Thanks to the fading memories of current and former players, old Oxford Mail match reports, and RFU tables and fixtures archives, we've been able to create a brief history of Wallingford RFC since the turn of the millenium.
We will endeavour to put together a brief history of the club pre-2000 at some point in the future.
2000-2003 : The Carter/Hollis Years
The start of the millennium saw coach Chris Norrington have some early success in BBO1 as they started to see an exciting crop of homegrown youngsters break through into the 1st XV.
With a blend of experience (Ali Reay, Dick Payne, Phil Carter, Jason Hollis, Stuart Mount) and emerging youth (Lee Lewis, Pete Holton, Olli Henderson, Glenn Dearlove), along with some established players entering their prime (Henry Venners, Johnny Collett, David Keable), Wallingford played an exciting brand of rugby with a solid pack and and lively back line.
After promotion from BBO1 in the 2001/02 season, a tough season in Southern Counties North followed, as Wallingford won only won league game all season.
2003-2007 – The Henderson Years
A return to BB01 saw the appointment of 21 year old Olli Henderson as 1st XV captain. What he lacked in experience, he made up for in self-confidence, and with Olli leading from the front at fly-half, Wallingford really began to grow as a side.
With the arrival of quality players in the shape of Derek Viljoen, Don Jenkins and Dorian Jenkins, and the development of former colts like Kris ‘Bungle’ Blaszko and Pat McKenna, the 1st XV squad began to really take shape.
Three top four finishes followed, as Wallingford scored on average over 30 points a game, reflecting the attacking style of play Chris Norrington was instilling in the side.
Henderson’s final season as captain finally saw promotion, as the stars aligned and Wallingford completed a rare 100% season, with 20 wins out of 20 games.
A settled side was strengthened by a number of returning students, as Ed Jenkins, Pete Holton and Tom Hill, and new additions such as Henry Pooler and Pete Lloyd, added an extra level of energy and class.
By this point, the club was overflowing with talent, as the 2nd XV, captained by Dan White, also enjoyed league promotion, as again the perfect combination of experience (Neil Bird, Mount, Al Freeston, Dick Payne, Damion Bridges) and emerging youth (Richard Turner, Pete Strang, Ralph Smith, Dan White) created a very strong 2nd XV.
Highlights of the season included a 136-0 victory over Littlemore (seven tries for Pooler!) and a 99-0 win over Swindon College (Henderson’s only hat-trick). The only blemish on the season was a county cup final defeat to Bicester at Iffley Road.
2007-2009 – The Bungle Years
With Henderson off travelling, captaincy was passed on to 25 year old prop Kris ‘Bungle’ Blaszko. By this stage, Bungle was arguably one of the best players in the league, combining his considerable bulk with deceptive touch and speed, not to mention his fiery team talks.
This season saw two pivotal additions to the pack, as Ian Jeffreys returned from travelling to marshal the pack from no.8, and 6’10” giant lock Mike Turner joined from local rivals Grove.
With Turner striking the fear of god into oppositions, normally before he’d even left the changing rooms, and Pete Strang pulling the strings of a skilful, pacey backline, Wallingford were a fearsome prospect for anyone.
A fine season saw Wallingford battle with a talented Olney side all the way to the end, but ultimately finished second on points difference. That led to a play-off match against Southern Counties South outfit Wootton Bassett. Playing in the massively over-sized away kit, Wallingford put in a near-perfect display to contain the dangerous opposition backs and win an enthralling match, and ensure South West 2 rugby for the first time in the club’s history.
This success was mirrored by the 2nd XV, who, captained by Stuart Mount, won a competitive BBO1 South league.
Wallingford took to level 6 like a duck to water as they won their first five games of the season, with Mike Turner often proving the difference in tight games, and the metronomic kicking of teenage star Jackson Sayce also key.
Wallingford eventually finished a more than respectable 6th place. Highlight of the season was a narrow first ever victory over high-flying Reading, a game that will go down in Wallingford folklore, namely for Jackson’s howitzer-like kicking, and for Mike Turner’s equally howitzer-like right hook!
That season the 2nd XV, captained by Dan White, continued their fine form by clinching the BBO Prem, the highest league possible for them, containing plenty of 2nd XV heavyweights.
2009-12 : The Jeffreys Years
After a successful first season in South West 2, Bungle handed the mantle of captaincy over to the increasingly talismanic Ian Jeffreys, as Wallingford looked to embed themselves into level 6 rugby.
Despite the loss of the influential Mike Turner, that loss was largely filled by 21 year old Will Woodward, son of Roy, who took the league by storm with his pace, power and overall skillset in the back row.
Tries were spread across the team, including 11 for the dynamic front row of Bungle, Tom Hill and Ed Jenkins, whilst Jeffreys and Woodward shared 22 tries between them as their pace around the park proved too much for many a team.
Wallingford achieved another 6th place finish, in what was to prove Chris Norrington’s last season as coach, as he decided to call it a day after ten excellent ten years as coach.
The following season was a season of transition, as 2nd XV coach Martin Moran took the reins. It proved to be a difficult season, with Will Woodward and Jackson Sayce departing, and a number of players’ motivation waning as age and injury caught up with them.
That said, it was far from a complete disaster, as several promising youngsters cut their teeth on level 6 rugby, including Antony ‘Monk’ Marris and Matt Dawes, and but for an administrative error away to Reading Abbey which resulted in a 5 point reduction, Wallingford would have actually stayed up.
In hindsight, relegation was probably a blessing, as a narrow relegation was much less painful than another season in South West 2 would have been.
The 2011/12 season saw Wallingford drop down into South Counties North again, with new coaches in Stuart Mount and Henry Pooler, but things proved equally as difficult, as Wallingford just about avoided a double relegation.
After three years of captaincy and stellar performances week in week out, Ian Jeffreys stepped down and departed to test himself at a higher standard with Redingensians, which no one at Wallingford could begrudge.
2012-14 : The Holton/Marris Years
After a shaky start to life back in Southern Counties, Pete Holton was appointed as Jeffreys’ successor, as he and coaches Mount and Pooler looked to rebuild.
In what was a very strong league, with several teams that had also been in South West 2 in recent seasons, and some strong promoted teams, Wallingford endured another tough season.
After narrowly avoiding relegation in 2012/13, there saw a changing of the guard, as club legends Henry Venners, Johnny Collett and Derek Viljoen ended their 1st XV careers, but a small influx of players, including Carl Tappin, Dan Sadler, James Norris and Tom Swainston went a long way to plugging the gap.
Unfortunately, another frustrating season saw Wallingford battle relegation again, but there were definite signs that things were on the up after several tough seasons, as Stuart Mount stepped down after three years as coach.
2014-17 : The Webster Years
With Mount stepping down, Wallingford were fortunate to acquire a new coach in Jason ‘Butty’ Roberts, who had recently moved to RAF Benson and was looking to further his coaching development.
Along with new captain Jermaine Webster, Butty instilled some of his military discipline and structure to affairs. Results arguably didn’t reflect the improvement in the team’s performances, as Wallingford again tested some of the stronger teams in the league. Several former colts in Jay Wiltshire and Conner Murphy, along with new recruits Pete McKinley and Jack Greenway made their impact on the side, but injuries to key players, namely the standout Monk meant that Butty’s first season ended in another 10th place finish.
The following season saw a maturing side bolstered by the return of Ian Jeffreys after three seasons at Redingensians. After a tough start, the team began to gather momentum, as Wallingford enjoyed their best season since returning to Southern Counties North. An exciting backline, with the likes of Sadler, Wiltshire, Finn Sayce and McKinley combined to play some excellent rugby, as Wallingford finished just short of a top four finish.
Jermaine’s final season saw further consolidation despite the loss of Monk to Redingensians, as the arrival of Sam Botting in the centres, as well as a long-awaited influx of colts, saw the squad develop achieve a sixth-place finish.
2003-04 Berks/Bucks/Oxon 1
2004-05 Berks/Bucks/Oxon Prem
2005-06 Berks/Buck/Oxon Prem
2006-07 Berks/Bucks/Oxon Prem
2007-08 Southern Counties North
2008-09 South West 2