Northampton Saints discover fascinating items from the past ahead of stand demolition at Franklin’s Gardens

Picture: Northampton Saints
Picture: Northampton Saints

Memorabilia including scrapbooks and match reports from the 1890s has been discovered at Northampton Saints ahead of the demolition of the Sturtridge Pavilion.

There are only just a few weeks to go before the pavilion comes down at Franklin’s Gardens, and in preparing the building for demolition staff have been making some surprising finds.

The Members’ Bar has long been the focus for memorabilia that has been collected and donated during the near half-century that the Sturtridge Pavilion has been dominating the north end of the Franklin’s Gardens site, but inevitably with a building that old there have been one or two other finds that have caught the eye.

Prime among these has been a metal trunk, which had laid untouched for years. In it were a number of old scrapbooks of match reports dating back to the 1890s, team pictures, and fixture programmes.

One such programme is a pristine copy of Edgar Mobbs’s last ever rugby match, an England versus Scotland international played at the County Ground in 1915.

Also among the treasure trove of East Midlands memorabilia previously belonged to Jack Binyon, who kept not just the post-card informing him of his selection for the East Midlands for their 1924 tour match against New Zealand, but a match programme and match report, too, along with a framed photo of the squads taken at the County Ground which itself contains the East Midlands’ ribbons and a New Zealand fern badge.

All of this memorabilia has been catalogued and stored, with the club taking advice from Northampton Museum as to how best to store items, many of which are well over 100 years old.

“The development of the Barwell Stand is an exciting time for the club’s future, but it has also given us the opportunity to re-visit our past,” said a spokesman for Northampton Saints.

“We’ve been on this site for 135 years, and with hundreds and hundreds of players and supporters having donated memorabilia to us over the years it is somewhat inevitable that some of it has been packed into boxes and cupboards.

“As so many people will have done when they have moved house, we have found plenty of items which have long been forgotten about, but all of which have contributed towards the club’s long and proud history.

“Of course everything that has been catalogued has been treated with theutmost respect, and to this end we are indebted to Simon Robinson, a long-time supporter who has given up his time to help us with this project.

“Over the coming months we will be appraising everything that we have catalogued and deciding how best we can present our history to a new generation of supporters.”