Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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William Henry Trenley Birch


He was born in 1869 at Fort Beaufort, South Africa, South Africa. He was the nephew of Trenley Birch of Leasowe, Cheltenham. He captained Clifton in 1891-92. He had 2 trials for England in 1894-95. Captained Gloucestershire. Later moved to Bristol Rugby Club. During the 1881 census he was at a Private School in Ham Lane, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. He was a Clerk in a Solicitors office. In 1891 he was a lodger at 20 Clyde Road, Redland, Bristol.

Above programme from the Western Counties v Midland Counties trial match of 1894 with Clifton players Lias and Birch.

Standing (L-R): C.J.Donaldson, C.Hall, W.H.Birch (Clifton), P.J.Ebdon, M.H.Toller, W.J.Lias (Clifton), H.T.Gamlin, W.E.Bildings. Seated: A.May, W.Jarman (Bristol), C.Thomas, E.Salter, F.Soane (Captain) (Bath), J.Bowley, H.Stoyle.

Above Western Counties side of 1895 with W.H.Birch. This side was part of an England trial match

Above W.H.Birch as he appeared in the book Famous Footballers in 1896. He is wearing his Gloucestershire cap. The text with the above reads

"Rugby Football in the West of England has had a few more energetic exponents than the Captain of Gloucestershire XV., W.H.Birch. Born in South Africa, he went to school at Bath College, so that his early training as a Footballer was also in the West Country. At one time he was Captain of the Clifton F.C., and for six years he has been quite one of the foremost figures in Rugby Football in Gloucestershire. He has played continuously since 1891, and last season acted as Captain of the team. He also played during the winter of 1894-95 for the Western Counties, as well as for London and the Western Counties against the Universities, two of the International trials. Standing just over 6ft. and weighing littleover 13 stone, he is a strong scrummager, using his weight to the best advantage. In addition he is a resolute tackler, while his foot work is of the most brilliant description."

Standing (L-R): H.S.Sinnott, T.W.Baker, A.W.Board, W.J.Lias, W.H.Birch, T.W.H.Inskip, H.Mills. Sitting: J.M.Greenwood, T.S.Duffett, E.W.Baker, W.E.Paul, H.N.Spencer, C.W.W.James. On Ground: E.S.B.Smith, T.Taylor, A.B.Cridland.

The above photo was taken just before the match v Bristol outside the pavilion at the CountyGround on 10th April 1897. The game ended in a 6-5 victory for Bristol. Bristol scored a try in the last second as the whistle went for full-time. Clifton claiming that the ball had been touched down after the whistle. For details of this match click here

In 1901 and 1911 he was living at 64 Oakfield Road, Clifton, Bristol. He was a Solicitor.

He died on the 2nd May 1925 aged 56. At the time he was living at "Hazelwood", Thorpe, Chertsey. He was cremated at Woking Crematorium on the 6th May 1925.

His house "Hazelwood" was sold by Messrs. Cuthbert Lake & Sutton on 14th April 1926. Solicitors: Gamlen, Bowerman & Forward.