PocklingtonHistory.com Railway Street (Circa 1880)
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Gallery
Market Place Market Place
Note the new building in the photo on the corner.
Regent Street Regent Street
Note the 'Old Red Lion Hotel'
Chapmangate Chapmangate
Note the independent chapel built in 1807 to the left.
Pocklington Rugby Union Football Club
The following article was written by Phil Gilbank.

The first rugby match in Pocklington took place on West Green on Wednesday 12th November 1879 between eleven men from 'Pocklington Town and District' and a Pocklington School XV. However, the origins of the game in Pocklington go back much further. A rugby-like game of medieval 'mob football' had been played in the town for centuries, with particularly big matches being played every Shrove Tuesday (which was known locally as ‘Ball Day’), and after the annual horse racing meeting on the common at the beginning of May - when the game was played by locals on foot and on horseback!

firstrugby
Newspaper report of the first Rugby match in November 1879


The 1879 match was organized by the Reverend Walter Walters, who had just arrived at Pocklington School as assistant master, and who had been a leading rugby player in Wales and at Cambridge University. For the next few years School and Town combined for a handful or matches each season, before the school adopted soccer as its main winter game and the first Pocklington rugby club - Pocklington FC - was formed in 1887.

1881
1881 The combined Pocklington School and Town Rugby Team

Playing at Feathers Field, Percy Road, and with the club headquarters at the Star Inn in Market Place, Pocklington FC established the game in the town, with an early player being Frank Mitchell (born in Shiptonthorpe in 1872) who later captained England at rugby and South Africa at cricket. Pocklington FC flourished until a rival outfit, Pocklington Parish Church FC started up in 1897 on West Green. The two clubs continued in the town as rivals until 1899, when Pocklington FC gave up. In the 1880s and 1890s the team sometimes went to away games by train, but usually they preferred to  travel by horse and wagonette from Lister’s livery stables in George Street. And after they returned from a fixture at Easingwold after dawn and rather the worse for wear, the star schoolmasters in the side were subsequently banned from playing by the school’s headmaster.

Stamford Bridge vs Pocklington]


The York Herald Dec 6th, 1889
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1890
York Herald - Oct 27 1890

After switching to northern rugby union and moving over the road to play on Thirsk’s Field (many townfolk still tethered livestock on West Green, and the animals and their remains had to be moved before each game), the “Parish” club went on to dominate local rugby in the early 1900’s. They produced many notable players and won several trophies, including the York and District Challenge Cup in successive years in 1904 and 1905. They were also a boisterous lot and were banned from playing for a season in 1901 due to their habit of throwing referees into the beck next to the pitch when they lost!
The club started to struggle just before the First World War, but was reformed as Pocklington RFC in 1919-20 after a number of young men returned home from the trenches. Rugby returned to Percy Road in 1922 with PRFC leasing the ground from the Kilnwick Percy Estate. The side went on to win the Hull & District Cup in 1923, beating Hull Templars at Market Weighton, before financial problems saw Pocklington RFC sell out to the newly formed Pocklington RUFC in 1928 for just five pounds. One of the factors that contributed to the financial difficulties was Pocklington Urban District Council ordering to club to cut the hedge along Percy Road to increase visibility for the town’s growing number of automobiles – which meant that locals could watch the game from outside the ground instead of having to pay to go in.

Pocklington FC 1888-89
The Photograph was taken by Michael Tayleure
outside the Star Inn on Easter Monday 1889.
The captain holding the ball is William Tinson

The new Pocklington RUFC did well in its early years and bought Percy Road in 1932. Hard work saw the club survive through the Second World War when the Squadron Leader of Pocklington Airfield was Gus Walker, a former England international who continued to be involved in the game despite having an arm blown off by a wartime bomb. The club then prospered in the post war period, and a record season coincided with the clubhouse being built in 1948 after the club got special permission from the War Office to build a ‘non-essential building’ using voluntary labour. The boom period continuing into the fifties, before the playing side struggled in the 1960’s, although the club facilities continued to grow and develop. An upsurge began in the early seventies when several new points-scoring records were established and an outstanding side went on to win the Yorkshire Shield in style in 1976.

The club continued to steadily improve and develop its infra-structure, and its standing in northern rugby circles, with regular highlights being provided by some memorable cup runs and triumphs.1985-86 saw the 1st XV win 27 games and lift the Camerons' Yorkshire Clubs Merit Table title.

The 1990s saw further improvements to Percy Road, and established additional pitches on Kilnwick Road. And the thriving junior section, formed in 1981, developed to become a production line of young talent that is admired throughout the county. The success of the club’s youth strategy is demonstrated by the fact that three Pocklington junior sides have become their county age group champions, while over 100 juniors have played for Yorkshire, with ten going on to win junior international honours.

After taking time to adjust to league rugby, Pocklington enjoyed unbridled success between 1995 and 2000, with three championships in five seasons (Yorkshire 1 in 1996, North East 3 in 1998, and North East 2 in 2000). In addition, Pocklington won its own sevens tournament - the Good Friday 'Pock 7s' is Yorkshire's oldest and biggest sevens competition which was started in 1959 - in 1996 and 1998. The 1999-2000 team also lifted the Yorkshire Shield, scored 1257 points with a record of W34, D1, L1, and was Rugby World Magazine's British Team of the Year. When that side broke up a relegation and a rebuilding period followed, before a side packed with local youngsters won the Yorkshire 3 championship with some style in 2004.

Whatever the result Pocklington RUFC aims to provide good rugby and good craic, on and off the pitch, in true Pock tradition. Regular tours spread the club's reputation abroad, and a ladies team was established in 2005. It all adds up to a community rugby club with a proud and distinguished history, that works hard to blend those traditions with 21st century demands and innovation - for more details see the club website, www.pocklingtonrufc.co.uk