1stXV V Plymouth Albion, Sat Apr 02, Match Preview
Ampthill welcome Plymouth Albion this weekend for their first ever visit to Dillingham Park, though not to Bedfordshire, as Bedford Blues ‘just up the road’ Goldington Road home was an annual stop for many Championship years.
Plymouth Albion were formed in 1876 by a group of apprentices from the Royal Naval Dockyard in Devonport and played in Devonport Park. In 1887 the club moved to Bladderly, where spectators paid three times as much (3d) to watch as players to play (1d or a touch less than 1/2p)!
During the 1894 season Plymouth Albion played at Home Park, now the home of Plymouth Argyle, and then moved to Rectory Fields, where they hosted the first touring All Blacks team in 1905.
The Great War intervened with both Albion and local rivals Plymouth RFC losing their grounds to the war effort and many of their players to the conflict leading to a merger 1919 to form Plymouth Albion RFC and a new home at Beacon Park.
The following decades saw Albion achieve much success before being placed in Courage 3 when the league system was introduced in the ’80s. However, by the end of the 1998-99 season, the Club’s on field fortune had declined, only a last day of the season away win preventing relegation from the National Leagues.
In 1999 Graham Dawe was appointed Chairman of Rugby and oversaw a period of unprecedented success with eventual promotion to National One (now the Championship) in 2001-02, a status retained for 13 seasons until relegation at the end of last year, 2014-15 with Graham Dawe returning as Director of Rugby in 2015.
This season, with a new and much younger squad Albion started slowly but have recently been one of the form teams in National 1 and now have a played 25 won 18 record to lie 3rd in the table, just 1 point and 1 place ahead of our 1stXV.
At the Richmond Athletic Ground a fortnight ago Ampthill Director of Rugby Mark Lavery’s comment “To come to the home of the dominant league leaders and be disappointed with a draw” illustrates just how far a journey Ampthill have travelled this season, the clubs first at level 3.
Having recently beaten 2nd placed Hatpury and drawn with leaders Richmond Amps look forward to facing another top three opponent. With just six games to play A’s have exceeded the expectations of even their most ardent supporter!