A demonstration of kindness and support from the local community

Hartlepool Rugby Club told Rugby Blindside about their recent financial challenges as a result of the UK lockdown and the response they received from the local community.

Hartlepool Rugby Club was established in 1893 and will this season celebrate 50 years spent at their home, Mayfield Park.

Their most successful spell on the field came in the early part of the new millennium when they enjoyed two promotion campaigns, their highest ever league finish and three successive county cup wins between 2000 and 2002.

Over the last decade the club has grown beyond all expectation from fielding just 4 teams to now boasting 15 across all age groups.

There has been a significant increase in membership and Mayfield Park has become a vibrant hub for the local community, hosting teams from other sports and regularly holding well attended events. However, like the majority of grassroots sports clubs they have been significantly impacted by the effects of the pandemic.

The lockdowns and subsequent suspension of all rugby has seen most of their revenue streams completely shut off, as Mini & Junior Chair Stewart Hind explains.

“The situation is not unique to ourselves. All grassroots community sports clubs have faced many difficult challenges over the last ten or eleven months. Despite losing our main sources of income such as bar sales, private hire bookings and sponsorship, some bills still need to be paid.

“As well as the financial stress placed on the club there has also been a big impact felt by our players and members. The bar is a social space where our members come to meet friends, while there is no rugby for our adult and junior players to enjoy.

“The loss of these will have no doubt had a significant effect on the mental health and wellbeing of some throughout this period, and the sooner that we can get back to normal safely, the better.

“We have all had to adapt and think outside of the box. Our members and local community have been absolutely fantastic in getting behind us and supporting various fundraising initiatives.

“Luckily in November we were able to access the Sport England Crowdfunder grant. The basic premise was that if we could raise £10,000 inside 55 days, Sport England would match that with a £10,000 grant.

“A fundraising page was set up and we promoted our story online. We offered various incentives such as club memberships, entry to raffles, pre match lunches, sponsorship opportunities & more to encourage people to donate where they could.

“The response from our community was incredible and unprecedented. In a little under a month we managed to raise £20,170, with the Sport England grant. This was an unbelievable demonstration of kindness and generosity from so many people who are facing these difficult times themselves.

“We were truly humbled to see just how much Hartlepool Rugby Club means to local people. This money will now help us to navigate our way through the remainder of this pandemic financially, while allowing us to complete essential maintenance and invest in our facilities.

When they finally emerge from this pandemic and the cycle of lockdowns, Hartlepool hope to carry on from where they left off and continue to go from strength to strength.

This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Rugby Blindside magazine – Read the full issue here