Fri 10 Jan 2020 09:55

This Saturday we entertain Rotherham Titans. The Wanderers host Ampthill and the 3rd XV head to Essex to take on Saffron Walden.

Rotherham sits at a crossing point of the River Don at the junction with the River Rother. It was the site of a Roman Fort, but really developed under the Saxons. Under the Norman's it had a succession of absentee landlords before being gifted to the White Friars.

Although best known for steel, Rotherham was also home to glass and pottery works. One of the more gruesome tales of the pottery was the story of the Broughton Jug. In 1823 some of the apprentice potters had been drinking in Sheffield and were walking back to Rotherham across Attercliffe moor. Here they came across the rotting core of Spencer Broughton.

Spencer had been a farmer in Lincolnshire but had taken to gambling and the cock fights of Sheffield. In desperate need of money to pay his debts he decided to rob the mail. So in January 1791 he and an accomplice waited on the moor for the mail to head back to Rotherham from Sheffield and held it up. Unfortunately the only thing of value among the mail was a bill of exchange worth £123. They decided to take it to London to cash. However, they had a taste for crime and committed more robberies on the way, including one in Cambridge. When they finally did try to cash the bill they were arrested.

He was sent to York for trial and hung on the Knavesmire - now the race course. Then returned to the scene of the crime to act as a deterrent - where here had been hanging for over 30 years, before our drunken apprentice boys found him.

As they were making bone china, they had the idea of stealing some of the bones, so they threw some rocks and manged to break off a number of fingers - before returning to Rotherham. Here they were promptly thrown into jail - in the building that was originally and is now once more the bridge chapel. They did however retain the  bones. And they were able to use them to make a jug. Although his jug is well attested - it is no longer extant.

The pottery went on to new heights, moving on from simple earthenware tea pots to elaborate rococo bone china pieces known as Rockingham - after the pottery's owner the Marquis of Rockingham who lived at nearby Wentworth-Woodhouse. These were sold to the grandest houses, including King William and Queen Victoria. Unfortunately the potters were better at design than business and it eventually went bankrupt in the 1840s.

The remains of Spencer Broughton hung on the moor for a few more years. Indeed gibbeting as a practice ended by 1830 and public hanging a few years later. The lane over the moor is known as Broughton Lane, but historians argue as to whether it is named for the thief.

The Titans were formed in 1923, a good year for Rugby clubs. Never the most fashionable of clubs they struggled to get fixtures against top teams and so then leagues came they were placed at the bottom of the pyramid. However, a succession of promotions so them reach level 3 in 1995 and level two the following season. They finally reached the play-offs beating Bedford to reach the top tier in 2000 and despite beating Saracens they finished last and returned to level 2. They won the league but were denied promotion on ground criteria. Another level two title saw them return to the top flight playing at the Soccer ground Milmoor. However, they failed to win a game and returned to level 2 and Clifton Lane. In 2014 and 2015 they had more play-off chances but failed to gain promotion. But that was the last of the glory years and in 2017 they were relegate to National 1.

Last season we won up at Rotherham and lost at home. This season we lost in Rotherham, but Rotherham have only won twice since then and drawn against Hull Ionians. However they picked up two points against Plymouth last week. However, they are still in the relegation zone seven points from safety.

Cambridge's win last week saw us drop a place in the table -as Sale and Plymouth both got bonus points. It was however the first time since December 2017. We have not won four in a row since our promotion season when in February to March 2016 we had eight wins in a row. While I am not sure we could repeat that - it is good to have a dream.

Do come down and roar he boys on.

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