Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club: More Than 140 Years of History
Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club History and Highlights
Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club’s beginnings trace back to 1873 when a group of Havelock Cricket Club members went looking for a winter sport. The result was the birth of the Moseley Football Club.
But only just.
With rugby being a twenty-a-side game at the time, the newly-formed Moseley F.C. only just managed to scrape a team together, recruiting precisely 20 players for its first season. Things did begin to improve, however.
By the club’s second season, it had already debuted its signature red and black colors. And as the 1870s wore on, the club began to have some early successes.
This included a three-year undefeated streak from 1879 to 1882, winning the first Midland Counties Challenge Cup, and becoming the first team to defeat the New Zealand Native football team.
In the years that followed, Moseley began producing some of the country’s best rugby players as it continued to develop as a team. By 1890, it saw its first player don an international cap when John Rogers was selected to represent England against Wales.
By the end of the 1890s, Moseley’s base of players had grown so strong that it formed the core of the Olympic team representing Great Britain at the 1900 Paris Olympics. Unfortunately, the team only managed to come in third after losing to France. However, fatigue was primarily blamed for the team’s loss. The story goes that they only arrived in Paris the morning of the game. Moreover, at least five players had played just the day before.
World War I
The outbreak of World War I in the decade that followed halted Birmingham Moseley’s playing activities. However, the team did manage to come back following the war, but it struggled during the first few seasons.
By 1921, membership was improving and with it, the base of players Moseley could draw from. This saw Moseley score runner-up in both the senior and junior Midland Counties Challenge Cup competitions during the 1921-22 season.
Despite the promise of the 1921-22 season, Birmingham Moseley would continue with mixed results for the next few seasons.
Return to Form
After more than a decade of less-than-stellar results, Birmingham Moseley finally broke out with a win in the 1932-33 North Midlands Sevens, beating Walsall 11-5 in the final.
Unfortunately, only a few years later, the club would be forced to stop playing again as World War II broke out.
The Post-World War II Years
Coming back after the war, the club would again struggle when play resumed due to a lack of playing resources. However, by 1951, things were improving again. The club’s second team, Moseley United, went undefeated in 31 matches, of which it won an impressive 30 while only drawing one.
The Golden Years
As it continued to rebuild in the post-war years, the club also undertook a significant expansion of its stadium. This allowed the club to expand its fixture list significantly and kicked off what are now known as Moseley’s “Golden Years.”
This period, which lasted throughout the sixties and well into the seventies and early eighties, saw Birmingham Moseley competing against the top sides in England, with many of its players being regularly selected for international teams.
Some of the club’s successes in this period include reaching the R.F.U. Knock-out cup final on three occasions, one of which (1982) they were joint winners after a draw with Gloucester. The team also won the 1972-73 Sunday Telegraph English Welsh Merit Table, the 1976-77 Daily Mail Anglo-Welsh Merit Table, the Sunday Telegraph English Merit Table, and were runners-up in the 1976-77 Sunday Telegraph English/Welsh Merit Table. The club also won the North Midlands Sevens and came second in the Midlands Sevens.
Entrance to the Courage National Division One
By 1987, league rugby had started, and the team was placed in the top division at the time: The Courage National Division One.
In the club’s first Courage National season, they made it to the semi-finals after putting an end to Bath’s streak of 22 unbeaten matches in the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, Moseley wouldn’t make it past the semi-finals after it lost to Bristol. On the positive side, however, Birmingham Moseley’s second team, The United, won the Midland 2nd XV league.
Heading into the 1990s, the team faced relegation after finishing twelfth in the 1990-91 Courage League Division One. This started a period of struggles for the club, which peaked right at the moment when the club launched its first full-scale professionalization effort in 1995.
Attempts to Turn Professional
This first stab at turning professional didn’t quite go as planned, and the club was left scrambling to find more backers. But, by 1996, the directors successfully assembled the investors it needed.
Unfortunately, the profesionalization effort didn’t go as planned again. In just two short years, the club overextended its new financial resources and fell into administration on Jan 30, 1998. Nonetheless, the club still finished the season by meeting most of its playing commitments. The only exception was the North Midlands Cup, which it abandoned after it disbanded the club’s 2nd XV, The United.
After almost facing financial ruin, the club was received by a group of Birmingham Moseley members assembled by Simon Cooper, a former club player and official. Under the name of Moseley Ventures Ltd., the group bought the club out of administration, and a large number of members pledged their support for the new group. The rescue was just in time to celebrate the club’s 125th anniversary.
In its comeback, the club finished in a respectable seventh place in the Allied Dunbar Premiership 2. Sadly, after selling The Reddings, the season also saw the last 1st XV match at the ground, where Moseley defeated Worcester 34-17.
The next season, the Birmingham Moseley moved to Bournbrook on the University of Birmingham campus, and the club again managed to hold onto its National Division One spot after coming in 10th. However, planning problems at the university raised questions over the club’s survival, and its finances were again looking bleak.
This saw a buyout offer made by Firoz Kassam, chairman of Oxford United Football Club, which would have taken the club to Oxford. However, Birmingham Moseley stalwarts led by former captain Dave Warren rallied to counter the offer. At a meeting at the Grand Hotel on Jul 26, 2002, the Moseley consortium gained the creditors’ support by a 1.7% majority.
Rebuilding Moseley Rugby Club
Following the financial turbulence, Birmingham Moseley struggled to assemble a squad for the season, fielding a young squad that was scraped together in just a few weeks. Inevitably, this saw it relegated from National Division One in a season that saw the club’s biggest-ever defeat at Rotherham.
By 2004, things were improving again. With Ian Smith taking over as head coach, the 1st XV managed a third-spot finish in National Division Two. The club then ended the season with its first awards presentation dinner at its new clubhouse at Billesley. This was backed up by another solid 2005-06 season, which saw Moseley promoted back to National Division One.
Return to National Division One
Back in National Division One, things proved challenging, and Birmingham Moseley had a rocky first season, including periods with as many as 14 players on the injury list. But, things did start to improve.
By 2007 the club managed to finish in the number 10 spot. This performance was backed up again in 2008-09 with a win in the E.D.F. Energy National Trophy and an 8th position finish in the national division.
The 2009-10 season saw a change in the 12-team championships, and after missing out on the promotion playoffs by two points in 2009-10, the team faced consecutive years contesting the relegation playoffs. This period ended in 2013-13 when Birmingham Moseley posted its best result in the reformed championship and finished the season in seventh place.
The following season saw Birmingham Moseley opening its new stand and hospitality facilities. To mark the occasion, it posted a dominating 29-0 victory over Plymouth Albion. This was the season’s final game, and, at the time, Moseley was 11th on the table, just 7 points ahead of Plymouth Albion. The dominating win ultimately secured Mosely’s Championship status for yet another season. But only just.
The Modern Era
Unfortunately, while it managed to hold onto its spot in National Division in the 2014-15 season, the 2015-16 season would not end so well. After a difficult season, the club landed in last place and was relegated for the following season. At this point, the club adopted its current name, Birmingham Moseley.
Of course, Birmingham Moseley experienced a break in play due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it emerged with a renewed commitment to the professionalization of the club, engaging Open Clubhouse to revitalize its sales and marketing strategy. After making much progress while working together, the club finally appointed Mike Turner and Pete Geddes of Open Clubhouse to a joint-CEO position in April 2022.
Now, as the club nears its 150th year, it is looking to rise through the ranks and become one of the leading Rugby Clubs in the country.
St. Paul’s Road, Balsall Heath
In its early days, Moseley played its home matches at St. Paul’s Road, Balsall Heath.
In 1925, Birmingham Moseley acquired the freehold to its famous long-term home ground: The Reddings.
Over the years, the stadium went through multiple periods of improvement. The most significant of these was the 1951-65 upgrades, which are now seen as a marker of Birmingham Moseley’s so-called Golden Years.
The most notable of the upgrades included the construction of a one-thousand-seat stand. This stand was opened with a game against an International XV in 1957. The club also constructed a new clubhouse in 1963. Shortly after the opening of the clubhouse, the club installed floodlights in 1965.
After entering into administration in 1999, Birmingham Moseley sold the Reddings and moved to temporary facilities at Bournbrook on the University of Birmingham campus. It then moved to its current home ground, Billesley Common, in 2005.