Sat 13 Jul 2019 20:32

In 1953, new rugby clubs were being formed throughout the British Isles at a great rate. The war was eight years behind us and thousands of ex servicemen, who had learned rugby in the armed forces, were looking for opportunities to play. There were not enough clubs.

Frank Eccles came to Coneysthorpe in January 1953 from Wakefield. He was thirty years old and past his best, but still keen on the game. There were clubs in York, but he had played rugby league and there were plenty of 'Purists' to examine the credentials of new players in the established clubs. At this time, severe penalties would be imposed upon any club which played ex league men and Yorkshire was no exception. No one would query a player in a new club. He decided to start one and ordered posters from Mr Knaggs, a local printer.

There will be a meeting in the Dining Room of THE GREEN MAN

At 8 pm on Wednesday March 3rd, 1953 to discuss the possibilities of forming a local rugby club 'Rugger', the name of the game in certain public schools, was used on the posters to make it clear that this was nothing to do with Rugby League. The posters caused a stir in Malton, but no one knew who was calling the meeting until Rob Barty caught up with Frank Eccles whilst he was placing posters in those shops he had missed on the first time round. A friendship developed which lasted until Rob's death in 1995.

Rob knew most of the likely people in Norton and Malton. They approached several prominent local people, including George Howard of Castle Howard, the vicar of Malton, the Rev. Stanley Hutton and Gordon Troop (England cap.) who was very useful because of his contacts in Yorkshire rugby.
Fifty people attended the first meeting, including Alan Dawson from Yorkshire RU Committee, Earl Walls, an ex Yorkshire President, and Frank Trenham and Eddie Simpson, ex Yorkshire players. Andrew Taylor, a Malton grocer who had played for Scarborough, chaired the meeting. They quickly decided to form a club, but it took a long time for them to agree to a name: Norton and Malton, or Malton and Norton? Eventually, alphabetical order overcame the Norton opposition.

George Howard of Castle Howard, promised to instruct Harold Clark, his clerk of works, to provide wooden rugby posts. Harold played for the club until his departure to London, where he became clerk of works at Twickenham, a post he held until his retirement. George Nelson, a Coneysthorpe farmer, offered a field with changing accommodation in a cow byre. The Green Man was to be the official meeting venue, since the proprietors, Mr and Mrs Tate-Smith, had been most helpful throughout and they were happy that we should use their address, if necessary.

The first committee elected was President, Major G A G Howard, Vice President, Mr G Troop, Mr G W Nelson, Mr H Kirby, Mr R Barty, the Rev S P Hutton, Mr A G Taylor, Mr F Eccles, Mr E Postill, Treasurer and Mr G Franklin, Secretary. A collection was taken at the meeting and a total of seven pounds and seventeen shillings was handed to the Treasurer. The first game followed a month later at Bridlington on 4th April 1953, Malton losing 18-0.

The first home game at Coneysthorpe on 11th September 1953 was against Old Hymerians, Malton lost again. Malton and Norton Rugby Club was now truly up and running. The landlord of the Balaclava, a Norton Inn (now sadly closed) let the players train on the field behind the pub and provided excellent after match refreshments.
On 28th November 1953 the club played its first game in town when Mr Sid Linsley, landlord of the Blue Ball, allowed the use of a field which is now part of Malton School playing fields. The club's allegiance changed from the Balaclava to the Blue Ball, where Mr Sid Linsley, followed by his son bill were landlords.