Napier Rugby Union Football Club
Early records are sparse about the Napier Rugby Union Football Team however we believe that it was formed when, around 1924, the Company bought the Gunnesbury Drive Sports Ground partly in celebration of a Napier Lion powered win in the Schneider Trophy. As per the illustration the team was playing by the 1927-28 season; the team’s colours were green with white hoops.
Thanks go to this Trust’s president Alan Vessey for gleaning the following information from the records of the Acton Gazette:
15th April 1927 – The First Team 15 played 22 matches, won 13, lost 7 and drew 2. In the course of these games they scored 225 points and their opponents only 102. This was the first season for the ‘A’ Team but, out of 17 matches, they managed to win 6, lose 8 and draw 3 scoring 83 points to 121 scored by their opponents.
18th March 1938 – The Acton Gazette reported that one of the best sides in the league held its 16th Annual DInner at he Kings Head Hotel, Acton. Mr A.J. Dale toasted the Club and expressed pleasure that the Club Chaiman and Works Manager, Mr H. Baume had made such an excellent recovery from his illness. Mr Baume thanked him saying that he was pleased once more to be in the Chair, a position he had occupied since the foundation of the Club. He also stated that the present team was the cleanest and neatest ever turned out by the Club, much of which was due to the Captain Mr W. Jenkins who, despite being 40, was playing as well as ever with the exception of when he played for Glamorganshire. When toasting ‘The Visitors’ Mr J.B. Heath, a member of the Society of London Referees, replied commenting the he could ‘safely say that Napiers were one of the best sides in West London’.
24th October 1958 – The team played the Brigands gaining a convincing victory, consisting of M. Nixon, T. Bradley, T. Lamb, A (Bomber) Harris, G. Masters, A. Dellar, J. Somerville, A. Rickard, J. Soper, M. Betteridge (Captain), P. Norman, P. Gregory, R. Evans, A. Crook (Vice Captain), G. Jones, J. Woods & M. Jones.
Matches were also played between the apprentices of the Acton and Luton Works. It is not known when the started however, if the 1959 matches are anything to go by they were enjoyable events with much beer imbibed as was the custom!
The final season was in 1963 when the Gunnersbury Ground was sold to Acton Council. The final dinner was held at the Park Royal Hotel and attended by 110 in the wood panelled upstairs function room. The guest of honour was the Chief Superintendant of Scotland Yard who commented that if he had known the type of occasion it would be he would have taken out shares in Tate & Lyle – due to the amount of lump sugar whizzing around the room!! Also on the tables were crisp bread rolls & butter pats which do give the wood panelling and nice shine, not the sort of thing to put on tables at a Rugby Dinner. A number of the guests were from the Napier Luton Rugby Club who stated that it was one of the best dinners they had attended and were sad to see the demise of such a successful club after so many years. The Club bought two rounds of beers which apparently put huge pressure on the one barman attached to the function room who had to ask the main bar downstairs for support – the Hotel was very short of beer by the end of the evening. After dinner the Guest of Honour retired to the grand piano where a sing-song ensued until the Hotel insisted everyone leave thus ending a long illustrious part of D. Napier & Son sporting history.
If you have any further recollections and / or photos of the Napier RUFC then we would like to hear from you. Please contact us.