Celebration of great club over more than 50 years
All former players and partners are invited to a reunion of AEI Rugby Football Club next Friday (April 5), as a chance to share memories of great times past.
The get-together at Rugby Railway Club is planned as a celebration of what a fantastic football club it has been over more than 50 years.
The club pulled out of the Coventry Alliance Football league earlier this season, ending a huge chapter of the town’s footballing history.
Formerly BTH FC, the original works team that at its peak ran four sides from its GEC Hillmorton Road home has now folded.
The end came quickly after an unprecedented period of success in the club’s history.
It followed five years in which the first team won four Alliance Premier League titles, coming runners-up in the other year and winning numerous cup competitions.
At the same time the second team competed just one division down in Alliance Division 1, the highest level it could attain.
Not even in the late 1970s when Town legend Terry Branston was player manager, turning out great teams, had the club ever enjoyed such success.
At the start of this season the club became a victim of their own success when many of the players decided to look for a new challenge outside the Alliance structure.
Losing so many at the same time made it very difficult to maintain two teams at such a high level of local football.
The Premier League side continued after the second team withdrew, but it soon became impossible to field even one side on a regular basis that could compete at that level.
Over recent years the club has survived many challenges after losing its home when the GEC sold off the sports field and clubhouse, a situation faced by many Alliance (formerly the Coventry Works League) clubs.
So many teams like the AEI benefited from great business-owned facilities with grounds tended by full time groundsmen and clubhouses that helped generate a social aspect that sadly has also deteriorated over the years.
Moving for a few years to play at Dunchurch Sportsfield the then three teams became two when the third team, playing on a council pitch, became unsustainable due to the excessive cost of hiring the pitch and changing rooms.
Looking back that was the start of the demise, as the third team playing at a lower level created a platform for aging players to remain playing for the club for longer but more importantly an opportunity to bring in new young blood at a level generating the life blood of the club for coming years.
A few years after moving to Dunchurch the club was fortunate enough to find a new home at the Rugby Town Junior FC Kilsby Lane facilities.
Those involved in providing these facilities for the Town should take a bow for the fantastic job they have done. This provided great conditions for the AEI to start their unprecedented dominance after Tommy Young’s Stockton squad came to the AEI and merged with the excellent young side already in place.
Tommy and brother Alan did a fantastic job of combining two groups of players into one squad that swept all before them, not an easy task.
Over the years many great players graced the sides and in even in barren periods for silverware the club was solid and always well run.
More importantly lifelong friendships were created and when opportunity brings ex-players together it takes but a second for old stories to be relived and enjoyed.
Sadly many are no longer with us, people who had a major influence on the club but there are many other ex-players who either helped run the club while still playing or who continued to stay on in a non-playing capacity, giving back to make the club what it was. Thanks go to them all.