36-man crew for the Viking Ship 'Hugin' to row from the Isle of Wight to Lee-on-the-Solent in a Daily Mail publicity stunt that ran into problems when the original crew went on strike! As a result, the Club adopted its current logo of 'The Hugin'.
In 1958, the name was changed to Gosport & Fareham RFC. A year later, the Club was twinned with Royan Ocean Rugby Club as part of the Borough's French Twinning arrangements, which continue to this day.
On the playing side, the Club continued to grow with the formation of a Colts' section (16s-18s) in 1961, a Mini/Youth Section in 1975 and a Women's Section in 1999.
Several players whose careers began at Gosport Park have gone on to 'greater things' achieving honours at every representative level, including top clubs, senior county, all three services, provincial, England 1st XV and England Under 18 level.
The England jersey went to Tom Danby, who represented England against Wales in 1949 when a Harlequins player.
Les White, played for Gosport before a spell with London Irish and was in the victorious Munster team of the All Blacks 1979 Tour - the only Provincial side ever to beat the New Zealanders.
Other 'home grown' players who moved on to the higher levels include Simon Jones (Bath, and South West of England v Australia and New Zealand), Adrian Norris (Harlequins, London Irish, and captain of England Colleges), and Andy Pinnock (Harlequins).
Joe Batley, a product of our Mini/Youth section, won his first England Under 18 cap in December 2013 and was man-of-the-match in the final of the European Championships in Poland when victory over Ireland ensured England retained the title for the third successive year.
Joe is in the current England Under 20s squad and is a member of Gloucester's Academy.
Mark Wells was a product of the Club's mini rugby section and was a first team regular for many seasons before leaving to successfully play National League rugby at Havant, until he returned to Gosport Park as one of the Club's 1st XV Coaches in 1998. Mark led the club to its most successful ever period of success. He returned as Head Coach in the summer of 2011.
As if to underline that Gosport & Fareham are a "true family club", in season 1998-99, the 1st XV took to the field with four sets of brothers playing - Richard & Jamie Daly, Andy & Brett Gamblin, Richard & Matt Hutchinson, and Paul & Gary Middleton.
And on Boxing Day 1995, the team played with four members of the Hutchinson family in the backs - father Robbie at fly half and sons Matt and Simon as centres and Richard on the wing.
It was a real family affair in season 2008-9 when prop Dai Whitehead and his oldest son Josh played in the 1st XV together with fellow prop Andy Patience and his son Tom.
And in April 2014 three generations of the Lewis family played for our Vets - dad Byron, his son Dave (then 1st XV manager) and grandson Tom (1st XV full back).
In season (2001/2), we reached the final of the Powergen Intermediate Cup - no Hampshire team has ever progressed this far in a National Cup competition - and were losing finalists at Twickenham against a powerful Halifax side who gained promotion to the National League a few weeks later.
In January 2004, we moved into a brand new purpose-built £800,000 clubhouse at Gosport Park, mainly funded by Lottery money from Sport England, Fareham and Gosport Borough Councils, and by extensive fundraising undertaken by club members.
During season 2009-10, the 1st XV won promotion from London 3 SW to London 2 SW and the same weekend won the Hampshire Bowl.
In season 2010-2011 the 1st XV won the Hampshire Cup, the senior County Cup competition, after beating two National League clubs - the finalists Basingstoke and Havant in the semi-final.
In season 2011-12 the 1st XV won the London 2SW Championship and were runners-up to Basingstoke in the Gales HSB Hampshire Cup Final (2012), to Portsmouth in 2013 and to Havant in 2015.
The 1st XV played in London 1 South during season 2012-13 but were relegated after only one season.
But they returned to that level for the 2014-15 season after coming second in London 2 South West in season 2013-14, winning the divisional play-off against South East division runners-up Maidstone.
This season (2016-17) the 1st XV are playing in London 1 South - their third successive season at this level (6).