By Will Kelleher
Kingston RFC are out to celebrate their 125th anniversary season with promotion back in to the London leagues, according to chairman Graeme Maisey.
The Hook Road club finished fourth in Surrey Division One leading to the departure of former coach Earle Wilkes to be replaced by former Esher academy manager Phil Clements.
And with Philippine sevens international Mark Chatting in their ranks, Maisey, pictured below, is confident Kingston can mark their landmark in style.
“We managed to come fourth last year so we’re looking to improve on that and gain promotion,” he said.
“A few years back we were in London Three so we’re trying to get back there.
“We are looking to start where we left off last year. After Christmas we didn’t lose many, so hopefully we can continue that run.”
Formed off the back of the historic split between rugby union and rugby league back in 1887, Kingston can lay claim to being one of the oldest clubs in the area.
It has been a bumpy ride with the club having moved three times in its history from its first home in Richmond Road to its current base in King Edward’s Recreation Ground – via Bushy Park and Home Park.
An arson attack in 2003 destroyed Kingston’s Hook Road clubhouse forcing a £300,000 re-build in 2005 that was officially opened by former All Black Zinzan Brooke.
Club treasurer Barry Symonds said: “We haven’t had an unbroken history with two world wars and three different grounds in and around Kingston, but we’re still going strong.
“Our history and heritage denote Kingston RFC as a club with resilience and keen instinct for survival.”
The club have produced 125 commemorative rugby shirts to mark the occasion, while a dinner and dance event is on the agenda.
Kingston play a trial match against Old Rutlishians on September 1, before Surrey One starts on September 22.
Kingston RFC – a chequered past
A look back at Kingston’s history:
– Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee year in 1887 saw Kingston Football Club (Union) formed with its home ground in Richmond Road.
– Kingston won the Surrey Cup in March 1904 by beating Richmond St Mary’s at Harlequin’s ground, which was then located on Wandsworth Common.
– Reported in September 1910 that “Kingston FC (the Rugby Club) was defunct” with the Richmond Road ground lost.
– February 1929 saw the club reformed with their home games played in Bushy Park and changing facilities at the White Hart in Hampton Wick.
– Kingston beat an Army side at Twickenham 18-0 in April 1940 having previously played New Zealand twice, losing 16-3 in 1939 then going down 34-0 in February 1940.
- The club reformed again in 1960 with grounds in Home Park before moving to King Edward’s Recreation Ground in 1971.
– The original clubhouse – the cricket pavilion – was replaced by a prefabricated structure in December 1974, but that burnt down in 1980 before its replacement went the same way in 2003.
– A new clubhouse was completed in November 2005 and formally opened in June 2006.