Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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v Sydney College 1872


played at Sydney College, Bath 26th October 1872

The first match played was against Sydney College, Bath at the College grounds in Bath. Playing 15 a-side at a time when 20 a-side was the norm. There were no referees and the laws of the game decreed that "the captains of the respective sides shall be the sole arbiters of all disputes". Clifton won by 1 goal, 3 tries and 2 touches to nil. The book 'Fifty Years with the Clifton Rugby Football Club" list that first team as


Charles Strachan, D.H.Walsh


George A. Newall, Channer, A.W.S.Young


C.E.Atkinson, Duncan, Michael M. Curtis, Lovell, Edwards, W.F.Bence-Jones

Verner, F.Evans, Borrett, Chamberlain

George A. Newall scored the first try for Clifton.

Above left: Sydney College, Bath in 1896. Since 1916 it has been the Holburne Museum of Art and belongs to Bath University. It was once the Georgian Sydney Hotel, whose glittering society Jane Austen watched from her house opposite. It displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne. It is situated at the end of Great Pulteney Street. Above right as it is today.

The Clifton players that played in this match were

Charles Strachen

Born Prestbury, Gloucestershire abt 1855 ex Cheltenham College. In 1871 living at Argle House, Pembroke Road, Clifton.

Above Argle House, 107 Pembroke Road, Clifton.

For more click here

David Henry Walsh

Born 17th October 1852. Died 1943. Clifton College 1863-1871. MD Edin. Sen.Phys. Western Skin Hosp.Tuberculosis M.O. St.George's in the East. Founder Rontgen Society. Author, Rontgen Rays in Medical Work. Played for Clifton RFC from 1872-73. Died ?. Clifton's first Vice-Captain. In 1871 the Walsh family lived at 76 Pembroke Road, Clifton. His father, David Henry Walsh was a Woollen Merchant born in Cheltenham. His mother was Sarah born in Monmouth abt. 1818.

Above 76 Pembroke Road, Clifton. This is not the house Walsh lived in but is now on the site of Walsh's house which I suspect was damaged during WW2.

In 1881 Walsh was living at Ivywell, Stoke Bishop with his widowed mother.

In 1896 he was working at Dundee Royal Infirmary.

George Alfred Newall

Born abt. 1851 in Scotland. Clifton College April - July 1863. A Civil Engineer who lived at St. Roque, 131 Pembroke Road, Clifton. Clifton's first Treasurer. He scored Clifton's first ever try.

Above St. Roque, 131 Pembroke Road, Clifton.

His widow, Sarah Elizabeth Newall died on August 24th 1949, aged 91 at Jesmond, Worlebury Park, Weston-super-Mare.

Osbourne Henry Channer

Born 21st August 1853. Clifton College 1865-1866. Sherbourne School. Lt. Col. Indian Medical Service. Afgan War, 1879-1882. Son of Col. George Gudwood Channer, 102 Pembroke Road, Clifton. Died 1937.

Above 102 Pembroke Road, Clifton.

Alexander Stewart Ward Young

Born 14th February 1852 Redland, Bristol. Clifton College 1863-1868. Lt.Col RAMC at Cape of Good Hope. Father Simon A.G.Young a retired army surgeon from Scotland. In 1871 living at 3 Chandos Place, 64 Pembroke Road, Clifton.

Above 64 Pembroke Road, Clifton.

C.E.Atkinson ?
Patrick Duncan Jnr Born 8th October 1849 Tiverton, Devon. Clifton College 1867-1868. In 1871 an Articled Pupil to a Civil Engineer. Living at The Grange, Downfield Road, Clifton. Father was a Captain in the West Cork Artillery Militia and born abt. 1827 in Corriemulizie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and rose to the rank of Colonel. His mother Jane died when he was young and his father married Emma 30 years his junior and retired to 68 Dyke Road, Brighton. His father had another son at 58 years of age.
Michael Martyn Curtis

Born abt. 1854. Educated Malvern College. Son of Public Accountant John Curtis of Bristol. In 1871 the Curtis family lived at 101 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. Now a Corel Betting Shop.

Above 101 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. The shop front extensions did not exit in 1872.

William Joseph Gale Lovell

Born abt. 1853 in Bristol. Living at 1 Melrose Place, Clifton. Listed as a Timber Trade Apprentice. His brother John J. Lovell was also a member of Clifton RFC from 1872. Their father John G. Lovell is listed as a Coal Merchant. Clifton's first Secretary.

Above 1 Melrose Place, Clifton

M.A.Edwards ?
William Francis Bence-Jones born 9th March 1856 in Ireland. Educated at Rugby School, Exeter College Oxford. Inner Temple 1883. He died on 19th Nov 1883 when out shooting in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland. He dropped his gun which fell to the ground and fired the contents of both barrels into his ankle. His leg had to be amputated and he died of shock the following day.
Thomas Alexander Verner Born abt 1849 Bengal, India. Mechanical Engineer. 1871 at Benwell Tower, Northumberland. Father Albert Verner from Melbourne, New South Wales. 2 brothers born in Carrickfergus.
Frank Evans

Born abt 1854 in Stanford Dingley, Berkshire. Living at 23 Pembroke Road, Clifton. Father David P. Evans, Tanner and Councillor from Ashburton, Devon. Eldest brother of Clifton RFC and Scotland International Herbert Lavington Evans.

Above 23 Pembroke Road, Clifton. Now divided into flats.

Alfred Charles Henderson Borrett Born 14th January 1854 Yarmouth, Norfolk. Clifton College 1870-1871. Planter in Ceylon. Son of Dr. J. Borrett, Clifton. Died 1941. His son was killed at Cambrai during World War 1.
Claude Chamberlain Born 29th April 1853 in Bristol. Clifton College 1865-1870. Worked for his father, Henry T. Chamberlain, as a Sugar Merchants Clerk. In 1871 census living at Caynham Villa, Kensington Place, Clifton. Worked in China. The family business was at 22 Clare Street. Died 1886.

3 players were selected but couldn't play

Walter Stuckey Paul

b.4.11.1849. d.1925. Clifton College:1863-1866. Architect and Surveyor, Bristol. Played rugby for Gloucestershire.

Above 13 Hurle Crescent, Clifton, home of W.S.Paul

His wife Marion Colthurst Paul died on Feb 15th 1940 at 13 Hurle Crescent. She was the daughter of James Godwin of Stoke Bishop. She was buried at St. Alban's Church, Westbury Park.

Thomas Hughes Delabere May Born 8th March 1852, Reading, Berkshire. Clifton College 1864-1869. Trinity College Cambridge. Son of Thomas May, Grove House, Durdham Down, Clifton. Translated Virgil's Aeneid, 1902. He died on 5th December 1942.
William Robert Webb

Born 1st March 1852, Stapleton, Bristol. Clifton College 1865-1869. Business, Bristol. Died 1894. 1871 Clerk at a Vinegar Works, living at Keswick Lodge, 52 Whiteladies Road, Clifton. Father William Web, widower and Ship Owner. Both his sons Wilbert Maitland Webb and Douglas Maitland Webb went to Clifton College.

awaiting photo

Above left: map of 52 Whiteladies Road, Clifton (1901) on the corner of Alma Road and Whiteladies Road. Above right: The house is now a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland with an extension at the front. The rear garden was built on and is now Papa Deli.

Above The Western Daily Press on 28th October 1872 report

The Sydney College side was

Lennard Stokes Born 12th February 1856 Greenwich, London. Son of Henry Graham Stokes, Proctor to the Admiralty and solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth Sewell. Brother of the first and current England Captain Frederick Stokes. Went on to play rugby for Blackheath and captain England. Studied medicine at Guys Hospital. Died 3rd May 1933 Tarrant, near Andover, Hampshire.
Graham Stokes Born 1858 Greenwich. Son of Henry Graham Stokes, Proctor to the Admiralty and solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth Sewell. Brother of the first and current England Captain Frederick Stokes. Brother of Lennaard. Went on to play rugby for Blackheath. Solicitor. Died 19th December 1921 Woolwich. London.