The History of your Western Raptors Junior Rugby Union Club

In 1999 The Blacktown Rugby Union Football club (the Warriors) led by Honorary President Doug Adamson and Honorary Secretary Neil (Red) Gledhill finalised moving from Grantham Reserve, Seven Hills (home of Blacktown Junior Rugby Union Club) to Charlie Bali Reserve, Doonside (formally Kareela West Reserve). This was part of a long term vision to secure the future of the sport of Rugby Union in the city of Blacktown. The move to the suburb of Doonside to centrally locate the senior club in the City of Blacktown to allow easier access to a home ground for

players and supporters from the western and northern suburbs of the City was an important step in this future direction.

Another important step for the sport of Rugby Union was to increase the number of players at both a Junior and Senior level in the City. To this end it was decided to attempt to form two more Junior clubs in the suburbs of Rooty Hill and Quakers Hill. It was hoped that all 3 Junior Clubs would join together at Under 19 colt’s age to form a ‘Super team’ at the Warriors and go on to play Under 21 colts and First XV with the Blacktown Rugby Club.

The reason for the selection of suburbs was to maximise the area for the two new clubs, and to protect the existing club at Seven Hills by surrounding them all with a minimum number of suburbs to draw players from. The proposed suburbs were: Blacktown Juniors – Blacktown, Seven Hills, Kings Langley, Toongabbie, Prospect. Rooty Hill Juniors – Doonside, Rooty Hill, Mount Druitt. Quakers Hill Juniors – Quakers Hill, Parklea, Riverstone, Dean Park.

At the completion of the 1999 season Neil (Red) Gledhill started to advertise at railway stations, shopping centre car parks and do letter box drops in various suburbs for the two new clubs. During these promotions Bill Archer (former Blacktown Juniors President), Anthony Gill and Paul Muller were recruited to the Rooty Hill Club and set about planning for the 2000 season with a view to fielding an Under 6 and Under 7 team. The Quakers Hill club also formed in this year with various parents assisting. (Quakers Hill folded after the 2002 season).

The first priority was somewhere to play. Blacktown Council was approached and was very helpful in securing Harry Dennison Reserve near Rooty Hill railway station. (This site serve the club well until 2002 when the incoming Rooty Hill committee (with help from a consultant) did a great job liaising with the council to secure Mittigar Reserve at Hassall Grove).

Registration days were held in Shopping Centres and at the new home ground, leaflets were distributed at schools and advertisements were put into school newsletters in an attempt to lift the profile of the club and attract players.

The new club was very lucky in the coaching and Managing ranks in the early years with Bill Archer, Anthony Gill, Ida Schaaf, Ben Manu, Dan Kaafi, Andy Latai, Hoani (Buttons) Te Whaiti and Sue Te Whaiti.

The Nepean Junior Rugby club folded in 1999, and the jerseys from Nepean were graciously donated to Rooty Hill. This is how the colours of Green and Red with Blue and Gold striping were decided! Purely for financial reasons. Black Shorts were chosen and Green and Red socks.

A popular motion picture series at the time of the formation of the club was Jurassic Park. Red, Bill and Anthony were recruiting at Plumpton Marketplace one Saturday in January 2000 when the subject of the name and emblem was brought up. The dinosaur Raptor was chosen partly because of the popularity of the motion picture series and the hope for the flow on effect of young players aged 5, 6 and 7 that might like the dinosaur because of the publicity surrounding the films. Also it seemed to sound good with the name Rooty Hill. Anthony Gill designed the logo within a week.

13 players ended up being recruited in the first year and play where ever needed in both the Under 6 and Under 7.

* Neil (Red) was tragically killed in a truck accident in April 2009 *

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