The post-war era

The Second World War changed all this. Although the casualties were not as severe as in 1914-18, both the OP’s 1st XV half-backs, Ronnie Treble and Eric Jones were killed, the latter, a fine stand-off who played for Surrey and was the uncle of the later Club Captain Brian M Jones who turned out over 400 times for the 1st XV. After the war, the Paulines, like many other sporting clubs found it impossible to raise a side from their own resources and joined forces with their neighbours the Old Cranleighans for one season. The OPs made a quick recovery and, in 1946-47, were unbeaten by any other old boys’ side.

At this time the OPs were playing very fine football, numbering among other successes two wins over Gloucester. In 1951/52 Bath, now unquestionably one of the strongest sides in the country, were defeated 8-5 at Thames Ditton.

Notable players at this period were AGC Jones, a regular member of the Army and Combined Services sides. He played for London and, with A.Q. Bell, was in the Middlesex team which won the County Championship in 1952. Both these players were prop forwards and the Pauline pack which also included HO Barrett who played for Surrey was very hard to beat. Peter Howard, the OP full back, also played many games for Surrey.

A comparatively lean period followed and U.A. Titley, that doyen of The Times and of rugby football correspondents, aptly summed up the Club’s ethos in December, 1959 after watching a game between the Old Alleynians and Old Paulines when he wrote: “Not for this type of club a bulging bank balance, nor for its teams the glamour of playing before vast crowds. They play because they enjoy doing so, which is the best of all reasons for playing Rugby, and the kingpin of the whole structure of the game. For eighty minutes only, old friends become enemies in a physically competitive way, and the restorative mutual conviviality afterwards is all the healthier for it, since in such circumstances a pint of beer is much more than the mere quencher of a well-earned thirst.”

In 1960, the advent of Paul Wheeler from Cambridge University, a fine athlete and Club Captain, again put the OP’s in their proper place amongst the leading old boys’ clubs with some of his school contemporaries including DRJ Bird, a triple Cambridge Blue; REM Freeman from the RAF and Dr JL Bienenstock. In the same year, AB Barter, a former 1st XV player of considerable experience, led a “B”XV side which won every match except two, one of which was drawn, and scored over 600 points, a record for the Club.

The outstanding player of this later period is, of course, Peter Stagg, the giant 6’-10” (2.08 m) lock who toured South Africa with the British Lion in 1968 and who won full 28 Caps for Scotland between 1965 and 1970. Between ‘Blues’ at Oxford and going to work in the north, where he played for Sale, he played all his football for the OPs.

Dick Withers Green took over the Captaincy from 1967/68 to ’72/73 and was Chairman from 1979 to ’88. His tremendous enthusiasm for the game did much to keep the Old Paulines in the top flight of old boys’ clubs. 1967/68 was the most successful year of the sixties with 17 of the 33 games that season being won. Richard Cunis, a powerful, fast and skilled wing scored 22 of the 77 tries and went on to play for Rosslyn Park and for the Surrey XV which won the County Championship at Gloucester in 1971. Before injury one February, he was the season’s second highest try scorer in first class rugby.

In the 1970s and ’80s Tony Boardman, Mike Green and Peter Baker all topped 400 1st XV appearances and Baker, Captain in 1973/75, scored 155 tries from No 8 – allegedly also without totalling more than 155 yards! Rob Tapsfield’s trusty boot and elusive tries from fly-half helped him to all the Club’s post-war records for both kicking and for1473 points.

Based on a famous front row, the club reached a pinnacle in 1987 when the CLOB Merit Table was won, just before the advent of Courage Leagues.

Withers Green was duly and ably followed as Captain and Chairman by Nick Carr who has a fearsome club record of 565 1st XV games, mostly at tight-head. His most recent appearance was this season aged 47 as a 10-minute Replacement (after completing a ‘B’ XV game!).

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