OveRton RFC 1971-2019
Overton Rugby Club foundation appears to be lost in the haze of time or beer, although some of the older members can remember going to the Vicarage for meetings with the club’s founder, The Reverend Ted Evans, and being pleasantly surprised by the quantity of Pale Ale stored away
Rev. Ted decided to found this club to give “youth the opportunity to play rugby” in the village, the only problem being a pitch to play on. After discussion with Colonel Hoare, the owner of Southington house, a field next to his house, Town Meadow, which was an old water meadow, was identified as being suitable. This was eventually agreed to and on 24thOctober 1971 the first home game was played against a Basingstoke 1stXV Captained by Mr. J Boyle. The first try for Overton being scored by their Captain Denver Enefer, although Overton eventually succumbed to the stronger team!
A look at the old score sheets shows that one of our members Laurie Shaw scored 40 tries’ in the 1974-5 season with David Brewerton scoring 9!
The first President of the Club was General Adam Block, the Chairman being the Rev. Ted Evans, with Laurie Shaw being the fixture Secretary. Yes, there has been life before Alex Coles! (The fixture sec. Since then) the match fees set by the first AGM on 28thJune 1971 were twenty-two and a half pence! And no subscriptions!!
The first game played was against AWRE Aldermaston a few of those original players still turning out today.
From the outset the club struggled with the wetness of Town meadow and the problems of creosoting the pitch on Saturday mornings. At that stage there was no building on Town Meadow and the ORC building in Bridge Street was used.
It was not until January 1972 that the ORC asked to incorporate our pitch into that organisation which set the seal for a lively relationship over many years! (The club being indebted to them for providing funds towards the first set of shirts, Royal Blue as no other team in the area played in that colour!)
From 1973 the Club started to more away from Sunday games to regular fixtures on a Saturday, although games during the week were not uncommon. By 1974 a building was erected on Town Meadow and became the Clubs base for nearly 20 years, although its heart moved around the various drinking establishments it was allowed to enter at the time. One notable complaint came from the landlord of the White Hart in the mid 70's, who felt aggrieved to complain about the practice of pinning scampi to the ceiling of the lounge bar!! Another time made the national newspapers when one of the forwards ate a newt in the public bar of the Red Lion!!
In 1979 the Club had developed to run two sides.
During the 80’s the Club grew and was involved in a number of village projects including the firework displays and donkey derby’s, both held on Town Meadow. Visiting teams were always surprised to see after the match a grey cupboard wheeled into the clubroom and when opened revealed glasses and barrels of beer. But it wasn’t until the early 90’s that the complicated licensing laws were finely understood!
By the 1990’s the club had grown to 3 sides, winning Hampshire league division 3 and 2 in consecutive years, although it was not uncommon for the 3’rds to tour the local pubs and streets obtaining the correct number of players. This was the era of the “Occassional’s” and their clashing kit!
The first you took place in 1977 to Abercunan in deepest Wales, which entailed being beaten heavily in points and physically as well, although Overton apparently were highly delighted by the bingo in the evening.
1979 saw the club take part in the Testbourne twinning where various sport teams and Parish councilors went to Neuvic-Sur-Isles in the Dordogne region of France. This began a great friendship between the two clubs, which is evidenced by Overton going twice in the early 80; s and them retiring likewise to us.
For the rest of the 80’s the club toured very little occasionally venturing out to the West Country but it was not until 1990 when it was taken up regularly.
East 1990 saw approx 50 players and supports go off to Rotterdam. As well as the festival Overton played against the Hague veterans, Delft and Hook van Holland and were undefeated in all these games. From there the club went to cork in 1992 playing Conacilty, Middleton and Mallow, a hard tour!
1994 saw the clubs return to the fast rugby of South West France at Neuvic and Daglan.
In 1996 the club returned to The Netherlands with approx 50 players having and a very successful trip to Alkmaar, Hoorn and Haarlem again the 1stXV were undefeated.
In 1998 the club accepted an invitation from St Martin du Lac Rugby Club in Burgundy. The club toured there again in 2000, with further visits in 2003, 2008 and 2018.
In 2002 the club’s tour reflected the changing face of Overton RFC itself with a large party of Mini rugby players and their parents accompanying the usual tourist to Neuvic.
This was repeated in 2004 with a joint tour to Valkenwaard in the Southern part of the Netherlands.
In 2005 the club moved away from the standard coach tour and took to their cars for a trip to the Netherlands taking part in Betuwe RC 35 year’s celebrations.
This was followed in 2006 by a small party of players going to Malmady in Belgium for a small festival. The Mini’s branched out that year by them touring to Hilversum in the Netherland to take part in a youth festival.
Further Men’s tour have been to Mons in Belgium and Alkmaar in the Netherlands keeping a long establish tradition alive in the club.
Visitors to Overton
From the early 80’s Overton entertained foreign teams including Neuvic Rugby club from France as part of the Twinning within the Westbourne parishes and a team from Powell River in Canada.
From 1991 the club decided to hold a bi annual festival to make this festival “different” the emphasis from the start was aimed at European rugby teams and so far, we have had teams from many countries including Denmark, Holland, France, Belgium, Scotland, Siberia, Romania, The Czech Republic, and Germany. The Festivals have shown the clubs determination to play rugby whatever has been thrown at them which included flooded pitches in the mid 90s and the use of the Fire Brigade to pump the pitch dry and Foot and Mouth in 2001 whereby the whole festival was moved to Whitchurch School, including the posts!!
Minis, Girls and Ladies
In the 1990’s the club started to look to its future and started a mini’s section, which initially was called GML We also started a girl’ team which was the only side in Hampshire at the time, and had a number of its players selected to play in the Hampshire women side. The club’s women’s team developed from that initial interest and at one stage had a mother and daughter playing in the same side. Then we hit a problem, four pregnancies in one season, not the usual problem a rugby club has to deal with! The women team finally succumbed in 2001!
The minis have grown from strength to strength with a youth side being formed in 2005. Most of those boys played in the Testbourne School XV which won the Services Emerging School national trophy at Twickenham in 2005.
The clubs Youth and Mini sections are now an equal partnership with the men’s side of the club contributing to all aspect of the life of the club.
By the late 80’s the committee had now recognized the fact that the club had grown and was attracting players from far outside Whitchurch and Overton and although Town Meadow had been secured the constant flooding was causing great problems, new pitches where urgently needed. Overton school was also used for many years as the “other” pitch, but for those who played on its slope realised that another site had to be found.
This search took many years but with the selling of Laverstoke Estate a new opportunity was seized whereby the new owner Mr. Jody Scheckter allowed us to take on the Cricket pitch in Laverstoke. So, in 1997 it was with much discussion and sadness that we moved to one of the few thatch rugby pavilions in the country.
The development at Laverstoke has been done with the usual self-help that has been the haul mark of Overton over the years and it was with great delight that the renovated club house and changing facilities were opened in December 2010. a great difference from the club’s foundation in 1971.