Seaford Rugby Football Club, It’s Surroundings, It’s History and Why Purple Conversations is Proud to Sponsor Them

By Simon Bates with Foreward by Carole Smith

Purple Conversations are proud to be one of the Sponsors of Seaford Rugby Football Club

and will be supporting them in various ways.  The article below explains why they are happy to be a part of the town and it’s community, helping the community in many ways.  Some of which are included in their first article below.  Carole. Purple Conversations.

Nestled in the lee of the South Downs, equidistant between Brighton and Eastbourne on the East Sussex Coast lies the small dormitory town of Seaford (pronounced by the locals as Sea – ford!) With a population of 27,000, the town is mainly urban housing with small pockets of light industry and surprisingly little tourism. There is a bustling shopping centre with many local traders as well as coffee shops, pubs and restaurants.

Between the end of the Second World War and the early eighties, Seaford was well known for the amount of boarding schools in the town. As a result, a number of celebrities attended the various education establishments including actors Dame Penelope Keith, Margaret Rutherford and Nigel Davenport, comedian Dickie Henderson and soviet spy Sir Anthony Blunt.

Famous Seafordians include actors Maurice Denholm, twins Cassie and Connie Powney (Hollyoaks) – whose family have strong links with the club, Rock drummers Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello) and Paul Garred (The Kooks). Ex-stuntman Eddie Kidd still lives in the town.

The town is dominated by Seaford Head, the chalk cliff (seen at the beginning of Reggie Perrin) that is found at the western boundary of Seven Sisters Country Park. Take a brisk walk to the summit and you will be treated to the iconic view of Cuckmere Haven and the Seven Sisters themselves. The beach and promenade are popular locations on a summer’s day to not only the residents of the town, but also those within Sussex and beyond who want somewhere a little more sedate than the bigger, busier resorts.

It is just on the land side of the promenade you will find the Salts recreation ground, home of Seaford Rugby Club.

Formed in 1938, the club fields two senior teams, a ladies side and has an active mini and junior section, with teams of all ages from seven to seventeen. There is a loyal band of alickadoos, the Old Salts (ex-players), who provide support on a Saturday, prop up the bar and talk about how things were better in their day. Some of these have been members for over 50 years!

Unique in that the pitch is actually below sea level, playing rugby at the Salts brings its own challenges when a force ten is blowing in off the sea. All the players, no matter what age or sex are fiercely loyal to the club and are proud to wear the scarlet shirt.

Seaford have had relatively modest success over the past eighty years, but unlike other clubs in the area, although ambitious, recognises the need to have its roots within the community. They are limited as to where players are recruited from in that one hundred and eighty degrees of the catchment area is sea!

Weekends are extremely busy at the clubhouse during the season. Saturday sees the two senior sides playing their league matches. Following ‘hostilities’ on the pitch players and supporters of both teams retire to the bar to celebrate or commiserate. If England are playing on that day an even bigger crowd gathers with many local residents coming to watch the game and sample the atmosphere of a rugby club. Many end up becoming social members and return time and again.

Sunday mornings see the minis and juniors, along with mums and dads come to the club for training and matches. This is always a social event with plenty of warming hot food and drinks for cold parents! This is a great way to introduce youngsters into the rugby family. Parents are encouraged to take part in training and some even pull on their boots and come and play on a Saturday for the men or Sunday for the ladies.

It is well known fact that community clubs such as Seaford depend heavily on youngsters developing and progressing to the senior sides in order to survive. At present numbers are dropping in the senior game, some smaller clubs have disbanded.  It is therefore important to have a vibrant mini and junior section. And so, to keep that conveyor belt going, the club have this season, employed a Youth Development Officer, Kevin Lewis. He has liaised with all the schools in the area so that youngsters are made aware of what Seaford RFC can offer. It is early days, but the signs are good, with a number of new boys joining. It is also hoped that through Kevin’s sterling work; a girls’ team can be formed by the end of the season.

The ladies team takes centre stage on a Sunday afternoon if they have a home fixture. This is the newest addition to the club, formed in 2014 on a social basis. Since its introduction, player numbers have swelled and in 2016 they entered the league and coached by club Chairman Ian Newby, achieved a very creditable mid-table position. This is now an extremely active and flourishing section of Seaford RFC and can only go from strength to strength.

It is one of the core principles of Seaford RFC to be a part of the community and immerse themselves in any way that they can.

In 2015 Seaford’s number one supporter, Ellis Jones won a Samsung Try of the Month award for his storming sixty yard try, when he evaded the tackles of the entire opposition. Luckily you can see this on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjSkei784fs. This has had over 15,000 hits! The club entered Ellis’ try into the competition and as result of winning asked Samsung to supply some vital equipment which enables Ellis to communicate a great deal easier than before.

For the past five years, the club has arranged a Christmas party for local senior citizens.  They are collected by minibus, taken to the clubhouse where they enjoy a glass of sherry (or more than one!) and a Christmas tea. This is followed with entertainment in the shape of a singer and dancing with some of the players who come to help. The afternoon is completed by a visit from Father Christmas and presents, before they are all taken home. This Christmas (2017), 55 pensioners attended with 96-year-old Betty Slater being the oldest party-goer!

Seaford are a staunch supporter of the White Ribbon charity https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/ –  the campaign against male violence towards women – in fact the charity sponsored the second team for a season. To this day, every player wears the white ribbon symbol on their playing shirt.

There are other fund-raising projects that resulted in charities receiving donations from the club. It includes St Wilfred’s Hospice in Eastbourne, somewhere that supported one of the Ladies’ team, Sonya, who has since made a tremendous recovery and now coaches one of the junior sides.

All this requires a great deal of organisation and finance. The club depends on an enthusiastic Board of Directors, committee members for both seniors and juniors and an army of others who go that extra mile to help the club function. Sponsors are vital to the organisation and the support and generosity of local companies such Purple Conversations is always greatly appreciated. Please  visit the club website for a full list of the sponsors http://www.seafordrfc.co.uk/.

This season the club celebrates its eightieth anniversary, culminating in a weekend of rugby and fun at the end of August. Matches will be played by every team, there will be plenty of food and drink and live music in the evening. Everyone is welcome. If you want to see Seaford Rugby Club in all its glory, this is a date to put in your diary.

Seaford prides itself on its inclusivity. No matter what background, sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity, you will always be welcome into their rugby family at the Salts. They are always looking for players of all ages and sexes. The amount experience is no bar to joining. They would love newcomers to try out a new sport, or more experienced players to come and join a community club that is fun and friendly as well as ambitious. Many over the years have come, few leave, and if they do – they return.

“Once Sea-ford RFC, always Sea-ford RFC!”

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