Ilkley RUFC were founded in 1899 but the earliest records of rugby in Ilkley go back to the early 1870s and on March 25 1875 the Ilkley Gazette published a description of the game we now know as rugby union.
Another article of August 1873 headed ‘Ilkley FC’ asks for ‘gentlemen interested in the above are invited to attend a meeting at the New Inn’.
The Yorkshire County RFU records show that G. Baldwin of the Ilkley club played for Yorkshire against Durham on December 6 1873.
Various other records show that rugby union was played in Ilkley prior to 1899 and there are also references to Ilkley Olicana Rugby Club as late as March 4 1899.
What is certain is that Ilkley RUFC as we now know it played their first match on November 18 1899 in a home fixture against Batley Casuals which Batley won by ‘One dropped goal and two tries to nil’ (10-0 at the time of playing).
The second game was also at home and Ilkley beat Burley by ‘two tries to one’ (6-3). Since then rugby union has been played continually in Ilkley with the exception of both World War years.
After playing at various locations in and around Ilkley the club moved to its present Stacks Field Ground for its first game on February 21 1920 when visitors Otley beat Ilkley 6-0 in front of 6000 spectators.
The splendid facilities now seen at Stacks Field were opened in August 2011.
When Hull RUFC were formed in 1992 Ilkley were playing their league rugby in Yorkshire Division One and they stayed there for several years before winning promotion to the old North Two East in season 2008-09 but their stay at the higher level was very brief and they were relegated back the following season.
In season 2013-14 they won the Yorkshire Shield for the first time and also won promotion to North One East.
This time their stay was also very brief but for different reasons, they won promotion into National Three North, which was when our own history with Ilkley began.
Since then we have played Ilkley RUFC on the following occasions;
2015-16 – National Three North
26/9/15 – Hull 46 – Ilkley21
28/11/15 – Ilkley 20 – Hull 6 (Yorkshire Cup round 2)
!2/3/16 – Ilkley 14 – Hull 18
2016 – 17 – National Three North
17/9/16 – Ilkley 31 – Hull 8
17/12/16 – Hull 38 – Ilkley 3
This season Ilkley have won four and lost five of their league games and are eighth in the table with 22 points.
On the road they have beaten Morley 24-25 and Billingham 30-29. They have lost to Sandal 37-14, Pocklington 22-20 and Wirral 18-15.
Last Saturday they entertained Preston Grasshoppers and put up a tremendous display, leading 17-5 at half-time, before losing to a last minute try from Hoppers (in the eleventh minute of fourteen minutes of added time) which won the Lancashire side the game 29-24.
As in last week’s win over Wirral, our side will have to be on top form against our West Riding visitors.
Compiled by Norman Angell.