While Penryn Rugby Club has been their life’s passion, Keith and Frances Richards had eyes only for each other when they married 50 years ago.
The couple will now celebrate their golden wedding anniversary today, Saturday (December 14) with a party at the Lemon Arms in Mylor.
Frances was born west of Penzance but came to Penryn in her early years, while Keith was born in the borough and lived his whole life there.
Fifty years of marriage also marks 50 years of Keith and Frances at Penryn Rugby Football Club.
Keith’s grandfather played rugby for Penryn and Cornwall over 100 years ago, his own father was the youngest player ever to play for Cornwall and Keith’s uncle was the first Penryn |player to represent England.
Initially playing for the colts, Keith soon progressed to the club’s senior sides making many appearances for both First and Second XV’s.
A talented scrum half, one of Keith’s playing highlights came when he scored his first try for the Chiefs against Welsh giants, Pontypridd. Sadly his playing days were numbered, as the death of his father meant that Keith had to concentrate his efforts on providing for his mother and younger siblings.
Happier days were soon to arrive when Keith and Frances were wed at St Gluvias Church on December 14, 1963. They moved to Tremough Dale, to a house where they still live today.
With rugby very much in the blood, Keith could not stay away for long but after suffering a broken thumb playing was no longer an option and so the committee beckoned.
Between them the couple have taken on many roles over the years and with his playing experience Keith was |valuable as a selector, having the casting vote as chairman of the |selection committee for a time.
While Keith was watching how the players performed, Frances would be walking around the weekly crowd |selling raffle tickets. Together they took over the running of the bar for several years, which included cleaning as well as serving on their own every Sunday, on disco night with a packed clubhouse.
Bingo was also a popular weekly |pastime, with Keith driving the club’s minibus around the town to collect the regulars while Frances charged the glasses and even called the numbers when needed. When full house was finally called Keith took everyone home, leaving Frances to clean up and lock up before going home.
Here there were two young sons and future players, Mark and Alan, and their role in the mini section began.
Wanting all the teams to look their best Keith and Frances raised money themselves to buy several sets of shirts, through various events including|jumble sales. They managed to raise enough to buy one set of hooped shirts and the others were to be the white with red and black ‘V’, but these could not be bought in child sizes, so a set of white shirts were bought and Frances hand sewed ribbon around each ones neck.
The clubhouse also bears their mark, with Keith building the suspended |ceiling in the top bar as well as |replacing both the original sets of wood steps and the shed structure on the far side of the pitch, which remains today.
As their boys grew, Keith and Frances progressed, also and next for them were the colts. During this time they bought the colts their first ever set of new shirts, rather than ones handed down from the First XV. The team also went on their first tour, all funded by the efforts of the Keith and Frances.
Although coaching has now come to an end the couple still spend Saturday afternoons at the Memorial Ground, watching their sons playing in the senior sides, and Sunday mornings with the minis – this time watching grandson Owen in the under nines.
The couple have six grandchildren.