The Beginning of the Old Players Association in 1951
Stirred by the successful Old Players match on the Recreation Ground and the enthusiastic efforts of Jack Arnold, the Bath Football Club Old Players Association was formed on Friday 18th May 1951
The first meeting was presided over by the Chairman of the Bath Football Club, Jack Bevan-Jones.
The meeting was held in the Christopher Hotel
Subscriptions were set at 2s 6d per annum.
The first elected Hon.Secretary was Jack Arnold and the elected Hon.Treasurer was Peter Brown
A ballot for the Committee resulted in the election of Charles Mannings, Norman Matthews, Harry Vowles, Harry Richardson and Charlie Gough
Charles Mannings was elected the first Chairman of the Association
The President of the Bath Football Club in 1951 was Arnold Ridley, the famous actor who later played Private Godfrey in the television comedy series "Dad's Army" and wrote the famous play "The Ghost Train".
The first elected President of the Bath Old Players Association was Sir Isaac James Pitman, a former Bath player and England International, as well as being the MP for Bath
The BOPA would hold an Annual Dinner on the lines of that run by a similar association in Bristol, on the night of the Bath v Bristol match.
The intention was to meet two or three times a year for social evenings and if sufficient backing was assured, to organise cricket and skittles matches.
The Committee would draw up a simple set of rules, which would include the criteria for qualification for membership.
Mr Bevan-Jones said players at the end of their careers tended to drift away and as a result the Bath Club lost a lot of support. There was no liaison between the Club, the present playing members and the past players. This Association would fill what he called "a yawning gap".
The objectives of such an organisation would be to foster rugby, especially in the Bath Club, to give support to the Club management whenever it was felt necessary and to provide candidates for election to the Bath Club committee - fresh blood was always useful as it kept things moving.
Perhaps the BOPA would be able to give assistance to junior clubs
Among those present at the meeting was Austin Higgins, back on leave from Khartoum, where he is on the staff of the University. He was captain of the club in the post war years
Letters of support were read out from many old players pledging their support :- Arnold Ridley, I J Pitman, W H Sheppard, Charles Fortune, Louis Powell, Len Bisgrove, Rev John Downward, Bill Bascombe, Malcolm Sparkes, Jim Parsons, John Dingle, L Stockden, Harry Oak, Lance Wardle, Derrick Wilson, Victor Smith and "Shammer" Weeks.
This article appeared in the Bath & Wilts Evening Chronicle published on 19th May 1951