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Pitchero Club

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Club History

Back in 1989, after seeing four lads, alleged to have been Angus Milgate, George Worth, Martin Blackmore and Roger Newton, kicking a rugby ball about the island's Glebe, Melvyn Smart and Graham 'Postie' Woods vowed to start a rugby club on the island.

Melvyn and Graham used all their resources to scrape a team together, borrowed a set of shirts and set off to play Colchester 's lowest side, ending up with a 49-point defeat.

Undeterred they persevered and came up with a brain-wave, enlisting the help of former London and Wasps rugby player and islander, the immortal Don Bland.

Don gave the project his 100 per cent backing and commitment, rallying the troops. In May of 1989, at a meeting held in the back room of the Dog and Pheasant, Mersea Island Rugby Football Club was formed with Don Bland installed as Chairman and President.

With the help of sponsors, Island Landscapes and Knight Contractors, plus some very generous Vice President donations, a set of shirts and posts were purchased. Fixtures were then arranged for the 1989/1990 season.

All the matches played in the early years were friendlies and once again Colchester were to be the first opponents.

A team led by Frank Hart containing some evergreen characters, including a second row pairing of Graham Woods and John Gradwell, prop Melvyn Smart and a back row containing Nigel Rodwell, Simon Bland and Graham Marfleet, were narrowly defeated by 4 points to nil.

Mersea recorded the Club's first victory on the 9th September 1989 with a 48-0 win at Maldon. The season concluded with 17 wins and 2 draws from 30 games.

The Islanders have since gone from strength to strength, with an enviable promotion record, moving through Eastern Counties Division 5 in 1993/94, Eastern Counties Division 4 in 1995/96, Eastern Counties Division 3 in 1996/97, Eastern Counties Division 2 in 1999/2000.

In the season 2000/2001 Mersea finished 4th in Eastern Counties 1. Ironically, Mersea defeated Colchester (the Club that had been so supportive in helping them get established) twice in their first ever league encounters and indeed played at a higher level than their old adversary for the first time in 2001/2002.

Mersea Island RFC is based nine miles south of Colchester and currently plays in London Division IV North East.

Don Bland, since sadly deceased, would be immensely proud not only of the club's achievements but the friendly atmosphere and good spirit that are an inherent part of the club.

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