Rampant Rovers and their powerhouse 1930s years

The Hartlepool Rovers team of 1939.
The Hartlepool Rovers team of 1939.

It’s possibly the most staunch follower of rugby union in the land – if you look at the size of the town.

Hartlepool is a real stronghold for the sport and that is reflected in the research available to the keen historian, all stored at the Central Library.

Last week, we began a look at the history of the game in town with the help of Sandra McKay, from the library.

Today, we take a further glimpse.

“Hartlepool is unique in England as it maintains some eight rugby union clubs in a town of only 90,000 inhabitants,” said library officer Sandra.

But with a history of 145 years of the game, it is perhaps not surprising that the town has such a strong affinity with the sport.

Last week, we told how Hartlepool Rovers rose to become a force in the game.

By 1929, Rovers were already celebrating a golden jubilee, and the occasion was marked by post match celebrations in the Borough Hall with 350 officials, members and players both past and present turning up.

The game which had gone before was the famous Rovers tie against an Oakes XV. It was a strong Oakes side that year but they still could not stop Rovers from recording a 19-13 win, their fifth out of the last six in the fixture.

Other archived research in the Central Library includes a poster advertising the Rovers annual dinner for the year 1887.

It was a big year for Rovers, who were winners of the Durham County Challenge Cup, and they planned to celebrate at an annual dinner in the King’s Head Hotel.

The success of the side did not end there either.

Another image kindly shared by Sandra shows Rovers’ historic Durham County Senior Cup run in the 1938-39 season. Rovers went on to win the trophy for the 25th time in their history.

A photo of the occasion shows the squad lined up at their clubhouse in Moor Terrace, including captain AC Harrison.

Rugby’s strong Hartlepool roots were recorded for posterity after the World Cup was held in England in 2015.

Clubs got together with Hartlepool’s libraries and the town’s museum service to “record the rich local history of Rugby Union Football in the town and district”.

The library’s reference section – with its 500 years of recorded history – is worth a visit for keen historians.

Apart from sport, it has every official record on Hartlepool’s population since official records began in 1837, and every town Census since they were first logged in 1841.

The library is open between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Saturdays.

To find out more, contact (01429) 272905.