Fri 27 Sep 2019 06:56

This Saturday the Blood and Sand head North to Rotherham while the Wanderers head to Ampthill.

Rotherham is of course situated on the River Don. Albeit at the mouth of the river Rother which flows North from the Peak District into the Don.

The town is home to Boston castle. Named not for the port to the South, but the one in Massachusetts. It was built by Lord Howard of Effingham, not the one who was Lord High Admiral during the Armada but five generations later. The Howard family is of course headed by the Duke of Norfolk, The Effinghams are a cadet branch. All server as soldiers and one was Governor of Virginia.

The one we are interested in is Thomas Howard the 3rd Earl of Effingham. He acceded to the title in 1768 aged 16. Following the family tradition, he entered the Army but with the country at peace, was placed on half pay a few months after his marriage. Looking for adventure, and pay, he headed to Russia to fight for Catherine the Great against the Turk.

He returned to England and lived in the family home in Rotherham, where he looked to build a hunting lodge. He took a commission in the 22nd - the regiment founded the Duke of Norfolk. However, when the colonists rebelled and the regiment was ordered across the Atlantic - Thomas felt he could not fight what he saw as fellow Englishmen, many of whom had served his grandfather - therefore he resigned his commission. Due to this stand the lodge - already in progress - gained the name Boston Castle, after the tea party.

His principled stand did not prevent him from gaining office - it helps when your neighbour and cousin is Prime Minister. He became Master of the Mint and later Governor of Jamaica. However the climate there disagreed with him and both he and his wife succumbed to fever - when he was only 45. He is remembered in the name of several American counties.

The medieval bridge over the Don features the Chapel of Our Lady of Rotherham Bridge - one of four remaining bridge chapels, St Ives being another. Unfortunately, due to the various works to make the river more navigable, the medieval bridge does not actually cross the whole river - you need to use the modern Chantry bridge built in 1923, the same year the Rugby club was founded.

Rotherham Rugby Union Football Club known as the Titans were not one of the elite clubs and entered the leagues at level eight. But seven promotions took them all the way to the Premiership - though the last took battles on and off the field. They were promoted to the Premiership twice, but frustrated with the RFU their then backer walked away and the club nearly folded, but they were saved by a consortium of ex-players. They remained in the Championship until 2018. Last season, their first at level three since 1996 they finished sixth.

This season, they started with a loss at Rosslyn Park, before taking a bonus point victory against Sale FC and a narrow loss at Plymouth Albion. This leaves them on six points in thirteenth place.

We may well face Cambridge old boy Keifer Laxton who moved North this season and so far has made two appearances from the bench.

Do try to make the trip up the A1 to cheer them on.

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