New Changing Rooms 1963


New Changing Rooms 1963

Photo: Heath Rufc Archive

A Short History of Heath R.U.F.C and our 13 year stay in Yorkshire 1.

Abreviated History.

(Formerly Heath Old Boys RUFC)

The idea of forming an Old Boys Rugby Club arose probably during 1927 at the time Heath Grammar School changed from Association Football to Rugby Union. Although the first official season was 1928/29, games were played on an “ad hoc” basis during 1927/28, a team of Heath Old Boys and Schoolboys playing both soccer & rugby according to whichever could be arranged.

1932 – Heath Old Boys are the only team to beat Copley on their own ground & one of only two teams to beat Brighouse Rangers A XV

1934-5 – Season Beat local rivals Old Crossleyans three times including a 46-3 victory in the Cup.

1935- The Club Treasurer, Rex Fry, who it was said “Could pull strings at the Town Hall” managed to obtain for the Club the lease of Corporation owned land at West Vale. Changing facilities were in another pub, the Bridge Inn, which stood on the left hand side of Rochdale Road. There was a large communal bath built into an outhouse with hot water from an electric water heater.

1937- The Club reaches the Shield semi-final and third round of the Yorkshire Cup.

1940- The Club offers the shared use of the ground to Old Crossleyans as Broomfield had been requisitioned for food planting.

1948- Heath is the last local club to reform after the war with home games held at another ground for a season.

1949- First post war games held at West Vale on November 26th.

1952-The Club’s Silver Jubilee was celebrated with a Reunion Dinner at the White Swan Hotel. The Club hosted the first local 7 a side tournament for the Sutcliffe Cup.

1955-The Club is disbanded due to lack of support.

1956- The Club reforms and whilst results are not brilliant it survives.

1960- A ten year lease is obtained on the ground and plans drawn up for the construction of a pavilion and changing rooms in two stages.

1963- The new changing rooms are ready for use at a cost of £600 as fund raising was difficult with no base but results are dire with only 3 victories and two draws from 35 matches.

1966/67 Season- Much improved results with 29 wins out of 35 games losing in the semi-final of the Shield and the fourth round of the Cup, win the Bramley Sevens and reach the semi-finals of both the Sutcliffe Cup and the Bridlington Sevens.

1968- Reach the Shield Final and beat Heath G.S. in the Sutcliffe Cup Final.

1971- Work commenced in the summer on the long awaited Clubhouse at an estimated cost of £2250. The opening game was against Roundhay.

1973- Heath entertained a team from Syracuse University in New York; the first American team to play in Halifax.

1974- Three teams were now being fielded and the facilities were becoming too small. Yorkshire Water became the freeholders and a new 28 lease was negotiated with plans drawn up for additional changing and bar facilities and the creation of a new pitch at a cost of £20,000.

1975- It was agreed to drop the “Old Boys” from the Club name.

1976- The new extensions were opened by ex-British Lion John Spencer before a match against a Rugby Press XV.

1979- The Golden Jubilee Season culminating in winning the Yorkshire Silver Trophy.

1987- The start of the new season is profoundly affected by an accident on the M6 near Lancaster which saw the loss of Mick Hiller Secretary for over 18 years, Tom Park Treasurer between 1963/64 and 1974/75 and Keith Whitaker a First XV Captain in the late Fifties. Amongst the injured were Russell Smith President since 1969/70, David “Harry” Brearley Chairman between 1974/75 and 1984/85 and Keith Johnson Fixture Secretary since 1957/58.

1990- The Clubhouse was extended again at the rear to provide an enlarged kitchen, Bar and Ladies facilities.

1998- A side extension was completed to provide a covered entrance, physio facilities and an enlarged clubroom.

1997/98- The Club is promoted to Yorkshire Division 3

1998/99- Promotion to Yorkshire Division 2.

2000/01- Reorganisation again in Yorkshire Division 3.

2001/02- The Season to remember! Winners of the Powergen Junior Vase at Twickenham, winners of the Yorkshire Silver Trophy and promoted to Yorkshire Division 2 as Champions.

2004/05- Relegated to Yorkshire Division 3.The First Year of the Five Year Plan agreed and the Club gained the Seal of Approval. The Club also gained an award in respect of volunteering.

2005/06- Promoted back to Yorkshire Division 2 as Champions and the Second Year Seal of Approval gained. Good work was being done in respect of Junior teams.

2006/07- Promoted to Yorkshire Division 1 as runners up happened at the last game against North Ribblesdale. The Old Brodleians from the division above were beaten in the Shield at West Vale. The Third Year Seal of Approval was gained.

Work started in the close season on a new entrance off Stainland Road and tiered seating was completed in the stand courtesy of an anonymous donor. The RFU agreed to a grants package for the installation of match floodlighting.

2007/08- The Fourth Year Seal of Approval was granted by the RFU. The Clubhouse was refurbished both inside and out. Local Charities were supported by hosting a Live ‘Eath Concert.

2008/09- The new entrance was finally completed and the car park extended. The Fifth Year Seal of Approval was granted.

2011- Finished third in Yorkshire 1 with 82 points.

2013- The newly extended Clubhouse incorporating two new changing rooms, referees room & physio room was opened in September by Manu & Freddie Tuilagi.

2015-  The RFU granted the Club "Club Accreditation" successor to the Seal of Approval.

2015-  The Club was selected to be in a short list of six clubs nationwide as Finalaists in the President's Award for Facilities and was "Highly Commended"

2015-  The Boxing Day Flood caused a great deal of damage to the building and surrounds. The costs of rectification total around £25,000. Club Members rally round in the clear up. Flood doors are installed in the Beer Cellar & Boiler Room.

2017-  The First Beer Festival is held and is a great success. In August, the alterations to the east end of the building are completed along with a refurbishment of the old changing rooms and downstairs toilets. At the same time the balcony is doubled in size.

2018-  The First XV record their best ever performance in terms of wins and points gained finishing fifth with 96 points having played 26 matches, winning 19, drawing 2 and losing 5. York who were promoted as Champions were beaten at home and the away fixture was drawn 25 all. Scarborough were beaten away for the first time ever and they were promoted as Runners Up.

 2018-  A new car park is constructed at the Stainland Road end of the first XV field.

2018-19- The Club's 90th Anniversary Season.

 2019-20 - The advent of the coronavirus epidemic meant that no rugby was played after March 16th 2020. The RFU later decided that the top two clubs i.e. Old Brodleians & Heath would be promoted to North 1 East for the following season. Heath finished with 106 points and Old Brods with 111 on the adjusted table produced by the RFU. The position as at March 16th was 86 and 90 points respectively.

The following interesting statistics are taken from the RFU's website.

Highest points at home- Heath 379, Old Brods 331. Highest points away Beverley 316, Heath 250. Least points at home Dinnington and Heath 148. Least points away Old Brods 86, Heath 157. Longest winning streak Heath 8 matches, Beverley 5. Try Bonus points Beverley 13, Heath 13.Biggest Fortress Heath & Old Brods 11. Best Travellers Heath 8, Old Brods & Old Crocs 6.

This was definitely a season to remember.

2020-21-  This was not a season to remember as not a game was played.  The Finance Sub-Committee met on numerous occasions throughout the period to ensure that the Club survived and prospered by applying for all the financial benefits that were available. Grant aid enabled the remaining flood doors to be fitted and the interior was repainted and the balcony relaid to ensure that it was now waterproof. Consultations were ongoing with Council representatives with regard to a new walkway from Clay House to the new Elland Station that was to be constructed from April 2022.



Ilkley           P26 W21 D1 L4 924 348=576. TB 16 LB 2 POINTS 105
Heath           P26 W19 D3 L4 686 407=279 TB12 LB2                  96
Driffield        P26 W19 D2 L5 875 472=403   TB14 LB1                 95
Cleckheaton P26 W19 D0 L7 798 487=411 TB14 LB4                    95

The following are various statistics taken from the RFU website.

Home Points 356   8th =
Away Points 330 6th
Home Points against 205 3rd =
Away Points against 202 2nd
Longest Winning Streak 9 matches 1st =
Try Bonus points 12 5th
Biggest Fortress 9 3rd =
Best Travellers 1st.

The above numbers speak for themselves and are a credit to the players, coaches and backroom staff.  North 1 East was always going to be a challenge especially with long away trips to Durham, Consett & Morpeth but all these were successfully undertaken with good contacts & hospitality made and received.

There were several stand out games during the season. The usual fierce encounters with the Old Brods resulting in a win at home and a draw away. A similar result occurred against Ilkley with a last-minute draw at home and a sterling performance away, especially in the no score second half defending a 10-8 lead! The final game against Pocklington was certainly not one for supporters of a nervous disposition but, in the end, all was well and North Premier (now Regional 1 North) beckoned.

New horizons for the coming season with trips to Alnwick, Billingham, Paviours and West Bridgford. There are several new faces in the squad and cautious optimism is probably the order of the day (a personal view after nearly 60 years of playing and supporting)



Billingham P 22 W19 D0 L 3 PF 812 PA 293 + 519 Try BP 16 LBP 2  Total 94

Heath       P 22 W 16 D0 L 6 PF 759 PA 444 + 315 Try BP 14 LBP 4  Total 82

The League Stats include the following:-

Points Home Heath 424 2nd Place

Points Away Heath 335 2nd Place

Points Conceded Home Heath 205 4th.Place

Points conceded Away Heath 239 2nd Place

Fortress  Heath 9 4th.Plce

Travellers Heath 7 2nd Place

Top Try Scorers. J.merrie & E.Spiers 14 4th.Place. C.Harriott-Brown 10 6th.Place

Top Points Scorers. C.Johnson 264 1st.Place J.Merrie & E.Spiers 70 9th.Palce.

By any stretch of the imagination, this was a fabulous result for the Club especially after two successive promotions especially bearing in mind my cautious optimism expressed at the beginning of the Season!!

There is just the Papa John's National Cup to win now!

The Club were drawn in a mini-league along with Blackburn, Lymm and Bromsgrove. Blackburn decided not to compete and Lymm beat Bromsgrove away in the first round of matches. Bromsgrove then declined to travel to Heath and Lymm had a bye against Blackburn. So, it was Heath v Lymm at North Dean in the decider for the Semi Final. It was a cracking game on a pleasant afternoon and the home side were victorious by 26-14. 

This resulted in away trip to Hampshire to take on Havant on their 3G pitch. A coach load of players and supporters made the long journey South stopping over night in Reading. It was a hard fought game especially in the last quarter but the home side just made it through by 27-21. A valiant effort by all concerned.

As an aside Havant went on to meet Driffield at Twickenham the following weekend and lost to our friends from the East Riding in a side containing our former player Daniel Ramsden!

The Season can not end without a note of the fantastic performances from the Age Grade Teams led by Alastair Gordon and his merry band of assistants.

51 players took part in games as follows:-

U 11- 12 including two girls.

U 12- 19

U13- 20

24 rounds of fixtures were undertaken with a grand finale for U 11 & U 12 at Huddersfield RUFC the latter being unbeaten at the festival.

The U 13 team lost to Northern A in the final of the Sandal Castle Cup having beaten the likes of Worcester in the opening rounds.

So, it is good to see that winning and being competitive runs throuhout the Club!!



Some more in depth reading .........


Starting with:   Heath in Yorkshire 1.

Heath have been one of the longest consecutive members of Yorkshire 1 having spent thirteen seasons in this league. 

In 2006 Kevin Plant was appointed as Director of Rugby and in his first season he succeeded in gaining promotion to Yorkshire 1, the highest level of rugby the club had achieved, to that point. Here is a review of all the seasons:

Season 2007/8    Heath's first ever season in Yorkshire 1 started with a visit to Sandal and defeat by 48-7 to the Wakefield side who went on to clinch the title. At the end of the season Heath finished in seventh place and along the way had big wins against Redcar 46-0, who were relegated along with Huddersfield YMCA. Highlight of the season was an away win at Fleetwood in the EDF Trophy before bowing out to Guisborough. 

League playing record   Played 22 Won 9 Drew 1 Lost 12

Season 2008/9 A good season for Heath who finished in fourth place behind Champions Old Brodleians and runners up Bridlington.  Highlight was a 50-8 mauling of Malton and Norton and a visit to Glossop, who were relegated, along with Scarborough. 
League playing record   Played 22 Won 14 Drew 1 Lost 7

Season 2009/10 The third season saw the League extended to fourteen clubs in a re-organisation of all leagues with Scarborough maintaining their Yorkshire 1 status. Heath finished in a mid-table tenth position with Wheatley Hills promoted and Yarnbury and Skipton relegated. A loss to Castleford by 63-17 was the only down point of the season. 
League playing record   Played 26 Won 11 Lost 15

Season 2010/11 Probably the best season of Planty's reign with the team pushing for promotion and just missing out to Malton and Norton and Sheffield to finish in third place. Selby and Bradford Salem were relegated. Highlight score was a 58-9 victory over Dinnington.
 League playing record   Played 26 Won 16 Drew 1 Lost 9

Season 2011/12 After a great season expectations were high as Heath went into the start of the season but again we fell short finishing in eighth position as Pocklington and Keighley were promoted with Dinnington and Castleford relegated.  A loss by 41-0 to Scarborough was one to be forgotten. One game not played against Ilkley who were in the Vase final at Twickenham and did not fulfil their fixture. 
League playing record   Played 25 Won 13 Drew 1 Lost 11

Season 2012/13 September was probably the lowest point so far for the clubs life in Yorkshire 1 as Heath travelled to Scarborough and were well and truly thumped 79-10.  The site of our Head coach sat in the middle of the field at the end of the game probably summed it all up as the rest of the season the club struggled and we finished in twelfth place just above relegated Barnsley and Knottingley.  Driffield were promoted alongside Huddersfield YMCA who won a play- off. In the Yorkshire Shield we were somewhat frustrated after securing a place in the semi only for the Yorkshire committee to cancel all cup competitions. 
League playing record   Played 26   Won 9 Drew 1 Lost 16

Season 2013/14 The clubs eighth season saw a slight improvement in league position with the win over Pontefract by 39-0 the highlight. Nevertheless, Heath finished a creditable eleventh with Dinnington and Ilkley promoted and Keighley and Acklam relegated.
 League playing record Played 26 Won 9 Drew 1 Lost 16

Season 2014/15 The last full season for Kevin Plant after he opted to step down from his coaching role due to retiring from his teaching post. Yet another difficult season as results ebbed and flowed as we tried to stave off relegation. During the season a thrashing at North Ribblesdale by 74-20 was a low point. Champions were Doncaster Phoenix, who went through the season unbeaten, with Malton and Norton runners up.  Pontefract and Wath-on-Dearne occupied the relegation places.
 League playing record   Played 26 Won 10 Lost 16



In Depth, no 2 ...............



Season 2015/16  Dave “Harry” Harrison returned to the club as Head coach at the start of the season after a spell with Cleckheaton and brought with him Syd Sales as player coach. Several new players were added to the squad and at the end of the season Heath sat in eighth spot with Bradford and Bingley sitting top after amassing 121 points. Relegated were Old Crossleyans and West Park Leeds.  
League playing record Played 26 Won 13 Drew 1 Lost 12

Season 2016/17 Heath had another indifferent season finishing in ninth place. Richard Brown (Fwd Coach) and New Zealander Jordan Bradbrook were welcomed into the fold but despite an horrendous start to the season they rallied to finish mid-table. Promoted were Bridlington and West Leeds with Yarnbury and Acklam going in the opposite direction.
 League playing record Played 26 Won 11 Drew 0 Lost 15

Season 2017/18 A great season for Heath as they jostled for a top two spot all season but finished in fifth place with 96 points. Jason Merrie, Seife Boussadda and Dave Skinner joined the ranks along with several returning Colts. At the end of the season top were York, who Heath defeated and drew with, second Scarborough, who were beaten by Heath home and away, both promoted, Middlesbrough, won one and lost one and Beverley, who won both games with scores in the last minute of each game, finishing third and fourth respectively.
 League playing record Played 26 Won 19 Drew 2 Lost 5

Season 2018/19 Heath continued where they left off adding Dan and Jonny Cole to the squad and securing the services of Issy Spooner and Alex Patrick during the year. They spent most of the season chasing down Moortown, who have been crowned Champions, but secured second spot and a play-off game against West Hartlepool but lost the game in the final minute. Relegated are Guisborough along with either Old Rishworthians. Heath also reached the final of the Yorkshire Shield when they took on local rivals Old Brodleians the game played at Keighley RUFC. Having to play five days after the crucial play-off against West Hartlepool Heath were never really in the game and Brods ran out winners 18- 6 
League playing record    Played 26 Won 22 Lost 4

Season 2019/20 Heath welcomed Willie Tufui into the squad and began the season as title  favourites but a loss to Old Brodleians in the third game of the season meant the contest would be between these two clubs. As the season developed Heath and Brods exchanged top spot but the season was brought to an abrupt end when the coronavirus spread across the world reaching Britain in March and the rugby season was finished. However, following a ruling by the RFU Heath were promoted, alongside Old Brodleians, to North 1 East level 6 in the league pyramid and it was a sad goodbye to Yorkshire 1. Relegated were Keighley and Hullensians. 
 League playing record         Played 21 Won 17 Drawn 1 Lost 3

Total League playing record from thirteen seasons    

Played 323 Won 172 Drew 10 Lost 141  
Yorkshire Shield record     Played 18 Won 8 Lost 10   
EDF Trophy Record    Played 2 Won 1 Lost 1






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