Personalities of the Bath Club
A number of personalities have been listed individually, but there are many more who deserved to be mentioned for their contribution to the Bath Club.
Cyril R. Bailey: a past Chairman whose work on the social side has probably never been equalled.
A.H Burcombe, who started playing as a schoolboy, and went on to play for the Royal Air Force and the Combined Services. He also captained the Somerset County XV.
Joe H Bailey the Bathwick boy who played for the Royal Navy, Devonport Services and Somerset before playing for Bath.
Then there were the inseparables – Tommy W. Hicks and Norman (“Curly”) Halse-who both joined the club from the Bath Ex-Schools XV and eventually played for Somerset.
Len G. Mathews (younger brother of Norman), W.E. Hancock, A .E. Merrett also Somerset County players, P.A. Curtis, R.A. Ball, T.H Smith and former Swansea wing Guy Addenbrooke, all gave of their best for the Club and Game.
Many of us remember the famous Bath pack which included the solid foundation of H. Oak, A. Ash and J Wood and the famous front row of John.W.P. Roberts, Freddie.C. Hill and Tom Smith.
P.A. Curtis was the last captain of the Bath “A” side, and the first of the United XV when the name was changed. But maybe another great personality was Club and United captain Angus Meek, who was one of the few who captained both the United and the First XV’s and when he hung up his boots, became Team Secretary.
Gordon. F. Drewett was a diminutive scrum half; the boy whose kicking made him one the great players of his time.
One must not forget men like Leighton H. Jenkins and Danny.D. Evans (Headmaster of Oldfield Boys School) who were internationals before coming to Bath and Mervyn Shaw who, like Norman Matthews, deserved an International cap.
John West and Peter Fale joined from Combe Down, Fred.C. Book from Walcot , Richard Andrew from Bath Old Edwardians, Cliff Weston from Old Sulians and David Peters from Bishopston. Many others went back to Junior rugby to put something back into the Game.
T.B. & J.T Timmins
Brother solicitors who learnt their rugby football at Bath College. Both played for the college against the Bath club in November1895.
The next season T.B. – a powerful forward – joined the Bath Club but for some unknown reason joined the Bristol Club the following year 1897-98.
He rejoined Bath in the 1898-99 season and first played for Somerset in 1900. Captain of the club from 1903-1906 he served on the Management Committee 1906-1912 and again in1922 and took an active role in the club affairs for many years. A City Councillor for over 20 years he was also a keen territorial from 1905 onwards becoming second in command, 4th Somersets, during the First World War.
J.T. joined the club in 1896-97 and played regularly until 1909. A really brilliant centre three-quarter , quick to sense an opening and always feeding his wing a the right moment.
Played for Somerset regularly until 1909. Captain of the County against the Maoris and also played against the Australians. One famous wing three-quarter wrote: I could wish no better good fortune than to have such a centre as J. T. Timmins who never played for himself or allowed his wing to shiver on the touch line for a lack of scoring opportunity. Played for the Barbarians, Easter tour 1906.
The brothers were invaluable to the club in the early part of the century as solicitors, always ready to give their advice and assistance gratis and the minutes record many expressions of thanks to them for services rendered.
Rev. A.F. Kitching
A .F. Kitching’s first game for Bath, was against the Racing Club de France in 1907. He was a last minute replacement due to the regular wing- three quarter being taken ill. The “A” XV were away and George Roberts telephoned the headmaster at Monkton Combe School explained the position and asked for assistance. As a result A.F.K. was detailed to fill the vacancy, which he did with such success that he retained his place in the 1st XV for many seasons.
A.F.K. learnt his rugby at school in Exeter under the tuition of R. Montgomery (his house master) a Cambridge Blue and Irish international. .A. F. K. played in the freshman’s match at Oxford in 1901, but did little until coming to Monkton Combe in 1905.
For a time he played for Combe Down until the Bath club were fortunate enough to obtain his services and found they had a wing three-quarter with a safe pair of hands, a wonderful turn of speed and a devastating tackle.
He was selected for Somerset County XV on 23 occasions from 1908 to 1931, a great record. A fine player and a true gentleman, on and off the field. It was probably due to his inspiration and coaching that Monkton Combe school obtained the eminence they still maintain among public schools in rugby circles.
Although officially retired he frequently took services, at short notice for local clergymen, in emergencies.
Like his brother Vincent, Norman Coates joined the club from Bridgwater, when his parents moved to Combe Down He was a most powerful Centre- threequarter, quick of the mark with an eye for any possible opening and expert in drawing his opposite number before giving a perfect pass to his brother on the wing.
Norman captained the club in the 1911-13 seasons. He played for the Somerset XV on numerous occasions. His work took him to Leicester after World War 1and he played for Leicester for some years as a forward. A great player, and a great sportsman.
Fred Russell commenced playing rugby football in 1896, for St George’s RFC at 15 years of age.
The following season he joined Parkfield R.F.C, but after that club ceased to exist went defunct he moved to Oldfield Park R.F.C in 1898, and was selected for the Bath club in 1899.
He remained with the club as a player for over 20 years and during that period filled almost every position on the field. Vice captain 1921-1922.
One of the founders of the then Old Players Association of which he was Chairman and later President.
Fred was a great player, vigorous almost to a fault, who loved the game and played himself almost to a stand-still in every match.
Like contemporary, F.J. Cashnella, he was a well known horticulturist who won many trophies in local exhibitions
Arthur Ford, an old Bath Forum schoolboy entered the Post Office and played for them in 1900.He joined Walcot R.F.C., and was selected for Bath “A” XV in 1904. The following season he was the 1st XV, Vice-Captain and Hon. Secretary of the Rugby Insurance Fund.
Arthur was also a hard working member of the Bath Old Players Association of which he became Chairman and President.
Arthur served for some years on the Bath City council. A grand sportsman in every way.
Brother of Arthur Taylor, joined the club in the late 1890’s and was captain of the “A” XV in 1900/1901, when 19 matches were played,14 won, 4 drawn and only 1 lost. Points for 180, as against 34.An unequalled record.
“Fred” Taylor was as grand and fine a dribbler with a rugby ball as has been seen for years (Bath Chronicle 1928). He was selected for the 1st XV on numerous occasions and also capped for Somerset. However he preferred playing with his beloved “A” XV.
He joined the Management Committee on retiring from the game and was also a Director and Secretary for a time of the Bath Recreation Ground Company.
His wide knowledge of the game and his business ability were a great asset to the club. In his working life, he was an architect and for many years the Bath City Councils Architect.
His daughter, Mrs Molly Gerrard, inherited his love of rugby football and was a member of the Management Committee and became the first female President of what was termed a “first class” club.
Eddie Simpkins was devoted to rugby football and throughout his life spared no effort to foster the game.
He was Hon. Secretary of the club and rendered services to it which surely can never be surpassed.
He played for the Parkfield and Oldfield Park clubs before coming to the Bath club just prior to the First World War and was interested in many other forms of sport. As a schoolmaster, particularly at Oldfield Boys School (where he was for many years) he took a very active part in the organisation of the school’s sport and many a promising youngster found his way to the Bath club as a result of Eddie Simpkins ’influence.
But if he was excellent as the club’s Secretary, it was in lighter vein that he is best remembered.
His stories are still told, his songs are still sung and whenever “I’ve got a motto” strikes up, all thoughts turn to Eddie Simpkins. His humour was clean and his jokes unbarbed with wisdom and wit. .
W.T. (Tommy) Davis
Joined the club in 1893 from Argyle R.F.C, where he played as centre-three-quarter; had several games with Bath “A” XV and was elected to the Management Committee in 1895, serving until 1931.
in 1927 he was made a Life member and became Chairman of the club in 1929. Was Hon Secretary of Bath Rugby Combination, 1921-1935 and became a Life member of that organisation.
Tommy Davis gave a lifetime’s service to rugby football, the Bath club in particular and all local clubs in general. He was a mine of information regarding players, past and present, and kept an amazing record of the club’s activities over the years. it was from his scrap books that much of the heritage of the club has been obtained and the compilers of the Centenary brochure owe him great debt of gratitude for his remarkable work which he described as “his hobby”.
Tommy lived to the ripe old age of 92 and was rarely absent from the Recreation Ground for nearly 70 years.
No record of the club would be complete without reference to H.W.(Bert) Vanstone, who was associated with Rugby Football in general and the Bath club in particular for nearly 30 years, as a player, committee man, Hon. Treasurer, and finally as a first class referee .
Bert was a Bathonian who became a teacher by profession and coached numerous boys in the art of Rugby Football. After leaving St Paul’s college Cheltenham, he joined the staff of the famous Bathforum school, a hot bed of rugby Football, who produced numerous first class players for Bath. Walley Lewis was another member of that staff and their lifelong friend E.F. (Eddie) Simpkins completed a trio who have never been forgotten by their former pupils or by the followers of Rugby Football in this part of the West Country.
Bert Vanstone was Secretary of the Bath Schools rugby Union for some Year’s and a member of Somerset County R.F.U; in addition to being on the Bath F.C Management Committee and hon. Treasurer until he left Bath.
One of the founder members of the old Bath Rugby Supporters Club and Hon Secretary for a time; he most certainly deserves to have his name recorded in the annals of the Club.
One of the most versatile players who ever wore the bath Club jersey, Harry Slade started playing for Oldfield School in 1911 as a scrum half. Joined the club in 1919, after playing for Stothert & Pitts R.F.C, and Combe Down. Played in the first A’’ team match after the great war and was promoted to the 1st XV on many occasions, gaining a regular place in 1922.
After then, he filled almost every position outside the scrum and finished up as a regular full back. Capped for Somerset in 1927 and selected regularly up to 1929, but unfortunately his work frequently took him overseas, thus breaking a sequence of County and Club games.
Of a small stature, he was a fearless tackler, an expert at dropping goals and must have converted many scores of tries in his time. We also well known locally as a boxer. Served on the management Committee for several years until business commitments caused his retirement.
One can say with conviction that Harry never let the side down,no matter what position he was selected for.
W.F. Long & Dr. J. Long
Brothers who played for Bath for many years from 1890 onwards. W .F. (JOE) on the right wing, Dr. Jim on the left wing. In 1896 their Centres were Tich Fry and Dan Mactier and the line was possibly one of the best the Club ever had.
The Bristol match played on the old County Ground at Bristol was won by a try scored by W F after handling by all four threequarters, W.F. receiving the final pass at full speed, getting in a short punt over the fullback’s head after beating his opposite number and regaining the ball to score.
W.F was a generous supporter of several local Clubs as well. He was one of the Founder Members of the Old Players Association and took great interest in it’s activities, Dr Jim also served the Club as Honorary Surgeon for 10 years from 1904 to 1914.
Started Rugby Football at East Twerton School in 1904 and remained as a Scrum Half all through his playing career. Was first reserve for England in the Schoolboys International against Wales in 1905 and given his cap the following season. The same school under Mr. R. R.Stephenson, Headmaster, also produced another schoolboy international in 1906.Cecil Parsons, and no less than 5 other Boys played in International Schoolboy Trials that year, a great record. Harry Vowles at the age of 16, joined Bath A and was a regular player from 1908 to 1911, when he was promoted to the 1st XV. When Billy Fear retired, he took his place and played regularly until 1914. Harry joined up and served in France for 4 years. Demobilised in 1919 he rejoined the club and played every season, becoming captain in 1923.Capped for Somerset in 1920 and played in every county match until 1924, with the exception, Cornwall,in1920/21 season.
Harry was a worthy successor to Billy Fear. He was short in stature, but strongly built and would emerge from the toughest of loose mauls quite unperturbed. A great attacking scrum half with a pair of safe hands, sending out long and beautiful passes to his stand-off, and in addition able to drop goals and convert tries from almost any angle. His partnership with S.G.U. Considine was talked about for nearly a generation. They had a perfect understanding and were undoubtedly very unfortunate to be contemporaries of the famous England halves, Davies and Kershaw. But for the fact, Vowles and Considine in the opinion of well known judges of the game would have obtained International Honours as a pair. Harry Vowels retired from the game at the end of season 1924/25. He was injured in a motor accident, otherwise his great knowledge of the game would have been invaluable as a Coach. He still treasures a beautifully bound volume of Club Programmes for season 1922/23 presented to him by Bath Rugby Supporters club at the end of his Captaincy that season.
Started his rugby career at 16 years of age and first played for Avonvale 2nds at full back. Was soon promoted to the 1st fifteen but got tired of a full backs’ role and went into the pack. It was as a forward that he was soon recommended to the Bath club which he joined in October 1925, playing for the A XV
By March 1926 he was in the 1st XV against Bristol and played no less than 43 times in the Somerset jersey’s captaining the side for the 1931/32 season. in 1928-29 Norman played in 5 international trials and was travelling reserve for England on 2 occasions.
He should have played on the 2nd occasion when a vacancy occurred on the morning of the match, but one of the selectors insisted on sending for another player who was flown to Cardiff just in time to play.
Norman served on the management committee for several years and did great work for the club. is a past president of Bath F.C. old players’ association after being chairman and takes part in all their activities .
The Richardson Family
Mr Alfred Richardson who was elected to the Management Committee in 1922 was an enthusiastic follower of Rugby and proved a most valuable member.
When the North Stand was erected in the same year, he supervised and took part in painting it and more or less painted the greater part of the dressing rooms etc. He saved the club a good deal of money and the Committee paid him a great tribute at the A.G.M. Mr Richardson had 3 sons, Reg, Joe, and Harry all of whom played together in the 1st XV in 1919/1920. Reg Richardson gave up the game shortly after, owing to ill health. He was a 1st World War veteran.
Joe and Harry played for many years, both gaining county caps. Reg was a wing –three-quarter, Harry a centre and Joe a forward. They were worthy sons of a great sportsman and the family played a great in reviving the fortunes of the club after the 1st World War. Mr Alf Richardson and Reg both died in 1942, They were both renowned for deadly tackling. Harry was a great centre and Joe a fine forward.
Mr Alf Richardson’s other interest included Fishing and Bowls. He was a prominent member of Bath Anglers ‘Association, a member of Sydney gardens Bowls Club and also an active member of Bath Boys Scouts, Association .We do not know how he occupied his remaining hours of leisure (if any).