The first official match under the new floodlights at Belper’s Strutt’s Field ground was a nostalgic invitation event set up by club president, Simon Blount.
About 55 players, past and present, took part in the game, which was between an over-35s’ side and an under-35s’ team. Many dug out their boots for their first run-out for some time, while others said it was the first time they had ever played under lights.
The result was a terrific evening of entertaining rugby for players, spectators and sponsors alike, complete with a buoyant atmosphere in the clubhouse.
Among the spectators was the deputy mayor of Belper Town Council, Councillor Gary Spendlove, who was also on hand to switch the lights off at the end of the match.
Coun Spendlove said: “I’m delighted that, over the years, the club has made the most of Strutt’s Field, which has developed into an excellent sports ground. I’m very impressed to hear how many adults and children are involved in rugby here, and the facilities are a testament to the incredible hard work and community spirit that is demonstrated by the whole club.”
During the evening, one of the sponsors, Mike Dyer, of Chesterfield-based company UMG, presented a cheque for £250 to club treasurer Brian Smith, who said: “We are very grateful to Mike and all our sponsors. We have more to do at the club, and our sponsors are a big part of our development plans.”
As for the match itself, the ages of the players ranged from 17 to 62, with the youngest being Chaz French and the oldest, Mick Laven, who was one of three brothers taking part, alongside Andy and Tony Laven.
The first half was full of fast-flowing, exciting and expansive rugby, with Sam Chalkin and Gaz Dakin each scoring two tries. In the second half, experience replaced youth, and prop legend Wayne Greenlaven was among the scorers as the game somehow finished in a draw.
Meanwhile the serious matter of the club needing to improve their position in the Midlands 3 East (North) division was the focus of attention last Saturday when Belper enjoyed an emphatic 68-13 victory over Boston.