A WEST Tyrone rugby club which was established nearly 70 years ago has launched an appeal for old photographs or memorabilia.
Omagh Academicals Rugby Football Club (RFC), founded in 1952, is putting together a digital record of its history.
The clubhouse at the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields will be open on January 28, 30 and 31, from 7pm until 9pm, to allow anyone to submit any old photographs or memorabilia that could be included in the ‘History of the Accies’.
Early in 1952, three young men, Billy Beatty, Tom Hendly and Dai Waterson, got together to discuss the future of rugby in Omagh and they were unanimous in their view that a fresh approach to the game was required. They then made the decision to form a new club, choosing a title in keeping with their old school, namely Omagh Academicals.
Permission to proceed was readily granted by the Irish Rugby Football Union, and on May 1, 1952, the ‘Accies’, as they were to be known all over Ireland, were officially born.
As a result of a whiparound among local businessmen, a set of green jerseys and three rugby balls were purchased and the Omagh Academy Committee gave the club permission to play their matches at Campsie and to use the school changing facilities.
On September 19, 1952 the Accies played their first game of rugby – a friendly with the then reigning North West champions, Enniskillen. The match was played in Fermanagh and, to the surprise of many, Omagh put up a magnificent performance before going down 5-3, beaten by a last-minute try and conversion.
The season 1956/57 saw the Accies leave Campsie and move into the Showgrounds which was to be their headquarters for the next 14 years. This season saw an Easter tour with a difference. True to form, the Accies made Irish rugby history by becoming the first junior club to play on the continent – beating French team, Racing Club de France, by 6-3.
The club’s present grounds of 22 acres were purchased outside Omagh at Coneywarren during the 66/67 season. After a generous donation by the Mellon family in America, it was aptly called the Thomas Mellon Playing Fields.
• Photographs and memorabilia for the club’s digital history can also be submitted by contacting the club secretary Ken Beattie at 07887 541237 or emailing: email@example.com