1945-1969 - BRFC

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1945-1969

HISTORY
FIRST LIFE MEMBER
Brixham Rugby Club Honours Its President
Brixham Rugby Club has conferred its first honorary life membership on Mr. H. M. Smardon, the president, in appreciation of his long service to the game and the club. Mr. Smardon has been associated with Rugby for over 60 years. He has also been captain and hon. secretary of the Brixham club. He is the senior member of the Devon County Rugby Union and has been president twice. For over 20 years he was hon. secretary of the Devon Rugby Referees' Appointment Committee.
Western Morning News - Tuesday 27 May 1947

Smardon was soon followed by a second Honorary Life Member - W G Pemberton, the Fixture Secretary.  Quite why is an interesting question as he had no history with the Club.  He died within a year of receiving the honour.

When Harold MacMillan said in 1957 that "you've never had it so good" the officials of Brixham Rugby Club might have wondered whether he was talking to them.  After a brief post war surge in interest, gate receipts had fallen by about 75%.  Another income stream - membership subscriptions - had seen a similar fall.  On the expenditure side, attempts to provide more attractive fixtures by  offerring "guarantees" to visiting teams had failed to arrest the decline.  Travelling costs had been reduced somewhat as longer trips were cut back but the costs of insurance and payments to injured players had scarcely changed.
By 1955 the Club had been in danger of folding and only grants from the Devon RFU and donations were keeping it afloat.  The Supporters Club, raising money mainly from Dances, Whist Drives and Raffles, had been a continued source of money but what money had been made in the good years had been spent on Grandstand repairs and an annex to the Club's building.
Against this background the Club succeeded in obtaining a license for a bar.  With the building works paid for by the Supporters Club this opened in October 1958 and immediately started to make a valuable contribution to Club revenues.  Two years later the introduction of a "Tote" added another source of income but the Club was not out of the woods.
Since the War the increased interest in Association Football (and a decline in Rugby teaching in schools) had been a problem.  This was exacerbated by National Serrvice taking young players away from the Club.
"Gates were down last Season.  This we believe was not due entirely to Television but because people were working and could not afford the time to watch Rugby Football.
We managed at times to run Four XVs, this is itself being a record for the Brixham Club.  Of the Seventy or so playing members in the Club most of them live in the Brixham area and are of the 16 to 21 age groups"
from a letter written to Vice Presidents and friends in July 1962.

"During the 1962/63 season we produced a 1st XV which while showing only mediocre results from a winning point of view, gave us rugby of a very high club standard and created a very good impression on such clubs as Exeter, Oxford University Greyhounds, Worcester and Cross Keys, all strangers to Astley Park until last season.
We put out three teams regularly and very often four.  However whilst we consider this to be a very creditable achievement, we have come to the conclusion that four teams is stretching our total resources too far.  We intend threfore to run only three teams during the coming season.
Last year we cut down expenses considerably.  Takings on the gate increased.  We improved the club facilities.  Unfoortunately our other sources of income, with the exception of bar takings, decreased.  Again as previously we had to depend a great deal on the unstinting generosity of our Vice Presidents" 
from a letter written to Vice Presidents and friends in September 1963.

Whilst our playing record over the past two seasons has been at 'rock bottom' , we are hoping for better things to come.  There is only one way now and that is upwards.  By economising in every possible way last season, we were able to reduce our liabilities by approximatelt £100.  'Gate' money nowadays is almost negligible and we depend even more on subscribers and members donations.
A very encouraging feature of pre-season activities, is the entusiasm with which our new committee are approaching the job of rebuilding the club.  Our main aim this year is to improve the amenities at Astley Park, both for our own club and also for the benefit of other organisations who use it.  Furthermore we hope to increasethe membership and revitalize the club as a result."
from a letter written to Vice Presidents and friends in August 1965.
As one looks back on the season it would be a very poor person who did not have a sense of pride in what has happened at Astley Park during the Past season.  To come back from being written off as a Rugby Football club to one of running 5 sometimes 6 sides is surely a success story of no means small proportions.
The First XV   Played 43  Won 13  Lost 27  Drawn 3  Points for 258  Points agt 526
    With an average age of 19 1/2 the chiefs have given hope of a lot of promise which only on occasions got "with it".  However it is hoped with its youth it will mature into a very fine side.
Second XV (Reserves)   Played 39 Won 14 Lost 22 Drawn 3 Points for 318 Points agt 343
    The reserves had by far the best of games for this season having their best season for many years.
Crusaders (Extra Second XV)    Played 12  Won 4 Lost 5 Drawn 3 Points for 82 Points agt 58
    The Crusaders XV started off as an additional XV when it became apparent that we had a large number of younger players to cater for.  The age limit for this side was fixed at under 21.  Of this side 7 went forward to the Devon Colt trial; 6 played for the first XV.
Barbarians        Played 16  Won 4 Lost 11 Drawn 1 Points for 105 Points agt 154
    A side composed of older players who have given so much to the game.
The under 16 XV   Played 10 Won 2 Lost 7 Drawn 1 Points for 34 Points agt 94
    We were the first club to consider under 16 XV football.  The reason that we started this Xv was to encourage boys to join the club in this age bracket.
J D Irvine, Team Secretary's Report for the Season 1965/6 (excerpts)
For the 1965/66 season the accounts show that over two-thirds of the Club's income was derived from the Social Club (Bar and Tote).  Overall the club had an operating surplus of over £950 and using the Loan account which had been set up during the year was able to clear its overdraft and spend almost £2500 on improvements.  As the total income for the year was only £1750 this was clearly a significant investment in the facilities.

 
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