Guisborough RUFC was founded in 1969 by a group led by Henry Bell. They acquired a 20 year lease for the current ground and inherited a wooden hut used by the football club that had previously been the Belmangate ground home. As the club gathered a foothold in the community, the members decided that the facilities needed an upgrade. Harry Peacock took a lead with this and not only made upgrades to the changing rooms but also incorporated their own drinking facilities. The club grew quickly, and by the early 1980's was regularly running 4 senior sides and a successful colts team under the guise of Dennis Ramsey. This led to the Mini and Junior section being set up in 1990 and has continued to grow and flourish to the successful set up seen today. The club house we use today was opened on 1st October 1989, and has many fond memories for both its members and the wider Guisborough community old and young.
As with many small businesses and voluntary groups both locally and nationally the financial impact of Covid-19 has been the most difficult part of this pandemic. The national lockdown meant that Guisborough RUFC not only missed out on the opportunity of promotion but also missed out on the last 2 home games of last season, including our Family Fun Day held at the last home game of each season. With restrictions still not lifted and competitive rugby not looking likely until the new year the club will have missed out on around 10 home games, where takings increase to around £2000 on a Saturday.
The national lockdown also saw events such as the Player's Dinner, Summer Ball and Country & Western Weekend canceled as well as what would have been our first ever Summer Festival alongside Leo's Neonatal Charity. This event would have seen an It's a Knockout event held for both adults and children alongside local business stalls, service vehicles, children's entertainment, food vans, live music and more attract a footfall of over 8000 people to the club site. This would have seen a huge rise in the publicity of both our Rugby Club and local businesses, as well as a substantial financial boost in what is normally a quiet time for the club.
Although there has been some financial support from the Government Covid-19 has seen a substantial reduction in the clubs financial position with losses estimated at around £18,000. Thankfully due to the support of our members, sponsors and the community the club is still able to open its doors at the moment, but is doing all it can to cut back on expenses to ensure we come out the other side of the pandemic still able to provide for everyone who uses our facilities.
Many local businesses help support the events we provide to our community and members, and the club look to return the favour whether this is by providing advertising on all posters/promotions/social media platforms, or by offering them first refusal for free places at community events such as the family fun day and Summer Festivals. However due to the Covid-19 pandemic the majority of these events have not been able to take place, meaning we have bee unable to provide the financial support to business such as The Dudley Arms who provide all catering for the players dinner and summer ball, or the advertising benefits for those who provide flowers for volunteers, or gifts for key members or donations for raffle prizes such as Flower Maiden, Tocketts Mill, J's Gents Hairdressing, The Arches, Fritto & Misto etc. These businesses are also feeling the effect from Covid-19 and we are working hard to ensure we can provide our full support again once restrictions are lifted.
Our social groups such as Line Dancing/Country Western group, Dog Training and Folk Club have also been effected by the lockdown. Many of these groups provide a key social activity for some of our older members who have felt the full force of the pandemic restrictions. The club has worked with the organisers of all of these events to ensure that the bookings will be held and honoured for as long as required before we welcome them back to the club.
Although the club has only been around for 50 years, it holds a big place in the hearts of many who have played for the club, and those who have been involved since day one. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the club, and we are not ready to go down without a fight.
Those who have been back in the club since the end of lock down will have seen the extraordinary work that has been carried out during this downtime to improve our function room and members lounge facilities, as well as touching up our dating changing rooms. The club has carried out this work to ensure it provides the best facilities possible to local businesses, the wider community, and its loyal members.
However with the new restrictions being put in place, limiting the numbers that can enter our club house and the winter weather drawing in and restricting the use of our outdoor space, we need your support now to ensure the club can remain open to offer this support once the pandemic is under control.
We would really appreciate any support you could offer us, and hope the information provided below will show how our club fulfils its role within the community, but also provides the facilities for people of all ages to remain active, and learn the core values of rugby that will help the in their future as well as ours.
Our Role within the Community
Although Rugby will always be at the heart of the club, the committee and staff have worked hard over the past few years to also make it a venue that is open to the community for a wide range of uses.
We have regular bookings during the week for line dancers, dog training, folk club, fitness classes and baby groups, as well as offering the main bar out for a wide range of functions including business events, christenings, funerals, birthdays, weddings etc. If you can think of a use for our space, our Club Manager and her team will do what they can to accommodate your needs.
Rosie, reflecting on her time in charge over the last 12 months said, "We have our regulars who have had block bookings with the Club for years, and have always supported the club in anyway they can, but have also seen a big rise in people requesting the use of our facilities for a range of activities from business meetings and events to surprise parties and wedding celebrations. It is great to be a small part of those special occasions and my team and I will always do everything we can to offer help and support to make sure the events are not only memorable for those involved, but allow us to continue to uphold the great reputation the club has built in the local area."
Rosie would also like to say, "Thank you to everyone who has already supported the club through what are very difficult times for both individuals and businesses. We are looking forward to having a full club house once again, and hope people will continue to make use of our constantly improving facilities".
Charity & Community Support
The current senior players are aware of the role the club plays in the community, and are generally seen supporting the local hospitality business on Thursday and Saturday nights as well as making a special Christmas appearance in what has been dubbed "3rd team training".
However as the pandemic hit, Tony Conway wanted to show that he and his fellow teammates were also willing to help out the wider community and gathered enough money to provide buffets for lunches for all the key workers at Guisborough's various Care Homes.
Charity is a big part of the club culture that has developed over the years and no charity is closer to the heart of its members than MNDA.
Unfortunately the club lost a huge character to Motor Neurone Disease in 2013 and now has an annual Boxing Day event in his honour with a range of fundraising activities taking place for the charity.
It has also become tradition that fundraising activities take place on the same day as the 1st XV's last home fixture with all players showing their support in MNDA t-shirts.
To date, the club has raised over £8000 for MNDA and as the club's chosen charity, we will continue to look for new and inventive ways to support them until a cure is found for the terrible disease.
Currently the 1st XV play in Durham Northumberland 2 after narrowly missing out on promotion back to D&N 1 when the season was cut short due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. This added to the frustrations seen over the past couple of seasons after the high of winning Durham & Northumberland 1 in 2015 and being promoted to North One East and playing at the highest level in the club's history for 2 years.
However, senior rugby continues to grow within the club, highlighting its spirit, and we now have around 60 full playing members. The club regularly puts out 2 strong sides, with the 2nd XV finishing within the top 3 of the social league for the last 2 seasons.
Last year also saw the return of a 3rd XV/Vets team playing on a Friday night. This has seen the return of many old faces, taking the chance to pull on their boots once more and reminisce about how good they were in their heyday.
The success of the senior teams has helped to increase the number of junior players who continue to stay with the club. The strong 2nd XV now gives all players an ideal "breeding" ground to get used to the challenges of senior rugby and begin to enjoy the social side that comes with it. We hope this success and growth can continue in the coming years, and our coaches are working hard to get the club back playing at the level they believe their players are capable of.
Gareth Lodge and James Clark were keen to get their players back training as soon as lockdown was over and the return to rugby restrictions have meant they are putting their players through some gruelling sessions.
Gareth said, "It was great to see how keen the boys were to get back at it after a difficult finish to last season. They have all arrived with a great mentality and it has been nice to see a few new faces coming down to test themselves. Having also coached the colts last season, it is a great opportunity to plan for the future and integrate the younger players into the senior set up."
James, who is still contemplating a playing role when games get back up and running, added, "We all felt the pain with the early finish last year, but have come back hungry and ready to build on some amazing performances last year, and get back to the level we all feel we are capable of playing at."
Mini & Junior Rugby
Since establishing the Mini & Junior section in 1990 the club has seen a constant increase in its junior members and this year already has 250 mini and junior members. This is in spite of there being no clear date set for when grassroots rugby will be back up and running.
There are teams from Under 7's to Senior Colts, and the number of coaches continues to increase year on year which hopefully shows the future is bright for senior rugby at the club.
Ben Brown is the current Mini & Junior Chairman, and when asked about the current Mini & Junior set up said, "The club is a friendly, supportive environment for the children to develop their rugby skills, get active, have fun and forge friendships. The club adheres to the RFU core values, and we ensure that players, coaches, parents, spectators and volunteers keep them in mind at all times:
Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline, Sportsmanship. We follow the RFU Age Grade Rugby Programme for children's rugby which aims to gradually introduce core rugby skills in a way which maximises player safety and development."
Ben has been involved with this set up for a few years now and added, "Why not come and give it a try...The season runs from the first Sunday in September through to the end of April, and is a mixture of training sessions and matches, both home and away, against other teams from around the North East and North Yorkshire. There will be either a match or a training session on most Sundays (0930 until 1230). We field teams in every age group from Under 7's up to Under 18's, with all children given the opportunity to develop their skills and play in matches. We welcome all abilities, so whether your child has been playing for years, or has never played before, it’s never too late to get involved and start playing."
Although the Mini & Junior section is one of the newest in the area, it has had a fair share of success with many players playing at regional, county and national level. Some of our players have even gone on to play at the highest level within the sport notably:
Pierce Phillips who has had a good professional career playing for Jersey Reds (as club captain), Worcester and currently at Agen in the Top 14 in France. Josh Bainbridge has followed suit and is currently playing for Jersey Red having played England Age group rugby and had several successful years at Yorkshire Carnegie.
The most successful player who has been a product of this fledgling set up however is Will Muir, who helped the 1st XV reach North 1 East before a very successful few years at Northumbria University, where he caught the eye of England 7's selectors and is currently the only player ever to win England 7's player of the year in his debut season. Will has recently re-joined the 15 aside game signing for Bath early this year.