Rugby at Northern Football Club

Northern Football Club was founded in 1875.

It was originally called Elswick Football Club but was renamed in it's second season changing colours to red white and blue which are still the colours to this day. Northern originally played at Mill Inn, Westgate and moved to a number of different sites including the Town Moor. A period of 60 years passed without a 'home ground'. In October 1937, McCracken Park was officially opened by Ald. G. B. Bainbridge. It was named after the then Club President Angus McCracken. In 1956, an addition to the clubhouse was made when to squash courts were built and in 1961, a cocktail bar was added. Squash became so successful that a third squash court was added in 1974.

On December 18th 1994, the present clubhouse was opened at a cost of £1 million. It included a fourth glass-back squash court, a new members bar and a functions bar.


Beginnings - The History of Northern Football Club


Northern Football Club was founded in 1875 and is the oldest Rugby Football Club in Newcastle upon Tyne.
It has operated at McCracken Park, it's present home, since the ground was purchased and a clubhouse with four pitches was opened in 1937.


The club would regularly put out six teams plus a colts and a veterans side, and often found it necessary to make use of pitches available at the nearby Gosforth Park race course as a supplementary playing venue.
During the seventies and early eighties the original clubhouse buildings were showing signs of serious decay and were in need of a major overall. At this time player strength had begun to dwindle though the club could still boast six regular teams and a healthy social membership. Indeed Northern FC became synonymous with good hospitality, late night singing and revelry. Indeed being based on the A1 trunk road through Newcastle meant that rarely would a team or a rugby playing individual pass the clubhouse, on their way to and from rugby venues north or south, without paying their respects. In particular many would seek out Sargent Stobbart, David Davies and the legendary Brindle Montgomery. Brindle without much in the way of encouragement would often get out his fiddle and give rendition to "The Northern Song", "Cushy Butterfield" and the full 'adulterated' version of "Eskimo Nell".
The clubhouse held many memories in the folklore of north east rugby but, by selling off one of the pitches to raise capital (three pitches would still accommodate 6 teams), the building was demolished in 1994 and a new £1.2 million clubhouse built and opened in 1995, by the President of the Rugby Football Union, Dennis Easby.
Northern Football Club has been a well-respected and well-known club throughout the rugby world and has produced 18 internationals in its 125-year history as well as Presidents of the Rugby Football Union and the Scottish Rugby Union.


Over one hundred years ago, the then Northern FC and RFU President, William Cail, was instrumental in managing the successful split between the RFU and the Northern Union, (later to become the Rugby Football League).
The last player capped from Northern was Feidlim McLoughlin, when he was selected to play for Ireland in 1977. 
However several have recently played at Northern on their way to becoming an international and, have subsequently made a considerable contribution on the international scene, they include Jonathan Webb, Brian Keen, David Rees and Colin White for England, Scott Hastings and Jim Pollock for Scotland and Hennie le Roux for South Africa.


As well as a host of 'B' internationals, most recently Alistair Tindle and Graham Childs of England. 
John Elders, a Northern player and coach also coached England in the 1970s and was the first coach to take an England side to South Africa and win a test match! Northern has, in many respects been something of a 'sleeping giant' in the rugby sense and of course, during the 1970s and early 80s lived in the shadow of their highly successful near neighbours and 'olde enemy', Gosforth RFC. Many argue that when Gosforth sold up their ground from literally the other side of the A1, the two clubs should have pursued an amalgamation. This was not to be and instead Gosforth bought land at Kingston Park, which ultimately became the home of Newcastle Falcons.
The rivalry between Northern and Gosforth in the end prevented an amicable agreement being made, but who really knows whether that may have been the right decision, there are however many who have gazed into their crystal ball and still no real consensus can be reached, particularly given all that has happened to rugby in the last 10 years!

 

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