Graham’s successful match breathes new life into Dereham Rugby Club

Former players who turned out for Dereham in the 1970s and 80s were among more that 100 people who s

Former players who turned out for Dereham in the 1970s and 80s were among more that 100 people who saw the Presidents XV beat Dereham on Saturday. Picture: TMS Media - Credit: Archant

It was a day when the score mattered less than the level of support and spirit of optimism on show for a much-cherished rugby club.

More than 100 people turned up for Saturday's match between Dereham and a President's XV - a good-natured and entertaining game that finished in a 39-34 win for club president Graham Eaglesham's invitation side.

The match attracted the biggest touchline support of the season after a rallying cry went out the week before to secure the future of the club, which had to withdraw from its league this year after struggling to field a regular team.

Publicity and social media was used to encourage past and present supporters, potential new players and local rugby fans who had never set foot in the clubhouse to come along and help breathe new life into the club, which was founded in 1974.

Among those who pitched up were a handful of players, now in their sixties and seventies, who played in its first few seasons. These included Clive Scrivens, Jeff Cole, Steve Scott, Steve Read, Harry Mayhew, Dave Basketts and Phil Goreham.

'Dereham has had its highs and lows on the field but it is has always been an outstanding social club,' said founder member Steve Scott. 'In the 1970s it was at the heart of the social lives of the players and their families, and by tapping into the energy and enthusiasm that has been shown today by so many people today, the club will hopefully rekindle that spirit of fun and camaraderie that players of my generation remember so fondly.'

Eaglesham said publicity surrounding Dereham's plight had resulted in new players joining for next season and existing players committing themselves for the new campaign.

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'There is a real feeling of optimism and I believe Dereham will be rejuvenated both on the field and in the clubhouse as new players don the shirt and more people get involved in the administration and social life of this fantastic club,' he said.

He was one of three father-and-son pairings on the field on Saturday, turning out for his own team at the age of 62 with his 28-year-old son Duncan. Brendan Casey, who at 67 was the oldest man on the pitch, played alongside his son Pat, aged 28. Dereham's first XV captain Les Moon, 40, saw his son Jack score a try from the wing.