Hamilton Rugby Club, 121 Bent Road, Hamilton, ML3 6PU

01698 200021

The Formative years

1927
Club Formed

Sometime after 7.30pm in Motherwell Public Library on June 29th 1927 a birth occurred. At a meeting of Dalziel HSFP it was proposed to form a new rugby club with the prime intent of providing opposition. Thus Hamilton Academy FP rugby club came into being. The connection with the school now called Hamilton Grammar continued to be strong until 1978 when the influence of the school lessened although even today in 2005 many members are past pupils.

Games were played, in the early days at a pitch near the present day Palace grounds. We have photographs of a game played in 1931 where we can see the only person positively identified as a founder member, Andrew Clark, late of 68 Union Street and whose son Archie went on to be Treasurer in the late sixties. Games in the 30’s were purely friendlies against the likes of Dalziel, Lanark, Uddingston, Wigtownshire and Glasgow and Ayrshire teams.

1936
Laigh Bent established

 

 

 

In 1936 the school launched a huge fund raising campaign the proceeds of which established Laigh Bent ( Low Hill). This was the site and bing of a colliery of that name. The Clubhouse burnt down by vandals in 1976 was built but it stood on the lower ground just behind the present day 2nd XV goalposts. The Rugby club contributed greatly to the establishment of Laigh Bent along with the FP society which consisted mainly of a soccer section , choral section and a cricket section although there were also tennis courts where today we have a wilderness.

The club shut down during the war 1939 – 45

  The Post War Early Years
1945 back
in the game

Restarting after the war saw men such as Bill Russell, Hamish Robb, Dougie Dickson, Tom McRae and many others continue to play at Laigh Bent. A second XV was established. Clarkston (GHA) were beaten in 1949.

The only player who definitely played before and after the War and who went on to be a stalwart was Hamish Kinnell, “Fur” to the sophisticated. Hamish indeed played on to past 50 when in 1972 his hat trick of drop kick penalties for the 2nd’s against Uddingston took him to 100 drop goals in his club career. Remarkable. Hamish , in the later years was wont to recover from a rugby injury at five to three the following Saturday! Hamish is a past President and his death just weeks before the opening of the Clubhouse in 1999 was most unfortunate.
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1950's
Banished from Laigh Bent

Banishment from Laigh Bent occurred in the mid fifties. Someone had left beer cans in the pavilion!! Since the Rector lived in a house on the site of the present pavilion this was hard to conceal. He and his Labradors patrolled the grounds well and there was no Mill United encroachment then. No Sir.

1959
Back to
Laigh Bent

 

 

Sandy Kilpatrick and Jim Morris joined the club in the late fifties. Dr Fraser Kay was President at this time and soon permission to use the facilities was restored. His gentlemanly approach ushered in a golden era for the club. A highly successful school side of 1959 joined the club en bloc and the following years saw like influxes. With no leagues Hamilton were outside the closed shop unofficial championship but were dominant entirely in Lanarkshire and won most games played in the 60’s. A spirit of friendliness and enjoyment continued to motivate the club. Indeed in 1959 in the author’s first game for the 1st XV a prop Ian Brown scored and the reaction of the team was not to offer the usual congratulations by clapping. No the whole team went berserk with mirth some on their backs kicking their legs in the air “Broon dis’nae score” was the explanation to a bemused newcomer. Ian went on to start Mini Rugby and his sons play today for the 3rd’s.

A Golden Era

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1966
A winning Team

In the 60’s too the Lanarkshire sevens was started in collaboration with Dalziel. This tournament ran for over 30 years. Hamilton won the first 7 tournaments and also Wigtownshire 7’s in 1965 and 1967. A 3rd XV and the a 4th XV were started. Male only rugby dinners marked the end of the season and robust indeed was the hotel which had us for two consecutive years. The older members of that day said they were very tame and regaled us with tales of jumping off the Avonbridge hotel roof with a door for a sail cum parachute. Present day warm ups did not exist rather the team would play keepy uppy with the ball by head and foot and if we got to 15 then we knew we would win. That way we were not too tired for the game! For a 3.00pm kick off the meeting time was 2.30pm. In 1960 the committee decided that drinking on the way to a game was a droppable offence. This did not apply on the way home. With laxer drink drive laws fond memories remain of pubs such as the Paraffin Lamp, the Eglinton Arms, the Popinjay and many others. Jackie Dunn played for Senior Glasgow though he had joined Hillhead by that time. John Hay was a stalwart of Junior Glasgow for many years. In 1962 – 63 there was no rugby from the 19th November till March 11th due to snow and ice.
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  Introduction of League Rugby
1970's
League's Introduced

In the 70’s the volume of players increased and the club opened up its membership to anyone wishing to play rather than purely Hamilton Academy FPs. The minutes of 1976 tell us of 6 teams playing under Ricky Wright's captaincy with Mike Marron in his first season with the club playing for all six teams (from 4As to 1sts - not the other way round I would like to add! -Editor). In 1977 again we fielded 6 teams, 121 games with the 1st XV playing 30 games. Bill Noble was captain that year. He is now a Melrose coach.

Leagues arrived in this decade too and initially things looked bright. Finishing 4th in National Division 5 in 1974, 3rd the following season and 4th again in 1978. Always in contention near the top of Division 5 but unable to get any of the promotional spots.

 

The Start of the Decline

1976
The nomads

 

 

 

1978
Laigh Bent
Sports Club

With the destruction through fire of the old pavilion in 1976 and the large number of teams there started a strange nomadic period in the club’s life. This together with the fact that we had an undeveloped coaching system saw Hamilton mark time and indeed drift down.

A contributory factor too was our joining with the re-established FP soccer club to buy a clubhouse in Cadzow Street. This took an enormous effort and undoubtedly deflected energy away from purely rugby matters. We remained there for 23 years and the clubhouse kept numbers up although affecting the quality of play. Indeed we can safely say that, without fault on either side, rugby players and football players are a somewhat less than satisfactory mix.

The lack of a fixed centre was a marked feature of the club in those days of the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s. There was a cold chilly pavilion down the road at the Bent Recreation Area and this was the main changing venue especially for the newly emerging Minis.

The 1st XV changed and played there too but often changed there and travelled on foot up the road to Laigh Bent. However all teams often changed and played at the Palace Grounds. For a period too we hired pitches in Coatbridge at Espeyside for the lower teams. We occasionally played too at East Kilbride and once at Mount Vernon. These were all Home fixtures.

On a frosty morning checking the pitches took some time. At the end of games at all these places there would be a dash to Hamilton town centre to bag a parking place before going on to Laigh Bent Sports Club. Compare that activity to the restful facilities of the club now. Training was at St John’s school’s gym, at the Grammar School’s Games Hall or at Strathclyde Park either at Bothwell or the Palace. Nick Schaschke and Ian McKillop were important players at this time.

Also during the 70's the new logo "Clark" the Bull arrived on the scene courtesy of Douglas Schaschke this together with his Caricatures of the 1st XV have become an enduring feature of the club. Sadly Douglas past away in December 2009 but his art work of the various achievements can be seen in the club house and an example can be viewed by clicking the image of Clark in the left hand column.

David Leslie, the “beast” retired to become a referee and became a Scottish International Referee. He was probably the most distinguished former player of the club in Rugby terms until the emergence of Richard Maxton as an age group and club internationalist in the late 90's.

  We Bottom out

 

1988
Relegated to District

 

 

1980's
Youth Rugby Introduced

 

 

 

The 80’s saw a continuation of good player numbers but with a playing record that can best be described as progressively stagnant.

We dropped out of the National leagues in 1988 relegated to the Glasgow District leagues. The decline continued with the low point being the 91/92 season when having won only 4 games we narrowly avoided relegation to Glasgow District Division 2.

However, the introduction of youth teams came upon the scene and Sandy Kilpatrick had 18 years of good fun with the under 18’s helped by Sandy Cherry (Plum) and John Agnew. They were friendly but rather haphazardly organised (“I want 80% effort for 100 minutes”) best summed up this quasi coach’s approach. However in 2002 11 members of that system regularly turned out together for the 1st XV. Welshy was a member of the first under 18 and played legally for 5 seasons.

Ron Gregory was President for a good period and started to put matters on a better organisational basis. Paul his son was the lightest forward to play for the club at about 9 stone soaking wet. Simpy further developed Mini rugby and Ali Jones was well established in furnishing future players for us (and Cambuslang , curse him).
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  We Sort ourselves out

 

 

 

 

1995
Back to
National
Leagues

1st Trip
to France

The 90's would have been unequivocally the Gemmell days had it not been for a very welcome superfluity of extremely talented individuals headed by John Allan. Hamish McGregor and Ian Smith. These men came up with the superb business plan that brought us our great pavilion. This after John had taken the Minis by the scruff of the neck involving parents in a way we had never seen the like and starting the Midis.

David Gemmell was the inspirational captain. Helped by Duncan Ryan and Ian Leggate the coaching improved immeasurably and paved the way for our present magnificent team of coaches. Suffice it to say that although player numbers were smaller among the Seniors the quality steadily improved and we regained promotion to the National leagues in 1995, with hooker Kevin Rodgerson finishing the season as top try scorer (he claims he should also have been player of the year for the second time in a row but "was robbed!!"- Ed). The youngsters began to stream through and the successful twinning with CRAC of Chatellerault also helped. Stewart Hamilton arrived in 1996 providing support and encouragement to David and the rest of the team.

1998
The perfect
season
played 18
won 18

1999
Clubhouse
Opened

1998 was the next milestone when we took our first national title, winning Division 7 in the perfect season 18 out of 18 with an outstanding 783 points for 140 against. This was achieved with a fixture list which included away trips to Orkney, Lossiemouth and Newton Stewart.

The following year we again won promotion and the century closed with the opening of our magnificent clubhouse. We all looked forward to the new Millennium.
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  The rise and rise of Hamilton Rugby
2000
Win Playoffs Promoted to National 4
Every one is up beat in the year 2000 we finished mid table in our first year back in Division 5 West and with the arrival in the summer of Mogsy (Ian Morrison) the whirlwind was about to begin!!!!. In the 2000/1 season David Gemmell in his ninth year as Captain leads us out of the regional leagues as we win the playoffs. Then the following season Craig Thomson is captain as we are promoted from National 4. Stuart Eynon had arrived with Mogsy in 2000 and took over the capataincy as our rise up the leagues continued. Up again from National 3 in 2002 and from National 2 in 2003.

2005
National 1 Undefeated
Champions

At the start of 2004/5 season Frenchy (Allan French) and Bob Borland joined the coaching team and we finished the season as undefeated champions of National 1. Douglas Schaschke creates the "Angry Bull" as an additional image.

2006
Premier 3 Champions

plus more

On 18th February 2006 we were crowned Premier 3 champions securing the only promotion spot as the leagues restructure. Taking us into Premier 2 for the first time in the clubs History for Season 2006/7. In addition 3 other teams in the club won their leagues as well to round off a great year.

 
2007
Premier 2
Off to a poor start in Premier 2 the concern is has the bubble burst but a good recovery to finish 5th missing out on one of the three promotion places.
2008/9
Relegation to Premier 3

So for the first time in eight years we started a new season in the same league we finished in last year. Hopes were high as former captain Bill Noble returns during pre season as fitness and conditioning coach and former mini and youth player Richie Maxton returns to the club after a number of season with Glasgow Hawks. Allan Dodds took over the captaincy from Stuart Eynon and the August friendlies show the preparations have gone well. However, pre season injuries take their toll and we got off to a poor start, after the high hopes of the summer the focus was now on consolidation, a recovery mid season made sure we retained our place in Premier 2 but with a number of players moving on everyone worries about the future.

The team struggles in 2008/9 and by November we were sitting in 10th place . Unfortunately things did not get better in the New Year and despite going close in many matches the 1st XV could not get the needed victories and finished bottom of the league to be relegated for the first time since 1988. On the up side the season saw many of last season's 2nds step up an perform well in their 1st XV debuts. Despite losing many of their young stars from the previous year the 2ndXV after a poor start showed a remarkable recovery to finish 4th in their league and again blooded a number of youngsters into senior rugby.

Our Youth sides continued to show promise with Ross Inglis winning two caps for Scotland Under 17 and Joe McQuade being selected for Glasgow Under 16s and the National Camp at Struan. In addition, ten youngsters from the Under 15 squad and another 10 from the Under 14 squad made it into the Glasgow Chiefs and Lanarkshire Lions squads respectively.

  The end of the decade and a time of Change
2009
A time of change.

The season started well for both the 1st & 2nd XVs full of young players who had come up through the youth sections. Under Richie Maxton's captaincy the team reached the end of September with four victories out of five and a barrel load of tries as the young backs show their pace and skill. But as the weather changes so does the teams fortunes and by mid November the stats had been reversed with ony one win out of five. Mogsy decides to call it a day and Stuart Eynon steps up as interim head coach. Stuart rallies the troops and an immediate improvement sees the team put in some strong performances to finish 4th in the table.

The Under 16s make it to the final of the National Bowl but lose out to a strong Howe of Fife team in the final. Chris Stannage joins Ross Inglis in the Under 18 Glasgow side and the Youth section is well represented again in the Glasgow and Lanarkshire sides. As the season ends new coach Dale Lyon joins assisted by Stuart Eynon and the 7s enjoy a good spring season.

2010
A new beginning

The Summer of 2010 sees major work at Laigh Bent with the playing area enclosed, three new pages laid and the gym refurbished. In addition "Clark" is retired to be replaced by the angry bull "Bentlaigh" as the club's logo

The start of the 2010/11 season shows early promise with the young Bulls dominated by home grown players lifting two pre season trophies at Lasswade and Annan.

When the season proper gets underway the 1stXV reach the end of October undefeated before tripping up on the road at Morgan then losing to Whitecraigs at home. Normal service is resumed when they win their next game but then the weather takes its toll and two months go by before another game is played. The season ends with the 1sts securing second spot at Dalziel on the 9th April and its back to Premier 2 for 2011/12.