Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Nifty at 50 - Colts Ready to Celebrate; PETER GRIFFITHS Throws the Spotlight on the Local Rugby Scene

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Nifty at 50 - Colts Ready to Celebrate; PETER GRIFFITHS Throws the Spotlight on the Local Rugby Scene

Article excerpt

A REAL bean feast is to take place at Stockton next Saturday to celebrate 50 years of Colts rugby at Station Road in Norton.

Fed up with their teenagers turning up with cauliflower ears and black eyes, the club claim they were possibly the first in the area to form a Colts team enabling school leavers to enjoy games against those their own age, back in 1958.

The leap to senior rugby is still a tough one to take - it is still possible to have a raw teenager in the front row battling against a grizzly 'seen it all' 40-something-year-old - but Stockton have been trying to support players to bridge the gap for 50 years.

In fact Jim Fox of Norton Recreation Ground Trust, where Stockton are based, joined the club solely to be a member of that first Colts side.

Since then there have been many ups and downs with an estimate of upwards of a thousand plus Colts players having benefited from the coaching and support on tap from volunteers such as Peter Hudson, Bob Coulson, Roger Atkinson, Roy Mallaby, Alan Wilkinson, John Green, Phil Trotter, Barry Brownlee, Bob Howat, Peter Dixon, Cyril Smith, Trevor Wild, John Maloney, Matthew England, Dave Humphreys, Nick Moore, Rick Taylor and Jamie Brown.

And of course there is Peter Armstrong, whose record 20-year tenure as Colts coach from 1984-2004 brought many memories and trophies.

'Mr Stockton' Terry Wilson now administers the youth set-up.

He said: "If you judge a colts section solely by the calibre of players it produces, Stockton have certainly had their fair share of Premiership stars through their ranks including Steve Hackney (Leicester); Russell Earnshaw (Bath), Alan Brown and Craig Lee (West Hartlepool) and currently Steve Jones and Geoff Parling at Newcastle Falcons with Jones now also being part of the Scotland B set-up and main-stay full back."

However the club have always prided themselves on being inclusive, with potential third and fourth teamers being regarded as just as important as those on fast track development to first team rugby.

"On top of that, many have left the Teesside area for work elsewhere," added Wilson, "and we believe they at least have a passport to a wonderful social life if they go on to join another rugby club. …

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