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A brief history of Bedford Athletic RUFC

The Club was founded in 1909 and has used many grounds in the town. The first was in Kimbolton Road opposite the Park Hotel. The second in Bedford Park By the lake, the third behind the Fox & Hounds PH in Goldington Road, 'where a pond encroached on the pitch in which stood the corner flag'. Many other grounds were used but the move in 1924 to Newnham Lane, now known as Newnham Avenue, was a significant one for we stayed there, apart from the war years, until 1970.

The Club has always been prepared to work hard to provide its facilities, which we have then invited the public to share. In 1933, during the depression, the then Secretary, Captain E.H.G.Chambers raised funds and under his guidance, some unemployed, mainly ex-servicemen levelled the whole of the area which now contains municipal playing fields and Athletics Stadium.

It was because of these efforts that Bedford Corporation gave us priority over the use of these grounds. During the war the changing room at the north-east corner of the field suffered badly and, until Murketts garage (now Lex) was built, a redundant fire service hut at the corner of Barkers Lane became the HQ. We then moved the hut to where the fire station now stands.

The Council took pity on us when the County Fire Service took over the site and we were offered the lease on the land that we now occupy. This is green belt land adjacent to the town boundary. Our nearest neighbours lived in a pair of cottages opposite where the Bluebell pub now stands. Undeterred by the fact that it was over a half a mile down a track with no services, we set to and levelled, drained and seeded the pitches ourselves and like our 1930's members overcame all obstacles and eventually built the clubhouse you see today.

The lease on Wentworth Drive has been renewed for a further period.

We are proud of the fact that we have never yet had to ask for ratepayers money to provide facilities that the Town can be proud of and that we offer other organisations when asked. The facilities are frequently used by local societies, have been used as a play school, by Bedfordshire Schools, dog shows, archery, Ladies Rugby and most Sundays during the season, hundreds of boys use the ground for Mini Rugby.

During the summer we enter a side in the Beds & District cricket league, which in recent years have been rather sucessful. In addition the Ath also run two mixed hockey sides, whom themselves have not been short on sucess.

After the extremely sucessful 1997/98 season when the 1st XV went undefeated the 'Ath' now compete National League level. This is the highest level the club has ever achieved. In all, the club regularly puts out five adult teams on a Saturday, in addition to a successful colts (under 19) side.

The Ath, like other rugby clubs continue to write their history season by season.

Having been relegated due to the "cascade" effect - which is the effect of no changes to the premiership league, there had to be a way of retaining continuity of promotion which led to 4 teams being demoted from National Leagues. Thus the Ath found themselves back in Midlands 1 for the 2003/04 season.

This proved to be "not a bad thing" as the Ath were able to secure a loan from the RFU to enable them to go ahead with the plans to extend and refurbish the clubhouse. They hope to start this during the 'closed' season and complete early into 2004/05 season.

In addition to this the Ath did the "unthinkable" of bouncing straight back into National League rugby having won the Midlands One division 2003/04.



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