|A HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH ARGAUM RFC - 1887-1987|
The Eighties (1980-1987)
Season 1980 - 81
Tom Hitchins, properly and deservedly, succeeded George Cross as President. Stand-off Mike Worth, another in the line of schoolmaster in that position was Captain, Dave Osborne leading the Wanderers. Dave Sharpe took over as Secretary, whilst the notice of the meeting created a new office of "Vice Secretary" to be filled by Mrs Sharpe - happily amended in the fixture card to Assistant Hon. Sec. There was an indifferent start - three successive defeats, but a first round Devon Cup win over Dartmouth 29-22, the Club having 25-6! It was Okehampton who barred further progress, 0-20, although the Club obtained a measure of revenge later in the year, 11-6. Launceston were contained 6-8 at Bickleigh Down but Newquay Hornets and Bideford inflicted heavy defeats. In the Havill Plate, Argaum lost to Plymouth Civil Service by a Roger Harris try, to 2 Bowden dropped goals. In the mean time, the Wanderers and the Colts struggled on with mixed fortunes. Notably, Frank Lavis made a (gradual) disappearance from the back row trio.
Season 1981 - 82
Mike Worth continued as captain and Ian Ramsey took over as Secretary. Interest in the Devon Cup disappeared in September, with a 7-10 defeat at Okehampton. The senior Cornish Clubs emphasised the difference that had grown between themselves and the Club, Truro 9-44, Newquay Hornets 3-37 and 4-34, whilst an ambitious fixture against Devon and Cornwall Police went the same way, 0-36. Generally, a disappointing playing season, save Brixham II, beaten 41-15, and at Easter, the Home Office Midlands Division, 30-0. Geoff Baskerville still graced the 1st XV, whilst the Wanderers benefited from the frequent appearances of Fred Rogers and Dave Sharpe - indeed, the latter revealed a hitherto concealed talent at place kicking and for the 1st XV against the Home Office contributed a try and 2 penalties, left winger Jim Studds collecting a hat-trick of tries and his opposite winger Tim Rapier, two plus a conversion. A Sunday XV was operating, the only discoverable result is a 12-10 win over The Victoria Inn. Tim Rapier converting tries by Andy Davey and Dave Vickers, after being 0-10 down. The Colts persevered without any great success. An interesting aside; during the season, 1,640 lbs of chips and 1,636 pies were consumed - did this have any bearing on the Seasonís figures - W12, L21, D1.
Season 1982 - 83
Jim Studds Captain, and in the usual opening match against Truro, the visitors were contained 12-18, tries by Anton Phillips and Brian Willcocks, Nick Hall converting both, with Truro clinching the result in the last 5 minutes. Followed by a run of what can only be described as "disastrous results", until October, when a hitherto unbeaten Penryn II were comfortably disposed of 29-3, debuts for Argaum by 17 year old Mike England and former Services Scrum Half Harry Nicholson, Nick Hall contributed 17 points. Kingsbridge were beaten at South Ham the following week 13-10 (Nick Hall 7), but Honiton gained a 4-12 victory and Newquay Hornets II - possibly now more appropriate opposition than their seniors, drew 13-13 (Hall 9!). There followed wins over Ivybridge, Totnes and Salcombe and in the mean time, the Press reported Dave Sharpe manipulating his backs in fine style in a Wanderers 7-0 defeat of Plympton. In the new year, Devon and Cornwall Police were successful at Bickleigh Down 0-21, Honiton were defeated 15-10 and 30 points shared with Saltash. However, March/April saw some heavy defeats. The Wanderers - still without support from the Drifters - ran up a number of large scores, but their true worth was probably judged by results such as Saltash II 13-15, 4-9 against Plymouth Albion United and Bude 4-14. The 1st XV record read W9, D3, L20, 308-512 and the Wanderers - confirming their tendency for big scores - won but 4 more than last, but scored no less than 659-359. The Colts managed 5 wins, 3 draws and 20 losses.
Season 1983 - 84
The season opened with a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Truro, 11-41, Wiggy Bennett and Brian Willcocks tries, Harry Nicholson penalty and on the same day, the Wanderers ran in 9 tries against Plympton without one single conversion. Thereafter, the senior side settled down save for a somewhat hefty hiccup against Saltash, with wins over Services Pilgrims 17-14 (Fred Rogers still scoring, though confining himself to one try), Salcombe 23-7 (Hall 19), South Molton 27-12 and in the Devon Cup at Teignmouth, Argaum went down 15-16. The Argaum side Willcocks, Rapier, Marks, D Beer, Hall, Worth, Staniland, Tremin, Bennett, Cooper, Holloway, James, Davey, Rogers, Tinson, Nick Hall kicking three penalties for the Club, before going off injured. Tavistock, Kingsbridge, Plymouth Albion Extra 1st and Ballincollig became victims. Ballincollig, as might be deduced, an Irish side, were 17-0 at half time, but with the Irish contrariness, rallied to 17-17, to go under eventually 21-17. The 1st XV continued their winning ways into the new year, including a 22-3 win home to Truro, Harry Nicholson at Scrum Half grabbing 3 tries, Geoff Baskerville and Ian Rose one a piece and Collier a conversion. Competition for first team places was such that the elected Skipper Roger Marks could not be sure of his place, whilst an addition to the back row was the Royal Navy player Roger Tinson, to team up with the old firm - Fred Rogers and Geoff Baskerville. Scrum Half Harry Nicholson, just short of 100 points for the Club, was unable to clinch his "Ton" for the Club (in his last game before going to sea) against Ilfracombe and although the Club won 20-6, Harry was stuck on 98. Thereafter, one or two setbacks were experienced. Dartmouth 12-15, Salcombe 0-10 and Albion Extras 13-22. In the Havill Plate, OPMs were beaten 41-12, but Ilfracombe, who they had beaten earlier disposed of their pretentions at Bickleigh Down, won 3-11 (Harry, where art thou?) However, the heavy Saltash defeat 4-31 was avenged, just 19-18. Overall results W26, D1, L10, 715-396 and the Wanderers W21, 556-366. The Drifters made a re-appearance, including a 9:45am kick off against the South West Gas Board, which resulted in a credit for both early rising sides, a draw 14-14. The Colts included two out of town visitors in their fixture list, Metropolitan Police Cadets and Bridgend Athletic Youth Club, the visiting sides being successful on both occasions. Dave Sharp, who had given many years of service to the Club in many capacities, emigrated to Australia, doubtless intent on impressing his goal kicking abilities to the Aborigines. Finally, Ceri Critten, plagued by injury, hung up his boots to take over as Chairman.
PLYMOUTH ARGAUM RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
2nd XV 1983 - 84
Season 1984 - 85
Hooker Wiggy Bennett Captain. In a not particularly successful playing season, the industry of the Hon. Sec. Revealed that Centre Ian Collier collected 99 points (2 tries) Brian Willcocks 8 tries, Nick Hall 7 tries plus a conversion and Tim Rapier 6 tries. The seasonís record 10 wins and 23 defeats, of which perhaps the most evenly contested was a 20-22 defeat versus Honiton - which Timothy Denne dropped three goals, kicked a penalty and converted one of two tries; Argaum replying with 4 tries and 2 conversions. For the Wanderers, captain and stand off Paddy Gillespie collected 98 points - all from the boot, the team winning 15 and losing 11 in 28 games. The Drifters managed 22 fixtures and the Sunday XV 10. The Colts won 14 and lost 14, Heale picking up 98 points and Evans 68. In the Colts cup competition, they were a little unfortunate to go out to Paignton Colts 6-6, who went through on the Away team basis. As a result of the inauguration by Devon RFU, Argaum had for several seasons appeared in the Devon "B" Merit table , where with remarkable consistency, they managed to finish in 6th or 7th place in a field of 10. A happy re-recruitment was the reappearance of Dave Sharpe, having presumably instilled the elements of successful goal kicking down under. To emphasise the playing strength, the Drifters, in their game against Victoria, sportingly loaned Victoria 4 players, but despite a second half recovery in which Dave Sharpe converted a try and put over a penalty, their generosity was ill rewarded, 9-16. An interesting fixture had been inaugurated by the Club - Over 30ís v Under 30ís and it is suspected, several of the senior players were happy to appear under the anonymity of "Over 30". The Over 30ís included Brian Willcocks, Dave Sharpe, Mike Worth, Peter (Ever) Green and Geoff Baskerville to mention a few of those to mention a few of those who continued to serve the Club loyally and successfully. An interesting acquisition for the Drifters against Newport High School Old Boys, was the Chairman of the Selection Committee Bill Hitchins, who subsequently admitted to having last appeared for the Colts against Devon Colts in the 75th anniversary but modestly refrained from claiming a place in the over 30ís side. Incidentally, the Drifters won a pleasant game 14-8.
Sadly, the death of George Wakeham occurred in December. He played for the Club in the 1920s and from there re-formed the OPMs side. He went on to become President of Plymouth Albion, President of the Devon RFU and Divisional England Selector.
Season 1985 - 86
Ian Collier a centre whose boot had stood the Club in good stead the previous year was captain, opening the season - unhappily - with a heavy 3-49 defeat by Truro. There followed a modest run of success in September. Two - somewhat rash - incursions into Cornwall resulted in heavy defeats, Penryn 1st XV unbeaten at home 6-43 and St Ives who put on 49 points. There were also heavy defeats by Ivybridge - twice, and Newquay II achieved the double. South Molton - for once - destroyed the Club's hopes in the Devon Cup and Exeter Saracens, the away side, ended Havill Plate hopes 3-3. On the more cheerful side, Exeter University Freshmen were beaten 36-3 and Bideford II 64-4, giving a seasons record of 10 wins and 23 defeats. The Wanderers, captained by K Daymount, won 15, lost 11 and drew 2. The Drifters achieved 22 Saturday fixtures, winning 9, including a crushing 71-7 win over Plympton II. There were also a fair number of Sunday fixtures, results alas, not recorded. The Colts won 14, lost 14 and drew 2. To prove that Saturday, or in this particular case more usually Sunday talents were not in vain, was the presentation of the Devon Chief Constable's award to Argaum player Steve Parkinson, the report reading "... felled a fleeing criminal with a crushing rugby tackle outside his hair-dressing salon in the City centre" - clearly an extension of Steve's Sunday activities; and, just to prove that there were other interests outside of rugby, at midnight on 16th November 1985 a team of 11 runners from Plymouth Argaum and Fine Tubes ran from Clifton Suspension Bridge to the Tamar Bridge arriving 3.15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Jeff Bawden, Mark Busford, Bob Cassidy, Tommy Cooper, Dave England, Chris Goodman, Tim Rapier and Peter Green running the "legs" for Argaum. The result - a splendid cheque for £180 handed over to the Scott Hospital for the Bickleigh Childrenís Unit.
Season 1986 - 87
Hooker Wiggy Bennett, re-assumed the captaincy. Events almost completed a full circle. The OPMs club, which had been re-formed by George Wakeham, from the Argaum club in the 1920s, were experiencing extreme difficulties with their clubhouse and ground, in so far as they were forced to abandon both. Argaum offered them refuge at Bickleigh Down, which the Old Boys were happy to accept, continuing of course, as a completely separate Club - George would have approved! Unfortunately, the Old Boys 1st XV did not survive the "transplant" long, as following a run of massive defeats, they called it a season save for their second side by the end of October.
It would have been gratifying to be able to report - in the Clubís centenary year - that their playing record matched the occasion. However, a more realistic comparison would be to the proverbial curateís egg - borne out by the Clubís position in the Devon Merit "B" Table - precisely halfway of ten clubs. "Wiggy" Bennett, captain once again supported by Dave England, Roger Tinson when available and veterans Brian Willcocks and Mike Worth - the latter reclaiming the centre three quarter position for his own early in the season.
On the credit side the Club reached the final of the Devon Havill Plate as a result of a good 10-3 win at Kingsbridge in the semi final but, like their predecessors of some years earlier, failing in the final - this time at home to Tavistock 0-10. There were comfortable wins over Salcombe (twice) and a run away 37-0 over Newquay Hornets II XV in a season when the Cornish Senior side finished top of their County merit table. Closer wins over Honiton, Totnes and Ilfracombe and a 10-10 draw at South Molton. For the final fixture of the season 19-16 v Old Richians (Gloucester) Peter Heal provided all the home points - 4 tries plus a penalty.
On the debit side, narrow defeats at the hands of Plymouth Albion Extras, Bodmin and Penryn II, whilst Saltash and Ivybridge (shades of 1903) both completed the double over the Club, the latter - eventual winners of the Devon B merit table - by wide margins. In the return game Ivybridgeís account was opened by Nick Hall - a previous prolific scorer for Argaum - thereafter he was obliged to retire from the match through injury, leaving his replacement to carry on where he left off.
The Wanderers side for the opening game against Plympton contained - as selected - no less than six previous club captains Geoff Baskerville being the captain of the captains. It may be as well to record that the captainsí experience won the day 18-0. The seasonís overall results appeared to swing from emphatic victories to equally emphatic defeats, presumably owing to the varying strengths of the opposition.
The Drifters maintained a side - with fair success - until well into the New Year, when a series of cancellations and suitable substitute opposition being hard to come by, the team faded away.
Sadly - after some 30 seasons - the Colts, due to lack of numbers, were unable to meet their fixtures, the list being cancelled at the start of the season. However, the situation seems not without hope, thanks to the strenuous efforts of Dave Osborne who, on more than one occasion managed to put together an Argaum "under 16" team, with one particularly close run game against Ivybridge under 15 on their ground, resulting in a win for the town side by a score of 5 tries and 2 conversions to Argaumís reply of 4 tries and one conversion.
In the Club's 101st season, the senior side will be appearing in Devon Division 1 of the Rugby Football Unionís league system and will need to strive to maintain its position there.
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