The 17th Man
By Peter Osborn (OC 1947–1953)
In 1965, the Old Cats Rugby Club joined together with the Whiteoaks Cricket Club (which had many OC players) as they, like us, had no club house. The arrangement was simple: they looked after the place in the summer months, and we looked after it in the winter months. When we changed over, we would play each other at the others’ sport; I can remember once, whilst taking my dog for a walk, being called in to strengthen the rugby team as the seventeenth man in!
The clubhouse itself came from the army barracks in nearby Aldershot. We took various trips down to Aldershot to dismantle a Nissen hut which was transported to Park Avenue, courtesy of a club member. Armed with cement, nails, and hammers, we started to assemble what, at the time, seemed a massive building for what we had in mind. The metal cross girders, too large for one person to handle, were moved into place by a three-ton crane and driver, who did a wonderful job helping us to construct the skeleton of our new club house in time for the forthcoming season.
Having now got a clubhouse, our next priority (aside from building a bar!), was to create a stone-free pitch, which meant spending many hours on our hands and knees removing stones by hand. To see what it is now in the place of the old building is unbelievable – well done to all those involved!