Darlington Mowden Park – History Lesson

The club emerged in the post World War 2 period and was constituted in 1950 as Darlington Grammar School Old Boys.

In 1970–71 the Old Boys, with growing numbers of players and supporters, decided to buy land and build their own clubhouse and pitches. Mowden was chosen to be the new official home of the rapidly growing Old Boys club. It was deemed appropriate, not least because the club was no longer an “Old Boys Club”, to change its name to Mowden Park RFC.

In the 1990s and 2000s Mowden Park (DMPRFC) experienced great success.[citation needed] Mowden rapidly went through the league system until they reached National Three North (now National league Two North), in which they spent many years. Mowden also had several years of excellent Tetley Bitter Cup runs. The Tetley Bitter Cup, the old LV Cup, included every English Rugby Union club. In 2000, while in the old North East 1, Mowden reached the 5th round (quarter-finals) of the Tetley Bitter cup after beating the prestigious London club Rosslyn Park in the 4th round in front of a home crowd of around 2,000+. In the fifth round they faced premiership opponents in the form of Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop. The following years also saw further adventures in the National Cup. In 2001 Mowden once again defied league position and reached the 4th round of cup, only to narrowly lose to Birmingham & Solihull who, at the time, were in Allied-Dunbar Premiership 2. In 2002 they, once again, managed to get to the 4th round, only to narrowly lose at home to Manchester, who were in the old Allied Dunbar Premiership 2. Mowden ‘legends’ of this era included the likes of Tuihana, Keeligan, Brown, Lowe, Irwin, Mckinnon, Sinclair, Oliphant, Mitchell, Sanderson, Kent and Mattison. A newer cohort of legends include the Connon brothers, Zylon McGaffin, Alan ‘Swags’ Jones, Chris ‘China’ Peace, and Josh Waldin – who was later bestowed the honour of best looking man to ever play for the North East club.

Players in the upper echelons of the game to have graced Yiewlsey Drive and worn the Mowden Shirt, if but for a few games, include Toby Flood (England) and Craig Newby (New Zealand All Blacks) (both Leicester Tigers RFC), Alex Tait (Newcastle Falcons RFC), Peter Browne (Harlequins RFC), Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints RFC), Tim Visser (Edinburgh RFC + Scotland) and Richard Arnold (Newcastle Falcons RFC). Epi Taione (Newcastle, Sale Sharks and Racing Metro) put in some social appearances for the club. The club has also had mini and juniors go on to play in the Guinness Premiership – Ross Batty (Bath Rugby), Tom Catterick (Newcastle Falcons) and Alex Gray (London Irish). These lads also have represented England  and will hopefully go on to gain full caps.

They played in National League 2 North in the 2013–14 season. Having finished as runners-up,[2] they qualified for the promotion playoff against 2013–14 National League 2 South runners-up, Ampthill.[3] The game was played on 3 May 2014 at the Northern Echo Arena. The game finished 25–25 after normal time, so went to two 10-minute periods of extra time. The game was won with a try scored in the 3rd minute of added on time. As a result, they will play in National League 1 in the 2014–15 season, the highest league Darlington Mowden Park R.F.C. have reached in their history.

Darlington have retained their place in National One to this day and are presently in 11th position with a playing record of P17 W5 D0 L12 F421 A456 BPs16 Pts 36. Last Saturday they entertained league leaders RAMS and were beaten 43-21.

In the corresponding match at the Ferens Ground on September 12th they defeated Hull by 29-22 after a very close game.

Norman Angell.

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