Over £100k to be invested into the pitches at St Mark’s, the home of TWRFC

As some of you will remember when I became Chairman I said we would review our investment priorities and create a route to delivering them. At the time our priorities were:

  • Improving our Clubroom in the Clubhouse
  • Improve our parking at St Mark’s
  • Improve the availability of our pitches.

We quickly reached a conclusion that with St Mark’s as our long term home our most pressing priority should be having pitches to play rugby on! So investment in pitch availability became our priority, closely followed by improved parking and then the Clubhouse.

We continue to progress our thoughts on the Alternative Grass Pitch which would sit alongside pitch 1 and I hope to update you further on that soon. Today I wish to make you aware of a significant investment into pitches 2 and 3. We are optimistic that this investment will give significantly enhanced availability of these pitches and keep St Mark’s open for rugby for a considerably longer period. We are taking our drainage back to basics with:

  • Brand new main carrier drains from the east end of pitches 2 and 3 to the small pond beside Frant road.
  • Brand new primary drainage channels (that feed into the main carrier drains) running length ways down pitches 2 and 3. These are perforated plastic drains that are connected together and run between 3 and 5 meters apart. The channels above them are filled with gravel and root-zone sand.
  • Brand new secondary drainage sand and gravel slits running across the pitches to feed the primary drainage channels.

The work is due to start at the beginning of May and the pitches will be out of action for several months to allow the grounds to recover and re-seed. Our friends at Borderers Cricket have kindly agreed to use the ‘Kent wicket’ this year while the work is completed.

This will mean that during the extended rugby season in May and the start of the cricket season (in May) the remainder of St Marks will be a little congested and we thank you for your understanding as we juggle training/fixtures to fit everyone in. It’s likely that we will have to adjust training times, and potentially move the occasional session to Saturday to accommodate.

Like all projects of this size they involve many hands and the financial support of many. In terms of the grounds strategy and engaging with contractors Roger Clarke has done a tremendous amount of work and diligence. In terms of paying for it there are many to thank: firstly the club has been saving away and sinking monies to prepare for this moment; secondly Tunbridge Wells Borough Council have offered to support; lastly the RFU and Sport England have supported us throught their ‘Winter survival fund’.

We thank you all for your support of our club and sport in Tunbridge Wells.

Come on you Wells

Mike
#oneTWRFC

HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

TWRFC join the country in mourning the loss of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A tireless member of the Royal Family but also a loving Husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather.

Best known to many as the founder of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, a scheme that has helped millions grow and develop skills over the years including many of our own members.

Rest in Peace

Former player makes his first start in the level 2 Championship

By the 2018-19 season, Tunbridge Wells were firmly established at Level Five in the competition pyramid and this started to attract players from other local clubs who wanted to test themselves at this high standard of rugby.

One such player was Jake Caddy who had spent his formative years at Beckenham RFC and had already been an England Students 7s player before arriving at St Marks. Jake performed consistently well for us during that season, with the highlight being his receiving the Player of the Tournament award as the Wells defended their Whiting & Hammond Elite Sevens title in April 2019.

Jake has now moved to pastures new and is part of Richmond RFC’s Championship squad (where another former Wells player and coach Dom Palacio is part of the coaching team), and made his first start at that level in a home game against Cornish Pirates earlier this month.

Well done Jake

March 100 Club draw result

The winner of the big March draw winning £1,000 was no. 16 Robin Apps.
As Robin had also won in the February draw he has generously donated part of his prize back to the Club for which we applaud and thank him.

We have been pleased to have several new members join to support the club and we still have space for a few more. Please contact Alan Skinner at skinners205@btinternet.com for more details.

My rugby memories – Mike Stickler

I started playing rugby at school mainly at wing-forward (that’s “flanker” to the modern player…..).

At Exeter University, I continued playing, now at fly-half and centre and this was quite a step up from school rugby. We played all the top teams in Devon and Cornwall including Penzance-Newlyn (Cornish Pirates) who were a top national side at the time. I still remember having to enter the ground through turnstiles and playing in front of a paying crowd for the first and only time.

Following University I entered Accountancy and before my second year exams I enrolled for a 2 week refresher course at Maidstone College. At lunchtime most of the other students took out their packed lunch whilst I set off to find the nearest pub which happened to be the Admiral Gordon. As I pushed open one of its spring doors, another chap was in the process of entering with me.

He was on the same course as me and his name was Geoff Hoad. At that time he was Treasurer of what was then Old Skinners RFC and he introduced me to the Club and I resumed playing again, mainly at centre, for another 12 years or so.

Playing back then was markedly different from today in some respects. Most matches were played relatively locally, often with our 4/5 sides playing the same club opposition teams home & away. There was a short break at half-time, you remained on the pitch, and if you were lucky you received a slice of orange. In the club house you were usually sustained (food wise) with a cheese roll.

More drinking (certainly at the clubhouse) took place after the match. Drinking and driving was not as tight as it is these days. After 2 or 3 pints or so quite often the singing would start and certain players were noted for their repertoire of particular songs: Geoff Hoad – The Keyhole in the Door; Happy Howard – The Lobster Song; Phil Jones – The Sloop John B; Rudi Birkby – The Barley Mow and I believe I introduced – I Want Some Beer…….from my time in the west country.

After away matches, we would often meet up at pubs on the return journey to Tunbridge Wells and on one particular occasion we were drinking in The Nevill Crest & Gun. It was a cold evening when a certain club member added rather too much wood to their large inglenook fire……we all managed to leave just before the fire engines arrived!

Collecting (or “liberating” in the modern vernacular) various signs after away matches was quite a regular pastime and in the old Clubhouse, before it burnt down, we had a very impressive collection. I remember Mick White always being very handy with a screwdriver…..and a rather smart pub sign returned from a well known Greenwich pub in the boot of my car on one occasion.

The club legend for many years was Fred Delves. Where does one start – whatever I said about him would not do him justice. Apart from holding various senior positions within the club he was always larger than life. The clubhouse was his second home and if it needed repair, decorating or cleaning there was Fred. He would always insist on buying the first round and did not stop there. It was always a pleasure to play with Fred on the pitch and socialise with him after.

Tours were an annual feature much, more than they are now and I was responsible for arranging one to Apeldoorn (Holland). I believe we may well have played their National Team (well almost) and won in spite of Roger Clarke’s (affectionately known as Woggy in those days) attempt at an “up and under” which had us all retreating at least 35 yards (as they were in those days).  Just as well Roger is not still playing today…….

The highlight of the tour was meant to be a night in Amsterdam but en route our coach broke down in some village. Quite a few of us ended up at a local wedding reception party and I seem to remember they did not make us as welcome as they could have done! I do recollect in one particularly crowded pub, that we were all rather squashed in and nobody paid the slightest attention to Steve Hoar (dear late Steve) who for some reason was happily drinking away completely starkers.

I have enclosed a photo taken on that tour. I’m in the middle, Roger is on my right (the one with the fair hair in case you did not immediately recognise him) and to my left is Richard Harman. Richard, in his own words, is probably the most talented fly-half to ever play for the club (if perhaps a touch greedy sometimes). I remember once after several sidesteps (possibly one or two too many) rather than passing to me he was brought down just short of the line. I then had to wrestle the ball off him in order to touch it down.

What I am sure hasn’t changed is the camaraderie engendered as a result of playing the game of rugby. Football, for example, was not the same. I still have lifelong friends from my rugby playing days, many going back over 50 years. Contacts through rugby and other sports can play a significant role in furthering ones career and I became partner in a small software company for 20 odd years through Geoff Gates who must now be one of the oldest surviving members on our Life Vice Presidents board.

Also in those days, perhaps it is similar today, there was always a local pub that you could pop into on your own in the evening and there would always be someone from the club there. For many years it was the Kelsey Arms                  (opposite Skinners) along St Johns Road – which is now a Tesco Local….

Make the most of playing the game of rugby while you can. Ones playing days are soon over and although I enjoy watching now, it is never quite the same.

Mike Stickler 

Playing Years 1969 to 1980 (approx)

I hope you enjoy reading Mike’s colourful tale of days of old….and I also hope it encourages you to take up the pen (or at least open up the lap top) and share your own experiences of our great game. I would be very grateful to receive them at gwithers10@btinternet.com

February 100 Club draw results and a plea for new members…..

The result of the February draw was:-


1st prize no 16 Robin Apps £250.
2nd prize no 74 Rebecca Clarke £100.
3rd prize no31 Fran Colangelo £50.

The next draw in March is one of the 2 big ones per year with a prize of £1,000, and anyone joining the Club by setting up the £10 per month standing order by 15 March will be entered into this draw.

Sadly, during COVID we have had a steady number of people leaving the Club and not being replaced so if you can spare £10 a month to support TWRFC (and immediately be in with an opportunity to win £1000) please contact Alan Skinner at skinners205@btinternet.com

100 Club – January Draw

The results from the January draw are:-

1st Prize – £250 No 21 John Pilcher

2nd Prize – £100 No 73 Rob Harrison

3rd Prize – £50 No 54 Pete Gould

Alan is still looking for new members to help support the club’s finances and can be contacted at :-

skinners205@btinternet.com

TEK Group Hits Major Milestone

2021 sees 1XV sponsor TEK Group hit a major milestone of 50 years in operation. Known to many of our members for their ergonomic office chair brand Sit Smart. Through their TEK Seating and TEK military brands they also offer solutions for commercial, bus and coach, construction, agriculture, material handling, military, rail, minibus and marine markets.

TEK Group remains a local, family run business but has grown to become the UK’s largest independent vehicle seat distributor for the OEM and aftermarket.

 “TEK Group is really proud to hit this significant milestone” said Paul Fleming, CEO TEK Group. “ It’s down to the hard work and loyalty of past and present team members. Being part of the community we work in is very important to all of us at TEK Group and our involvement with TWRFC is just part of our commitment to community engagement.”

“TEK Group have been a 1XV sponsor for over fiveyears” said Simon Hughes, Head of TWRFC Commercial “Paul and the team at TEK have been fantastic advocates of the club and continued to support us through these challenging times. We are delighted to see them hit their 50 year anniversary and we wish them all the best for the next 50.”

For more information on TEK Groups products and services:

t: 01892 515028,

e: sales@tekseating.co.uk

https://www.tekseating.co.uk/

Tim McCabe – a rugby history in words and images

“My Dad said, “you’d better come outside and I’ll throw you a rugby ball in the garden as you’ll be playing rugby at your new school”.

Up until that time I was just a footballer.

I joined The Skinners’ School in September 1981, and played my first training game at their Southfields pitches.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to do, but a bit like ‘Forest Gump’ (with a quarter of the pace), I found myself with the ball.

I ran forward knocking over everything and anyone in my way. I placed the ball down and scored a try. Ian Bradbury, my Welsh form teacher and rugby enthusiast said, “you are a Hooker”.

And the following week, Mr Bradbury made me Captain.

I captained the team for the next 5 years. With my rugby prowess infinitely better than my academic record, I left.

At 16 I played my first Adult game for Westerham RFC (now sadly no longer).

Placed in the front row, against Dover. I was sandwiched between two policemen. They looked after me on the pitch and afterwards in the bar.

I then went onto join TWRFC playing colts, for a brief season. I also played U16s for Kent. However a house move to live back at my parents meant that I joined Eastbourne RFC Colts and Seniors where I also played Sussex U18 and U20s.

I started work in London in January 1990, and I then had multiple options to play. I represented various companies at Advertising 7s rugby. I also trained in the off-season at Clapham Common playing rugby netball.

From ’92 I went on to represent and Captain the EAARFC (English Advertising Agencies) and the Media Nomads. The latter a hard, socialising and touring Sunday side. We holidayed (!) in most of Europe and the USA.

I played for the Stray Dogs RFC, mainly against tough Welsh opposition and had a cheeky run out for Basildon RFC to play with my brother in law.

My ‘club’ rugby across this period was spent for 11 seasons flitting between OMT’s (Old Merchant Taylors) RFC and Old Wimbledonians. Due to work commitments I could only make sporadic training sessions in the evening, so I found myself nicely nestled in 2nd XV team Rugby.

In 2001, I moved with my family to Tunbridge Wells. I re-joined TWRFC. I played mostly with the 2nd XV and had one trip to Portsmouth for my first and only 1st XV cap. From 2005 I was eligible for Vets XV (35 years of age). And that year toured with the club to Denia in Spain – the Easter Chicken Tour (don’t ask!).

It was about this time that I got embroiled in the Mini and Youth sections of TWRFC, as my eldest Max, turned 6.

It was aso at this point that I started to get heavily involved with non-playing aspects of the club: coaching; Chairing; reffing; kitchen cooking; comparing; auctioning; BBQ’ing; tournaments, club house development and Kiwi camps.

I coached both my boy’s age groups, finally getting to play rugby with them last Boxing Day (2019). And we would have had a fantastic re-union with both age groups who are now all eligible to play senior rugby – I guess that will have to be next season now.

I retired from regular Saturday matches in 2012. The body couldn’t take the weekly punishment and the knees weren’t enjoying scrum time. However what I found was I couldn’t keep away from the sport or the club. I continued to have the odd run-out every year from then onwards.

I still play with a club side from Scotland- Waid FP Rugby Club’s Buccaneers. I have represented them on Tour, also playing alongside some of them for the Scottish Members of Parliament RFC – playing against ‘The House of Commons and Lords RFC’. Again drafting in some TWRFC club members and my Max.

My weekends in a normal season; consist of me on a Saturday morning reffing at Skinners’ (this I will continue now my boys have left the school), then going to the club to watch the 1st XV. On a Sundays I currently drop off Martha who helps run the Café (since she was 8) and I then either reff or help coach the U11’s.

The best thing about rugby is meeting your friends and joining them for a beer. Hopefully we can do that soon, and maybe, if you are very lucky, I can talk you through the try that I scored at ‘The Rec’ playing with my best TWRFC club mate Fran Colangelo!

Floreat Sodalitas – let fellowship flourish!”

I am looking for more contributions please – contact me at gwithers10@btinternet.com

Mad Bob’s Memorial match, Mr Chairman’s “retirement” game and Father Ed’s 40th Birthday Celebration!
The Kiwi Camp – started by enigmatic Martin Stanley – ex Auckland player and amazing man.
EAARFC President Tim Mott and Jean Pierre Ardour (JPA) – bookends R to L.
Dan and Matty Ingman v Max & Tim McCabe on Boxing Day. The children are the future
Fran and Sedgie joining me in Bath (yes, that try…!) playing at the Rec. It’s not pink it’s cerise….!
My last 2nd XV match v TJs in 2019. I think we drew away! I’d had a couple of lagers on the train home when Mav asked me if I’d step up!!
The SPA’nish Ball – held at The Spa (remember going out drinking and dancing!!); Dave West and Jim Scully, two fine coaches and gentlemen.
Got to play with both my boys, Max and Laurie. Stuff of dreams.
Social space – clubhouse clear up – many hands make light work!
Front row (Re)union – Dave Allan (OMTs)and Mick (TWRFC)
A run out with Skinners’ Boxing Day 2019. Coached by Jerv the swerve! Followed by £120 worth of physio.
Sedgie joining me for a run out with OMT’s Vets v Reading Rhinos.
Mav, Stefan (President Becs Old Boys and former EAARFC player) on Boxing Day. Attending 2 minutes applause for JPA’s funeral
Captain Zak and Max’s first TWRFC match
On tour in Pau with Waid Buccaneers
The EAARFC Barbarians. A mixture of mates from the advertising industry, Media Nomads and Bideford in Devon. Playing North Paris – CSM Gennevilliers Rugby
Waid Buccaneers on tour CA Pontacq
Wags and Fran
“Pop-up” shop at Tunbridge Wells Clock Tower May 2016
At HQ
The Mif$hit$
Hello Sailor
They are all superheroes to me
Christmas jumpers
Good grief……
Comperes for the SPAnish Ball…..
Bruno & Olivier from Pontacq….Wonderful hosts
The Kiwis sneak behind the bar…..
Milo getting “Douched”….captions please!?
Phil “Pot of Gold” Nelson
Half time C
chicken removal
Bobby G’s White & Blue Army…..then secret party back at his with no invite for Fat Pants AGAIN!
Serious business in teh days when we could hug and drink……
“Gok on a stick”, top tourist. “Get your Gok out for the lads” and “We want Gok” just two of the chants that can be heard reverberating around the ground.
Reffing Laurie at Skinners
Cooking up a large snarler fest with Drew
Pre-season (remember that?)
Recounting my favourite Debby McGee joke….
Stack-a-Drew
“Are you COVID ready?”
Tour trophy- “liberated” not stolen of course.
Paul Enville – marathon supremo and First Aid Sunday life-saver
Martha McCabe….”Future Ms Chairwoman”
Club Dinner at the High Rocks
Was a good three minutes….then Sinckler left the field!
Mighty TWRFC Veterans at Ashford…..(Editor: when someone called Tim ran over the dead ball line when he should have been scoring a try #justsaying)
A valiant TWRFC 6 join Parliament Hall RFC to play against The House of Lords and Commons RFC at Richmond before the Calcutta Cup. Or ‘hands up if you look like wee Jimmy Krankie with high crutch shorts’