The Isle of Wight Rugby Football Club’s early records have disappeared in the mists of time but fortunately the memories of … older members are of greater durability. It all began at Ryde in 1924 when Captain J.R. Mason, a retired army officer and great enthusiast for the game brought the Club into existence. He was, by all accounts a forceful character and ran the Club virtually single-handed … although valuable help was given by Captain Johnstone the headmaster of Apply School, and Mr. Mayes who was the first proper Club Captain.
The first ground was at Westridge Cross, Ryde and the first opponents were Fareham, now known as Gosport and Fareham. The club played in red shirts with a gold band … Even in those days however, the nomadic streak in the club was evident and a good deal of wandering between one ground and another ended in 1928 at Nine Acres Recreation Ground, Newport. This was to be the first of many visits the Club were to pay to this venue but in 1938 there was the added bonus of changing rooms at the local pub.
It was at this stage (1928) that Captain Mason finally decided that he had had enough of his single-handed struggle to run the club and withdrew from the organisation, a move that in turn brought about the first lapse in the clubs history.
The exact date of revival is uncertain but it seam likely that it was in 1930/31 that a John Lord came from the north of England as a member of A.V.Roe Ltd. John Lord called a meeting of former members and interested parties in Newport and brought the club back into life. The side commenced play again at Somerton Aerodrome, Cowes now the home of Plessey Radar Ltd using old railway carriages for changing accommodation … Two years here was the limit and increasing demands of aircraft took precedence over Rugby so the club moved again, this time to Whippingham were the players changed in an old sanatorium …
The Nineteen Thirties:
For the first two years of the revival John Lord Captained the side but at the same time as the move to Whippingham an injury brought an end to his playing career and Howard Harvey took over for a five-year run as Captain. Bill Newnham took over as secretary, a position he was to hold up to the war years and new players included Wally and Charlie Peters. Round about 1935 the club moved again, staying in East Cowes but playing at Osborne until the war years brought the curtain down for a while.
During the 1930’s the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Newport was used as the clubs unofficial headquarters with many a lively evening, forged by the then characters of the club, such as the stunt pilot that played on the wing, a one armed “Hells Angel”, Rodger Dickson, designer of a well know glider but handicapped on the field by sever deafness, test pilot Pat Hornidge, later to establish a world endurance record in a Meteor and George Thompson, David Milne and John Sizer from the Blackburn Aircraft company. Bill Eldridge and Arthur Rowland came into the picture and the team was lead by A. Foudry, succeeding Howard Harvey up to the war years. These were also the days before the Referees society and the Club owed a great deal to the Vicar of Carisbrooke, the Rev. Ewbank, and Bill Newnham for their ever willing assistance.
The war brought a long break in the history of the club but after the end of the war Arthur Rowland had a big hand in raising money for a memorial to the players who did not return, A commemorative plaque can be seen today at Gatcombe Church and the congregation there owe their heating system to this fund.
Post War Years:
The revival of the club came about in 1950 when a public meeting, held in September of that year at Ryde Aero Club, backed up the actions of the small group of enthusiasts who had negotiated the use of the pitch at Ryde Airport, the use of Ryde Aero Club as headquarters and the taking over of fixtures, shirts, goalposts etc. from the disbanding Saunders Roe Club. …..”