Ralph Sutcliffe

Ralph Sutcliffe

Born in 1922, Ralph went to King James Grammar School, Almondbury, where he made the cricket XI. He didn’t like soccer and concentrated on rugby instead, playing for Huddersfield RUFC (The Old Boys) First XV as a teenager (he describes himself as a tall centre). Just before the war, he signed up, along with Noel Wimpenny and James Hanson (later Lord Hanson), for the 2nd 7th Duke of Wellingtons Infantry. Following officer training he moved to become a pilot and target spotter in The Italian Campaign.

He played rugby for Northern Command, with rugby league players like Gus Risman. Unfortunately his war finished in Italy with a rugby injury.

After the war, he selected a Mirfield Occasionals including people like Squire Radcliffe. They played twice against The Casuals.

Ralph’s grandfather, Milford, was a member of the Huddersfield RU team that split from the RFU in 1895. He became skipper and, on retirement, joined the committee and he is a member of Fartown’s Hall of Fame. Milford was warehouse manager for Thomas Hirst wool merchants. Ralph’s father was a traveller with Thomas Hirst and also played professional rugby. His boss, however, Sir William Raynor, suggested he choose between rugby and a career in the wool trade. He was subsequently poached by Edward Haigh. Ralph sold the business in 1976.

Ralph is full of praise for The Casuals. In turbulent times, they have survived. He believes it is down to the enthusiasm, energy and strong direction of individuals.

Ralph’s rugby collection of material from Northern Command 1944, and from Mirfield Occasionals is stored in memorabilia.

Written summer 2010

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