The Good Old Days -Recently Published Luton News Articles

On Saturday September 28th 1946 fifteen Old Lutonians under the captaincy of T.W. Bill Shepherd ran onto Luton Grammar School’s rugby pitch at Bradgers Hill Road; it was a pitch with which they were all familiar, having played there as schoolboys before the war. They were about to play against Bedford Athletic, and so it was that Old Lutonians RFC was born. The fledgling club lost its first game by 25-0; scoring was slightly different in 1946 than today, with four points for a drop-goal and just three points for a try. Members of that first ever side, Bill Shepherd, who also acted as the club’s Honourable Secretary, Ken Jephson, Garth Knapp (the only member of the side still alive), and Ron Mead, who was also the club treasurer. The touch judge was Harold Turvey. Within the rugby column of the Luton News on 3rd October 1946 Old Lutonians’ first ever match was reported under the strap-line, ‘Old Lutonians Drew A Blank’. It received third billing, after reports on Queen’s Bedford Northern 8 Luton Welsh 35, and Luton Grammar School 40 Cedars School 0.

The home games in the first season were played at the Luton Grammar School, and it was not until the next season that the club started playing at its present ground at Stockwood Park, by permission of the then Luton Corporation. Initially, there was a continual struggle to get enough shirts of the same colour so that Old Lutonians could look like a team; the club nominally played in shirts of red and yellow hoops, and black shorts. The first kit store in 1946 was an underground air-raid shelter over which the pitch was situated.

On 17th October, the Luton News reported most of the matches played by Old Lutonians during that season, including when they beat Queen’s Works ‘A’ away by 28-0; “Old Lutonians had only thirteen men when they visited Bedford, but the home side loaned them a player who did so well that he scored two tries.”

After home matches, the players retired to the Panama public house, which was eventually demolished in 1972 to make way for the Arndale Centre.

The Old Lutonian newsletter reported, “It can be considered that the (Rugby) Section has had a fairly successful season, more especially when it is realised that this was the first season of the Old Lutonians’ Rugby Football Club. Difficulty was experienced in finding sufficient playing members but we managed to fulfil our fixture commitments, which were naturally very much curtailed by the bad weather during the first three months of the year. Out of the fourteen games played, eight were won and six lost.” The new club scored 161 points and conceded 89. With victories having been achieved against all of the other three clubs in the town, these were firm foundations upon which to build what was to become one of the strongest clubs in the East Midlands.

Start a Conversation