Everybody at Ampthill & District Community Rugby Club was saddened to learn this week that Norman Brown had passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and close friends.
The below is an extract from the soon to be published sports almanac, “From Tanqueray to Lavery – The History of Ampthill & District Rugby Club” by Mike Plant.
Norman Brown was educated at Haberdashers Askes Public School in Elstree, Hertfordshire and served as a rear gunner in Lancaster bombers during the war. Norman started his senior rugby career in 1946 playing prop for the Old Haberdashers Rugby Club, when London Old Boys’ Clubs were a force in club rugby. Haberdashers played teams such as Plymouth Albion, Saracens and London Irish.
He married and moved to Ampthill in 1949, taking up a position at Wrest Park, the home to the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering, later the Silsoe Research Institute. Norman played rugby for Bedford, where he played in the Wanderers with Fred Thistlethwaite, and was friendly with a youthful Richard Churchill, then fly-half in the 1st XV. He was invited to join the new Ampthill Rugby Club and played in the first season, first appearing at tight-head prop against Bedford Swifts on 2nd December 1950, the eighth game of that first season (a win for Ampthill by 14pts. to nil). Norman was elected as Club Captain in his second season a position he retained for a further eight years.
Norman Brown was Club Chairman from 1962-1970, and President from 2002-2004. He was made a Life Member in 1960. In 1985, he was elected as the Bedfordshire representative to the East Midlands Rugby Union. For many years he was responsible for the coaching set-up at East Midlands. Norman was East Midland’s President in 1993-94 and was made a Life-Member the following year. He served on the Mobbs Memorial Organising Committee for eight years and also became the Press and PR Officer for East Midlands RFU.
Following the success of the Mini Rugby and to provide continuity for the young players, Norman was asked to form a Youth Section in 1980. Starting at under 13 level and expanding year on year by 1983 the Ampthill Club were able to offer teams, coaching and matches at every level from under 7 to under 17 age groups.
At the AGM at the end of season 1959-60, M.P. Turvey, then Honorary Secretary stated: “There are many details missing from this report that probably deserve mention, but one which cannot be forgotten is the retirement of Norman Brown, our Captain, who has seen this Club through its apprenticeship and now feels he must hang up his boots. It is not proposed to write an obituary, but I feel that it should be recorded here, in the report of his last season playing with the club, that the name of Norman Brown will be remembered with reverence as long as rugby union football is played in Ampthill.”
Norman Brown was elected as an Honorary Life Member at the AGM on 13th May 1960.
The Station Road ground in 1952. Next to the Radar Hut is Harry Taylor, Norman Brown (Captain), John Wallace, and Eddie McDonald (Mac) – captain 1950-51.