Percy Park Rugby Football Club was founded in 1872 by J. Stanley Todd, who lived at 60 Percy Park in Tynemouth. The team originally played in a field behind his home and the name of the club was derived from this street.
When the fields behind Percy Park were taken over for gardens in 1879, the club moved on and played on Collingwood Monument fields.
In 1881, the team moved and played on Dolphin Field; however, this was only available on Saturday afternoons. The players had to erect goal posts before the game and then take them down afterwards to be stored in the yard of the nearby Dolphin Inn.
Mr Dunn, the landlord of the inn, was a keen supporter and allowed his premises to be used for changing purposes. Meetings at this time were held at ‘Medley’s’ in Nile Street and later in the decade the committee met for a brief period at the Albion Inn and then for many years at ‘Raynors’, also in Nile Street. In 1882, just ten years after formation of the club, the membership reached 100.
By 1884, the club was playing at Hunt Hill, Hawkeys Lane which was also known as The Old Earl Percy Field and was situated to the south of Preston Cemetery.
It was said that the first team players had the privilege of using a bedroom in one of the cottages near the gate as a dressing room, but they had to perform their ablutions in a bucket in the yard. The third and fourth teams, however, had to be content with hanging their coats on the Cemetery wall.
Appleby Park became the venue for the team in 1887, and the site was later taken over and used by North Shields A.F.C. The field is now occupied by housing.
Finally, the club moved in 1896 to a new venue on Preston Avenue, where they have been situated ever since. Following the Second World War the club was financially stable and so in 1949 they purchased their ground for the sum of £3,000. Amongst the tributes was a memorial tablet, unveiled in memory of those players who had made the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country.
In 1955 a new clubhouse was built and was opened by the Duke of Northumberland. The same year, negotiations began to lease a second playing area on an area locally known as ‘Harbottles Field’.
A new concrete stand was built in 1983, replacing an earlier wooden framework which burned down, and further construction work in 1998 saw the building of a new clubhouse equipped with modern facilities.
Over the years which followed, various other modernisations and improvements have been carried out to the clubhouse and grounds as Percy Park RFC steadily progresses into the future.
With grateful thanks to Percy Park RFC. Further details can be found here.
by Charlie Steel © 2013
His published books include ‘Monkseaton Village’ Vols 1 & 2, and ‘North Shields Public Houses, Inns & Taverns Part 1’, all of which are available from most local booksellers.