A Recent History Article by Les Towler...
When I joined Bolton RUFC in July 1977, my first pre-season training session took place on the grassy Rugby pitches of New House Farm. From there we adjourned to the Queen Anne in Little Lever where I was introduced to the likes of 'Middy' and 'Blez' a couple of likeable rogues. I was even interviewed for the Club newsletter 'The Lion Hunt' bcause I could 'play a bit'. It was all downhill from there!!!
New House Farm, some of the best council pitches in Bolton. Only because there was grass on them all year round. Here you could find the best top quality Lancashire mud, ankle deep and it was only the middle of October! And then I went on a 3-handed pub crawl to raise funds, well, I am sorry Middy and Blez, but I would have undone the knot (can't say any more).
Fund-raising, for what? From the mid-70s there had been whisperings and then open talk of pitches being available on land reclaimed from an old mill site at Mortfield. Eventually plans were drawn, and Sunday mornings were spent stone-picking on the barren mud-flats at Avenue Street. Where's all the grass? We dreamed that one day this bleak (as it always was on Sunday mornings) area would one day, somehow, be transformed from a giant mud puddle to a rugby pitch. Legal matters dragged on and on, as they do, and for a long time it looked as if the dream would remain so for a very long time. Book sales, sponsored bike rides, bottle draws, the money had to be raised somehow.
Then in early June 1988 at the AGM, the Chairman announces: The First Team has won the League, undefeated (cheers and more cheers) The deal is done, the documents are signed, work commences in a fortnight (deadly hush) This is the quickest AGM on record Everyone just wanted to talk about what, how, when, the enthusiasm was infectious . . . Later that summer, the builders presented the club with an empty shell. Members and non-members plumbed, wired, plastered, drank the free beer and got plastered, hammered, sawed and painted. On 1st September, the Thursday before the first game of the season it suddenly occurred to us that maybe we should put the rugby posts up ! Unfortunately the steel tubing still had to be welded, painted and erected. Have you ever tried to put eight 44 foot posts into holes in the ground working, with the only illumination being from car headlights ?
Saturday, 3rd September 1988, a final mow of the lines and the white lines are painted. A victory for the 1st XV playing against GM Fire Service. Sunday 9th October 1988, the Official opening The 1st XV beats the Presidents Invitation XV (made up of captains of opposition teams) and Mike Slemen (Liverpool and England) declares the Club open for business. It all seemed worthwhile now and this was just the beginning. 1989, Major drainage works had to be undertaken as the pitches reverted to mud. 1995, The Clubhouse is extended by another 80% Existing Club room is doubled in size Two double changing rooms are added Extra showers and storage areas added.
10 Years on...
Junior Rugby - not all age groups yet, but we have six teams, over 100 Juniors and 6 boys have represented Lancashire
- We have a floodlit training area
- Third pitch added
- 4 teams most weekends
- 1 former player has played Premier Division rugby and represented England
- Website opened for business November 1999
- League Champions - season 1999/2000, North Lancs One
The Clubhouse is also used by other community groups:
- HQ of Bolton Sub Aqua Club
- HQ of Lancashire Wolverines American Football Team
- Weight Watchers
- 2 x Rounders Teams
- Local Schools
- Bolton Metro Leisure Services
Bolton Rugby Union Football Club The 21st Century...
- Ladies Rugby started January 2000
- Lottery Bid submitted November 2000 for Clubhouse extension, a players lounge, additional changing facilities and weights room
- Extra floodlights January 2001
- 2002 - 2 storey extension incorporating 2 self-contained changing room (with showers & WC), Refs room, Gym/Weights room, additional beer cellar storage, Members lounge, extended kitchen, access Lift
- 2003 - Club appoints full-time Rugby Development Officer (Sportsmatch)
- 2003 - 3rd team enters NW Intermediate Leagues
- 2004 - Womens Team enters League for first time
- 2004 - 2nd and 4th team enter NW Intermediate Leagues
- 2004/05 season - Junior section grows to 180
- 2005 - RFU Seal of Approval granted
- 2005 - Inaugural season of Bolton RUFC Emerging Schools Competition