A FOOTBALL club is celebrating 50 years since it was started up in a sports fan’s back garden.

Verwood’s Rossgarth club was launched by Reg Day, whose house near Ebblake was called Rossgarth, in 1964.

He had transformed his garden into a pitch for his two children in 1962, and interest was such that two years later he formed a committee, got a secondhand football kit from Ringwood Town and the club started to play friendly matches.

Today the club has about 350 members aged five to 18, in 22 teams.

On June 1, 1964 the first committee meeting of the newly formed Rossgarth Rangers was held, starting with an under-16s squad, with match subs costing one shilling a game.

The first game saw a heavy defeat, with Rossgarth losing 6-0 to Lytchett Red Triangle, but on September 26, 1964 Brian Long scored their first goal for Rossgarth, helping them to a 4-2 win over Junior Leaders. Mr Long now runs the local football pools.

In 1972 Mr Day wrote: “Our first changing room was the cowshed, which we used to swill out before a match and put bales of straw in for seats, but I’m afraid some of the town lads from Poole used to turn their noses up a bit at the healthy smell!”

Mr Day spent 20 years as club secretary before retiring at the age of 71.

Over the years the club has produced some fine players, including Ben Reeves, who went on to play for Southampton and Matt Tubbs, who went to Bournemouth and who also played for Salisbury and Crawley. Corby Moore also went from Rossgarth to Southampton.

But, says Rossgarth chairman Martin Gilham: “The key thing about the club is that we still follow the ethos Reg Day established 50 years ago, providing opportunities for all boys and girls in the community, irrespective of their ability.

“Like all clubs we’ve had our players who have gone on to big clubs, but we have a large catchment area with players coming from Alderholt, Cranborne and Three Legged Cross, and we never turn players away.”

He added: “We now play Potterne on a new 3G pitch, a far cry from when they started with a ploughed field.”

The club is planning a 50th anniversary party at the Verwood hub on May 10, and is hoping as many former players as possible will turn up.

The evening will start with a champagne reception, giving everyone the opportunity to view the collection of photographs and memorabilia tracing the history of the club. This will be followed by food, dancing and catching up with old friends.

For further information or to reserve a ticket contact Martin Gilham on 01202 827905, 07921 246234 or email mpgilham@msn.com.

Anyone with any material relating to Rossgarth’s history can contact Steve Course on 07746 751965 or steve.course@yahoo.co.uk (all material will be returned).

More pictures from the past in this week's Forest Journal.