Gold, green and black
PUBLISHED: 09:53 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 09:53 16 May 2013
Archant Norfolk 2012
It's a golden season for North Walsham Rugby Club. Not only is the main team riding high in the league, they also go into February with the tantalising prospect of being just three games away from a first-ever appearance at Twickenham - and the club is celebrating its 50th anniversary season.
Thousands of people have been introduced to rugby, and many have gone on to a life-long love of the game, thanks to North Walsham Rugby Club.
It was founded by teachers from Paston School and North Walsham Secondary School, and a local policeman.
Today there are around 600 members, including 300 playing members.
The club has three adult teams – plus teams for youngsters aged from six right through to 17, all based at its ground in Norwich Road, Scottow.
President Nick Beardshaw has been a member all his adult life, arriving in North Walsham as an 18-year-old and playing for almost 20 years, including serving as club captain and chairman.
“It’s been an important part of my life every winter,” says Nick. “Once you get to understand the game it’s fantastic – to play and watch. And the camaraderie of the club is great, the friends you make.”
Nick, who is 60, no longer plays but says: “It is the hardest game in the world to give up! The ethos is quite unique.”
Players start as young as six, and the oldest player in a recent third team match was 61.
Nick’s brothers were also North Walsham players, and his nephew, Joseph, played for England as a teenager, and went on to become a professional rugby player. He has since returned to Norfolk and helps out with coaching at North Walsham.
Nick says the club is also proud that England’s Tom Youngs, who was primarily a Holt player, joined North Walsham for half a season to help with a push for promotion.
In its current league, teams play fixtures as far afield as London, and in the past the club has travelled all over the country, from Cornwall to Northumberland.
Players have sported the same green and black colours for the entire half century – and Nick is very confident about the next 50 years.
“The junior and youth side of things is so vibrant. Every Sunday morning there are 100 or 150 children training or playing.”
However, he cannot guarantee that his one-year-old grandson will play for North Walsham as his daughter married a Holt player. “There is a friendly rivalry!” he says.
Anyone interested in joining the friendly, thriving club on the threshold of another 50 glorious years, should contact North Walsham Rugby Club.
North Walsham Rugby Club, Clubhouse, Norwich Road, Scottow. NR10 5BU; 01692 538808.