A display toasting 150 years of Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club is swinging open its doors at the Harris on Saturday.
The milestone will be honoured with the Grasshoppers’ story told through objects and photographs at the special exhibition in the Discover Preston Gallery.
Mike Forshaw, historian at Preston Grasshoppers, said: “We have such a rich history at the club and are very proud to be sharing this with the people of Preston and further afield in Lancashire.
Many in the region aren’t aware of how the club was set up, the fantastic players the club has been involved with and how we are nurturing future stars at our club.
“Our display will feature a collection of memorabilia and photos spanning the 150 years of our club’s history, so we hope people will come along and enjoy it.”
Preston Grasshoppers Rugby Football Club (PGRFC) was formed in 1869 at a meeting at the Bull Hotel on Church Street, Preston.
It quickly became the leading club in the area, drawing crowds of up to 3,000 people to some of its games.
This rapid rise did not last however, and a huge increase in the popularity of soccer in the 1880s saw players and spectators leave the club and in 1885 Grasshoppers was dissolved.
In 1900 the club was reborn and quickly regained strength, with twice-weekly matches at their new ground near Avenham Park. By the 1920s PGRFC could field four teams and had added a touch of luxury to its facilities – two baths and a wooden hut.
Coun Peter Kelly, Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about Preston Grasshoppers rugby football club who are celebrating 150 years.
“The club is well known and supported by many people in the city and this display will tell its unique story and that of rugby in Preston.
“As a rugby fan I congratulate Grasshoppers on this anniversary and its great rugby union story in Preston, but I’m also looking forward to the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 as Preston has been chosen as a host training camp.”
The display celebrates Preston Grasshoppers’ history up to the present day. Admission is free.
* The introduction of rugby to local grammar schools – and later to secondary modern schools – ensured a steady stream of talent for Preston Grasshoppers Ruby Football club. Links with Lancashire Constabulary’s team from the 1960s brought further opportunities. In 1985 Blackpool police officer, Wade Dooley, extended the reputation of the club when he gained the first of his many England caps. By 2000 the club was ranked in the top 40 in England.
* Today Grasshoppers fields five men’s teams and two women’s teams, with younger members progressing through minis, junior and colts teams. Its current home at Lightfoot Green Lane hosts national games.