London Wasps

Introduction

The Eton and Middlesex Football Club was formed in 1867, and the club changed its unwieldy name to The Wasps not long after.

The Wasps were founder members of the Football Association, and as such they were invited to the founding meeting of the Rugby Football Union in 1871, but no representative showed up. There are various possible explanations for this: either, the representative was sent to the wrong place at the wrong time, or, according to some, he went to the pub beforehand and was too drunk to attend! Whatever the reason, the Wasps forfeited their right to be one of the original members of the Union.

The Early Years

The club’s first home was in Finchley Road, but they were to lead a nomadic existence for some years before settling down. In 1923 the club purchased land in Sudbury, which became the club’s permanent home.

The side experienced its first period of great success in the 1930s. In the 1930-31 season Wasps, captained by Ronnie Sawyer, went unbeaten. Neville Compton, perhaps the best-loved Wasp of all time, also played during this run of success. Compton would stay on at the club in various capacities for most of his life, retiring from the position of club president in 1988, a year before he died.

The Wasps defeated opponent after opponent in the 1930s, but the Second World War suspended play for some years. After it resumed in 1948, Pat Sykes became the first post-war Wasps player to earn an international cap when he played for England against France. That year, the club took the Middlesex 7s title. In the period that followed, the Wasps academy came to act as a nursery for Welsh and English internationals.

1950s to 1970s

In 1951 the Wasps came second in the Middlesex 7s, and the next year they took the title. However, the 1960s and 1970s were poor for the Wasps, and they did not manage to acquire any honours over the course of these two decades. Indeed, the club’s morale was at an all-time low until 1979 when two famous international players, Englishman Roger Uttley and New Zealander Mark Taylor, joined the squad. Following their arrival, a steady trickle of internationals joined the Wasps, and the club’s fortunes started to pick up.

In the two-year period between 1983 and 1985 no less than nine Wasps players represented England. In May 1989 for games against Romania the England A, England B and England Under 21s sides were all captained by Wasps