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RUGBY CHRISTMAS PAST

A lament for a lost social experience; and financial opportunity too

Christmas...."That was the festive season that was!" And, as players, supporters, and especially treasurers of our local rugby clubs often moan today, especially during the Christmas period, "Things are not like they used to be,". They can certainly say that again!

Members and former players of our two original foundation clubs at Liverpool FC and St.Helens RUFC will no doubt look back with fond memories of games played and will recall the activity surrounding them. Especially at Moss Lane! The annual games against Broughton Park on Boxing Day and versus Fylde on New Years Day, regardless of any intervening matches on the Saurday, were welcomed by large crowds and a terrific Christmas atmosphere in the clubhouse after the final whistle. The Bar takings were at their highest for the season and older, retired players, often from far and abroad, ventured down to the club to renew old acquaintances.

Tales were told of escapades in Manchester or Blackpool following the matches, details of who was or who wasn't kicked out of a night club at 3.00am in the morning, while little concern was shown for anyone who missed the coach on its return home. Indeed the unlucky traveller was often the centre of attraction when, at the next training night, he would reveal all of the circumstances which detained him (true or false!). Yes, in the days when there were no league tables to occupy the minds of all with threats of relegation or hopes of promotion and the players were genuine amateurs, it was the "day out", the camaraderie of the players, committee, and members, and the sheer enjoyment of playing rugby which occupied everyone's minds. Yes, those were the days!

What now? Well, most rugby clubs will, as here at Moss Lane, no doubt be organising the Xmas Parties for their mini and junior players, and their mums and dads. And? Very little! Over the three week Christmas period Liverpool St.Helens, and most clubs in our league and locality, play not a single match on Boxing Day, New Year's Day, or on any intervening Saturday. A period of almost three weeks without a single match to welcome members, supporters, and guests to a game at a time when most rugby addicts are looking for somewhere to enjoy themselves in similar company and help enhance the Bar takings of their club.

Enough said! A Merry Christmas to all wherever or whenever you can find a match at which, and a club in which, you can enjoy yourself over the festive period.


Ray French, December 2017