Carlisle Wrestling Club's Origins

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“A Carlisle schoolteacher's bid to revive the traditional Cumberland and Westmorland style wrestling in Carlisle made a modest but promising start at an inaugural meeting in the Strand Road Sports Centre, Carlisle , last night. Mr Roger Robson, member of a well-known Northumberland wrestling family near Alnwick, came to Carlisle Trinity School this Autumn on the heels of his biggest success of the summer wrestling, a middleweights win at Grasmere .He called last night's meeting of wrestlers old and new in the hopes of starting a city club again which might blossom out into a fully-fledged “academy” again.” (Cumberland News October 1970.)

That “modest” meeting was the seed for the creation of Carlisle Wrestling Club which marks its fortieth anniversary with a celebration night tomorrow at 7pm in Currock House Community Centre.

The sixties had seen a devastating crash of all the many Academies that formed in the post-War years, and I was determined to make a new start virtually outside the existing academy rules. There were no committee, and no bank balance. Instead, it ran as a sort of informal syndicate, with three great wrestlers, Ted Dunglinson, Jimmy Atkinson and Tom Harrington as the engine room and me as co-ordinator. At first we shared with Carlisle Judo Club for a few weeks before we ventured to have our own night in the Judo Room at the Strand Road Sports Centre, opposite Trinity Upper School , and run by the County Council. I remember when we first inspected the room with wall-to-wall wrestling mat. Ted Dunglinson, weighing sixteen stone, no longer a youngster but still as daft as ever, took one look and launched himself across the mat to execute a full somersault. The Strand Road facility was especially suitable for we did not need to find money for mats, and I was able to hold lunch-time wrestling sessions for Trinity pupils who then came to the club on Thursday nights. For some years the first hour of each week was run as an Evening Class with me as tutor. At times we struggled. One year we were on the point of closing as for some weeks we only attracted a couple of mismatched youngsters, different ones each week. On the last chance night, there was a rumble on the stairs and the four Potts brothers piled through the door, and the Gardhouse brothers, too, were part of one of the most successful periods of the club.

Girl's wrestling is part of the wrestling scene these days, but when Barbara Prudham came along with her brothers, and started wrestling she proved a match for the lads. Only when Robert Tomlinson and Simon Robson gained adult muscles could they guarantee to fell her. Our lads were used to being felled by her and took her participation as normal, but she probably caused the change in the rules which forbade mixed wrestling. Coaches from other areas thought that they lost from the sport lads whom she felled in the ring, and the CWWA rules were amended. When the Strand Road Sports Centre closed, a new venue was needed, and once more we found somewhere with their own mats, Carlisle College . The College served its purpose, but we missed the focus and control of a smaller dedicated space. Tom Harrington suggested that Currock Community Centre had judo mats in a small gym, and that was where we moved and where we now meet each Wednesday night of Winter. Our three main coaches are multi-champions: young Andrew Carlile, just retired Alan Jones, and remarkably, Tom Harrington, who was there when it all began.

Come along on Saturday Night and see us in action - 11th December (7pm at Currock Community Centre)

Written by © Roger Robson. Photographs by © Roger Robson, Julian Richardson or Linda Scott (December 9th 2010)

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