Leeds Tykes


Roundhay 1980

Dick Hunt was the first captain and John Scholefield took over a treasurer in the third season and stayed until 1956 a stint  of 30 years. Gordon Kirk then completed the final 36 years during which time the club always made a small profit and was never overdrawn.  Just after the second world  war the role of Chairman of  the General Committee was brought into being. Tubby Hutton undertook this task in the first year, only Lawrie Turnbull, Ron Bidgood and John Hopkins took the role in the next 45 years. 

Roundhay RUFC was formed in April 1924 following a meeting at the Mansion Hotel where Mr E P Sharman was in the chair. The first secretary was Eric Bleakley who was probably the strongest driving force in the formation and undertook the role for four years. He always was fixture secretary for the first five seasons.

Throughout the 78 year history the club was fortunate to have a succession of men of just the right calibre to continue to move the club forward off the pitch. To mention but a few — Reg Parkinson, John Scholefield, Dick Hunt, Vic Fairbourn, E.J. Loy Wooler, Jack Warrington, Lawrie Turnbull, Gordon Kirk, David Stead, Ronnie Bidgood and John Hopkins. 

The move to Chandos Park in 1932 helped to focus the minds on building a stable club which had a reputation for playing fast attractive rugby. Just before the move to Chandos the best season in the first half century was enjoyed at Bracken Edge when the club won 28 of 35 matches scoring 703 points and conceding just 202.  During World War II over half of the players were called up, but despite the difficulties the club kept going. It emerged stronger for the experience and in 1948 Jack Best, a canny full- back, became the first player to represent Yorkshire. Many followed including Dennis Wilkins who also went on to gain the highest honours playing 13 times for England in the period from 1951-1953 playing all the 5-Nations games plus one test against South Africa. The ‘Squire’ as he was known started his rugby career in the ‘B’ side having only played soccer at school. 

As standards improved the 1950-51 season must rank up there with the best as 27 games were won from 33 matches with David Stead kicking 210 points. 1954 saw the side reach the County final for the first time when they lost 17-3 against the Royal Signals at Otley. In 1963 Bev Dovey propped for England against Wales and Ireland whilst at University and after a series of moves round the country returned to Leeds in 1973 where he soon captained the side.

The quality was improving throughout the sixties and seventies and Roger Pullan had two years at the helm before Richard Aspey took the mantle for five seasons. The first County cup win eventually came in 1974 (the golden jubilee year), under Bev’s guidance, after several losing finals, but it only took another five years to regain the trophy.

By then another international Richard Cardus  was captain and Keith Smith, arguably one of the finest players to wear the famous emerald green with red and white hooped shirts, also appeared for the  club, Yorkshire and England with distinction. Keith was one of ten backs in ten seasons that ‘turned’ professional and moved to the rugby league code. Others were Ian Orum, Andy Mason and David Heselwood. In total club players made 97 appearances for the County during the 70’s with others not mentioned so far including Phil Bell, Colin Smith, Geoff Ramskill, Roger Dickinson, Albert Thundercliffe, Simon Tipping and Glen Cooper. 

The club twice topped 1000 points with the best being achieved in 1974-75 when 1066 points were scored with only six losses in 45 matches. In the last game of the 1979-80 season the final touchline conversion was kicked to make 1001 points scored in 43 games.

But for the real ‘statos’ the best return was probably the season before when only 28 games were won but bad weather had reduced the season to only 33 games giving an 85% success ratio. The final totals showed that the 1st XV played 2373 games and won 1402 and rather surprisingly drew 151 (including seven in 1965-66 from 33 matches). A success rate over the history of just short of 60%.

The last home league match was against Richmond on 11th April 1992. The last try scored for the club was by captain and lock Glyn Thompson at Clifton and he then scored the first try for Leeds in the inaugural game against Hull lonians at Kirkstall. 

It must not be forgotten that the club was more than just the 1st XV with the Trojans, the Foxes, the Rams and Baxter’s All Stars all adding to the wonderful spirit enjoyed at Chandos. For the biggest part of its existence 5 senior teams were run plus a Colts and for quite a number of years a junior section flourished.