End of an era as Biggleswades’s water polo club disbands

Founding member Ray Fage holds aloft the ball at the club's final training session. EMN-200114-165106002
Founding member Ray Fage holds aloft the ball at the club's final training session. EMN-200114-165106002

It’s the end of a sporting era in Biggleswade after the sad disbandment of the town’s long-standing water polo club.

Formed in 1966, in association with Biggleswade Swimming Club, the team has been going strong for 54 years.

But last night (Monday), the last training session was held at the Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre, and the plug was pulled because of a shortage of players.

Committee member Matthew Fage said: “This is a sad occasion but, in the last few seasons, it has become increasingly difficult to attract new players.

“Many of the existing members found that time had caught up with them, as happens in most competitive sports.

“Water polo is a young person’s sport and with many youth swimmers going on to university and leaving the town, the club could not sustain a competitive team.

“It is with regret that a decision had to be made and, unfortunately, it was to disband the club after 54 years.”

The original reason for forming a water polo team in the early years was to ensure that members of the swimming club could be kept involved in a competitive sport.

Once they had finished competitive swimming when they reached the age of 17. they would cross over to water polo, with the option of playing or training.

It proved to be a big success, and the team enjoyed many league and cup victories, attracting players of the stature of Ron Turner and Stuart Poole, who represented Great Britain in water polo.

With long-serving members such as Alan Godfrey, David York and Gary Quinn forming the backbone of the club, Biggleswade thrived. ’Biggy polo’ became bywords for success, and founding member Ray Fage worked hard to promote and encourage water polo in the Bedfordshire area.

Initially, the club played and trained at the town’s outdoor swimming pool at Playfield Close until that closed. They relocated to the Saxon complex when that opened and sustained men’s and women’s teams.

At the final training session, Ray Fage was at poolside to referee a milestone friendly game between former members and current players. It was enjoyed by all.

After the game, the Saxon centre laid on refreshments, and also presented a card and some flowers to the committee, thanking them for their hard work and support.

A spokesperson for the water polo club added: “We would like to thank all those who attended our last training session. Also, thanks for all the kind messages that have been posted on our Facebook page and the e-mails from former members and supporters of the club.”