Some More Memories – 51/52 & 52/53 Seasons

Old Lutonians RFC continued to develop, and fielded a fourth team for the first time in the 1951-52 season, although it played just just a handful of games. Paddy Adkins took over as club captain; Ron Mead continued as second team captain for the fourth successive year, as well as being club treasurer, a post that he had held since the club was formed in 1946.

The season again started well with five successive victories, until the club came up against Old Cantabrigians, in Cambridge.  They suffered their biggest defeat of the season against a club who appear to have rained on Old Lutonians’ parade on a number of occasions around this time. The 32-5 loss was played in the absence of Dudley Wood and George Thorpe who had been selected for Bedford that afternoon, whist Paddy Adkins and Maurice Marshall both went off with shoulder injuries. In these days before replacements were allowed, this meant that the side played with just thirteen men.

It was another successful season, and the first team won twenty-five games out of thirty-one that season, scoring 445 points against 152. George Sharpe scored twenty-seven tries, the highest total in the club’s history, whilst the highest points-scorer was Dick Packwood with 92 points. Pat Heanue, who was playing regularly for Bedford in the second half of the season, still managed 76 points for Old Lutonians. Derek Johnston played in all thirty-one games, whilst Bill Shepherd and Bob Young missed one game each. The ‘A’ XV had its most successful season to date winning twenty-five, drawing one and losing just twice; they scored 532 points and conceded a mere 80.

The following season (1952-53), only ten games were lost by the first three sides all season, two by the 1st team, four by the Extra 1st and 4 by the ‘A’. Bert Fensome returned as club captain, and the 1st XV were undefeated until March 14th when they lost 3-6 at Bedford Athletic. Unaffected by this set-back, the team won the next six games, until, in aid of the Mayor of Luton’s Flood Relief Fund, they played the full St Mary’s Hospital side at the end of April, losing 5-8, but more than did ourselves justice”. This match, played at Stockwood Park and watched by a crowd of 1500, was regarded as the highlight of the season, as St Mary’s were outstanding opposition, having just won the London Hospitals Cup for the third year in succession; £78 was raised for the fund. It was perhaps unfortunate for OLs that Dudley Wood, Lou Lyons and Pat Heanue were unavailable. The President of Old Lutonians commented that the Rugger Section “have put Luton on the map, so far as rugby football is concerned”. Dudley Wood had become the first Old Lutonian to be awarded a Rugger ‘Blue’ when he played for Oxford against Cambridge at Twickenham on 9th December 1952.

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