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A Day in History: The First Game

In January a long time ago, the 1st January 1927 to be precise, Macclesfield RUFC took the field against a Davenport team (for those with shorter memories Davenport became the Stockport club we know and love today). This was the first game for Macclesfield RUFC. Whilst Rugby had been played in and around Macclesfield for many years before that date the club had always been registered with the RFU as Macclesfield Football Club. Therein is another story, there are very few RUFCs in the South and very few RFC (Rugby Football Club) even Sale are Sale Football Club. This naming convention reflects the real outcome of the great “broken time” payments issue that led to Rugby League and the need to differentiate between rugby football clubs in the North. For what ever reason there are no formal records of rugby being played in Macclesfield in the last years of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century. And, despite rumours there are no records of a Peter Harper playing in those days even though they (Peter Harpers) figure large in more recent (since 1959) club history.

Jennison as a young recruit
Jennison as a young recruit

A later January, 1945 was rather more sad for the Club. The country was still embroiled in the Second World War, the club had effectively disbanded at the end of 1940 for the duration of the war. Sadly the club lost 13 out of 52 playing members during the Second World War. Their names are on the club’s Memorial Board and the club continue to remember them every Remembrance Sunday at a poignant ceremony marshalled by the Mini/Junior section. One in particular is Lieutenant, Henry David Jennison, M C, 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Royal Armoured Corp. Born in 1923 in Manchester, later to live at Greysteads, Upton, Macclesfield. Henry was educated at Beech Hall and Worksop College. Both Macclesfield Cricket and Rugby Clubs counted him among their first team players. Henry went to France on D Day with the Royal Armoured Corps and was awarded the Military Cross for some outstanding military action. Henry was killed in action on the 1st January 1945, aged 21 years. A letter from his Commanding Officers states:“He was killed outright when his tank was hit at close range. His men buried him, and I think you would like to know that when we visit the spot the next day, after the battle, we found it a mass of flowers, and being tended by the French”. Henry is buried at London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval, Somme, France and commemorated on the Park Green War Memorial, Macclesfield.

January in 1970, was notable for more lighthearted and bizarre matters on the pitch. The “B XV” travelled to play St Helen’s Rec and on arrival found they had 17 players! This in a time when replacements were not allowed so it demonstrates great team management skills. One player agreed to stand down but no one else volunteered so the teams  agreed that a substitution would be made at half time. 

And so to close this first monthly look back and bring the circle around to where I started January 2003 was the 125th anniversary of Macclesfield Football clubs first registration with the RFU!


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