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Old Farts Babble

Old Farts Babble

Amy Kemmett15 May - 21:15
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As the season comes to a close, an Old Fart shares his thoughts.

Vernon Jones & Mr Somebody

I want to tell you about Vernon Jones. Long forgotten maybe, but his name is on the honours board in the clubhouse and will only be recognisable to a very small number of older members who were around in the 60s, but his legacy and that of many others, lives on.

I’m only aware of him because we were recently contacted by his daughter who simply asked if we had any pictures of her dad in his playing days at OCRFC, as she wanted to surprise him on his forthcoming 80th birthday. As my spare room is currently full of old club pictures, shirts and other paraphernalia this was obviously one for me to sort. I was of course happy to help and finding a picture of him wasn’t difficult.

But whilst looking I learnt that he went to Crypt School and joined the club as a 17-year-old in 1961and remained until 1970. I then found all his playing stats, and these showed that he’d played 212 games and scored 48 tries with a career total of 166 points. He also captained the 2nd team in 69/70 and led the side 37 times in that season. Yes 37 times!

In other documentation, I found out that he was often involved in club activities, raising money by selling football cards and tackling jobs that needed to be done. He was instrumental in the move to the clubs first permanent home at the Memorial ground and then, as he was a building surveyor by trade, he became the principal assistant in the building of the clubhouse we know today.

Obviously, Vernon was a good clubman, but he could never had contemplated the lasting impact and legacy he would leave as he wouldn’t have given it a second thought. He told me that he loved his time at Crypts and building the clubhouse was satisfying with the simple brief of two changing rooms, one toilet, a bath and a bar and was a fitting way to end his time at the club before he moved away.

It’s been 54 years since he was last at the club and today, we can look back on the generations of people who have had the opportunity to play rugby, all because of the dedication and vision of people like him. We should be eternally grateful.

The question you might be asking now, is did we respond to his daughter? We did and we sent him a letter which was read out at his party, some pictures of his time at OCRFC and how it is now, his playing record and a birthday card. We also realised, due to the meticulous record keeping of the time, that he was never presented with his ‘200’ Tie as he moved away before it could be given it, so even though it was over 50 years late, we sent him that as well.

So apart from it being a nice story, why do I tell you all this? Well, back then and much like today, there were dedicated people working hard to ensure the clubs future. They maintained the club and grounds, dealt with whatever needing dealing with and crucially they recorded it with pictures, photos and written works such as the 50th and 75th anniversary books. If they hadn’t, I could never had told you about him and what he did.

But really, I tell you this story because it serves as an important reminder of the importance of volunteering, and if you’ve ever thought about getting more involved in the club, then frankly now’s the time. The AGM is fast approaching and as you know this is where we decide who will cover the many roles, from the Chairman and President all the way the way down to the dedicated unseen, such as the cleaner, the groundsman and that bloke who puts out the flags. Not forgetting everyone in between.

But the dedicated people back in Vernon’s time were relatively far more in number than today and back then you could expect competition at the AGM for roles within the club. What we see today is a shortage of people willing to help run a progressive club suffering with increased requirements placed on it. These come partly from our own success and size but also from various bodies such as health & safety, safeguarding and the RFU to name but a few. All of which means more work for a Mr Somebody.

To be fair, the committee and others have been out searching for Mr Somebody for a while, in the hope that he’d be willing to help, but they have no idea where he is. Some say he’s hardly been seen since covid whilst others say he’s just disappeared. Perhaps he’s busy, maybe he works away or maybe he’s just not interested. But given we have difficulty in filling the few ‘paid’ roles we have, I wonder if he exists at all.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you found some inspiration in Vernon’s story and you thought to yourself, I’m up for something. There are countless small things that always need doing and require nothing more than a willing attitude and a small amount of your time. On the other hand, you might think you’re up for something a little more challenging, something that may even ensure your story could be told one day.

So, I’m not saying that you should be a club captain, build an extension to the club or be another Doug Perks or Dave Reeves, or indeed one of the many other countless Vernon’s this club has been lucky to have, but as the saying goes ‘every little helps’, and as for who this Mr Somebody is, well it could be you, and if you think you can help then get in touch.

Like the game we all love, it’s a team effort.

So we’ll see you there then?



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