How Old Boys moved from the Headland

By Stewart - November 29 2004
As with many things with Hartlepool Rugby Club, the actual beginnings are shrouded in both doubt and controversy. The doubt comes in the actual starting date for the official date is shown as 1893 whilst there are records showing Hartlepool Old Boys playing in 1891. The controversy rises in the local hostelries of the Hartlepool Headland, the debate being which club was it, H.O.B or Boys Brigade Old Boys.

The ties with the Boys Brigade were indeed very close for the Old Boys Institute, as it was called, was formed for members of the Boys Brigade who by virtue of their age had to leave the Brigade. The founder was a Dr.A.E.Morrison and going by the Boys Brigade history the Institute was opened in 1892/3, the first premises being in Prissick Street. Prior to this the Old Boys kept in touch by having meetings “at home” in Brougham Street with Dr.Morrison, at the bible classes.

There are records of the Old Boys playing again before the Great War but in the late twenties came the split from with Boys Brigade. This split came several years after the death of Dr.Morrison, the President from 1924 being Mr J.T Nicholson.

Premises occupied at the time included a building at the top of High Street, near St Hilda’s Church and then in the High Street under the town Hall clock. Another claim for a first came around this time, the first club to play rugby at Grayfields. Following the split Club moved into premises in Middlegate, the Old Mill in High Street, above Ord the Printer’s shop and after the second World War a club was purchased for the princely sum of £350 in Friar Terrace. The building was named Mayfield House and the club stayed there until the purchase of Mayfield Park in 1968 and the subsequent moving the present headquarters in 1970 in Easington Road.

The metrication of Hartlepool Old Boys took place on June 15th 1978 at a Special General Meeting for all members. The name change was proposed by Mick Lister at the Club;s Annual General Meeting a month earlier, the matter being deferred because of the obvious long discussions that would be generated.

The simple statement recorded in the minutes at the end of the meeting saw the end of the imperial measure and the start of the litre era (thankfully the pint is still at hand).

“After tonight Hartlepool Old Boys RFC will be known as Hartlepool Rugby Football Club.”