Club History 1907 – 1932

A dip in the Club Vaults revealed this super gem. The original Football Section ceased playing in 1932 and was reformed in 1990, some 58 years later.


Old Ruts Football History 1907-1932
by Stanley George Dobson
From the ORA Yearbook 1956

What a thrilling story the life of the Soccer Section is to tell!


Starting life as an unknown Club in 1907, it became one of the best known London Old Boys’ sides, champions of the then strong Old Boys’ League, and finalists in the more famous Old Boys’ Cup — starting on the Haydons Road Recreation Ground and finishing life on a ground of its own — a ground which was acknowledged to be one of the best of its kind and, moreover, actually the result of the members’ labours.


Prior to the 1914/18 war the Association was known as the “Rutlish Old Boys’ Association” and the Section thus played under this name. Records of the pre-1914 period are now rather scanty, but it appears that the opposition was mostly furnished by local sides, and in 1910 the team competed in a local league with such giants of the day as Mitcham Gasworks and Tooting Dreadnoughts.


Of the players in those days the names of such stalwarts as Don Sinclair, Ernie Duff, A. D. Watson,
G. Hastings, T. A. Wright, R. A. Mack, Arthur Rolt, Bill Braddock, W. N. Scott, Fred Roser, Reg Nash, George Urquhart, George Fell, Harry Vicary, “Tanner” Parmiter, Percy Milledge, Eddie Orton, T. B. Atkinson, Eddie Lovell, Alan Gardner, “Flip” Sinclair, Steve Mann and Cecil Waldron come to mind. (Please forgive us if we have forgotten you, but the writer was still at school in those days).


However, we do know that the early teams played hard and enjoyed their games, and were respected by their opponents. One Boxing Day we hear that they blithely took on the School in the morning and the Wesleyans in the afternoon. How they hobbled off the field after the second game!
Then came the 1914/18 war, when the happy band played a far more serious game with the same zest and fervour, some making the supreme sacrifice.


It was not until 1920 that the Section was resuscitated, with a list of friendly fixtures, the home games being played on the School Ground; and thanks to the generosity of the Headmaster (the late Mr. A. N. Disney) we were also allowed to change in the School. Let us not forget the famous round “tin” hut on the School Ground where the officials met to select many a team. Now we were known as the “Old Rutlishians”. Some of the pre-war members returned and new life also came into the Soccer Section. Of course, a number of the old boys had by now joined other clubs, but gradually they drifted back. Alan Gardner, popularly known as “Sandy,” was the first post-war skipper, and what a dour defender he was!


In the 1921/22 season one cup competition was entered — that of the Surrey F.A. Junior Cup, but we went out in the third round to British Bank of West Africa after a 4-4 draw.


During the following season we were able to put three teams in the field; and we were successful in gaining election to the Old Boys’ League and at once made our presence felt by winning the championship of Division II, which was the first football trophy won by an O.R.A. team. We also reached the final of the Surrey A.F.A. Junior Cup, losing to Carshalton Reserves after two replays. Who can forget that 1-0 victory over our neighbours, Merton Reserves, in one of the earlier rounds, and one can still see Alan Burt scoring that all-important goal!


It was at this time that the famous training runs used to take place from the home of Steve Mann, off West Barnes Lane to The Fountain at New Malden! Also at this time the Easter tour to Hastings originated, and what enjoyable times we spent on these tours both on and off the field. The championship of Division I of the Old Boys’ League was annexed during the next season, whilst the junior teams also performed particularly well.


The season 1924/25 saw the Section playing in Senior A.F.A. football for the first time, and playing on their own ground at Poplar Road. May we digress here, and say how much members of the Section, together with other old boys and friends, enjoyed those Sunday digging parties to level out the mound which ran across the middle of the ground. And now they were to taste the fruits of their labours! Who will forget those memorable three grames with the H.A.C. in the A.F.A. Senior Cup and the hospitality afforded us by the representatives of that famous Regiment on the two occasions that we visited Armoury House.


The Section was now getting little or no fresh blood from the School which had, of course, gone over to the handling code; and yet in the Year Book of 1926 we read that the Section was “very much alive”. One of the outstanding performances was the defeat of Old Citizens, an Arthur Dunn Cup side, in the Senior A.F.A. Cup by 4-2, but we were dismissed in the next round by Britannic House after a very stern fight.


Representative honours came our way — Cyril Jenkins captaining the Old Boys’ League side that visited Cambridge University “A” — a side which also included Alan Burt and Harold Green. Billy Eyles, Charlie Gale, Tom Nash, Jos Crisp and Sandy Gardner were also honoured by the League, whilst the Hon. Secretary had, the previous season, been elected to the Council of the Old Boys’ League — an office which he held until a year or two after the demise of the Section.


Perhaps season 1926/27 can be regarded as the most successful ever. The Senior XI won the championship of the Old Boys’ League; but the crowning achievement was probably the success which followed their first invitation to play in the exclusive Old Boys’ Cup, for they reached the final, which was played at Crystal Palace, even if defeat did await them at the bands of the strong Old Bancroftians. A good company of the Association and friends made the journey to the Sydenham slopes, together with about 100 boys from the School. What a team we had, and here it is:- F. V. Dutch (goal); F. L. Campling and C. J. F. Gale (backs); H. Green, C. N. L. Jenkins (Captain) and A. T. Sprangle (halves); A. J. Burt, C. L. Reynolds, T. H. Nash, F. J. W. Eyles and S. W. Evans (forwards).


In the A.F.A. Senior Cup we won a most unexpected victory over a strong Ashford side before a partisan crowd, and here Alan Burt’s famous penalty miss comes to mind; but we were knocked out in the next round by Alexandra Park, and what a magnificent game Freddie Dutch played in goal in this latter match when the defence appeared at one time to be overrun. Oh! and the “A” team of that year! Not a single defeat in their division of the Old Boys’ League, and the never-to-be-forgotten match with Old Tollingtonians when, on foreign soil and with only seven men, they even forced a draw. No wonder they held their own supper at Barneys in the West End. An evening when, with the Cup decorated with O.R.A. colours, Tommy Coysh, Steve Mann (who held the record for playing longevity), Bert Rippington, Tim Dooley, Sandy Gardner, Alec Shields, Dick Heaney and Alfie Rose preened with pride.


Even the Reserves must not be forgotten, for they were invited by the Old Boys’ League to represent that body in one of their School programme matches against Wilsons School, which they won 4-2. And the ground itself came in for its share of glory, as a representative game between the Old Boys’ League and the Southern Amateur League was played there.


From now on it was inevitable that we should feel the dearth of newcomers from the School, but our teams continued to battle bravely. The championship of the Old Boys’ League was surrendered in 1927/28, but not without a keen fight. Representative honours still came the way of some of our players — C. N. L. Jenkins again captaining the Old Boys’ League, and this in another game played at Poplar Road against the Public Schools XI.


We were not yet finished, for the following season we regained the championship of the League, and with it some honours in League representative sides. However, we will draw a veil over our big drop in the League Table in 1929/30, but just recall that the football was still being enjoyed and good friends made on and off the field. The Honourary Secretary was elected to the Old Boys’ Cup Council, showing that the name of the Old Rutlishians’ Soccer Section was still held in high esteem in the Old Boys football world.


And so to the disbandment in 1932 — a supper given to the Section in the Clubhouse by the Rugger Section — a handsome compliment from those already established and who were going to carry on where the Soccer Section had finished. At this supper a presentation was made to the Honourary Secretary.


It is interesting to recall that the four brothers Nash — Reg, Dave (who had a spell with Wimbledon), Esca (who was a member of the team in those historic Cup Final games with Carshalton Reserves), and Tom — all played for us at various periods.


May we append the following records from 1920-1932 — these speak for themselves!