It is probably a grave error I am about to make in revealing the origins of LPRFC. The recollections will undoubtedly bore the disinterested majority and disappoint the fervid minority. The incentive for beginning a team began during my first practice with the Chicago Lions when everyone was instructed to jog two miles to the beach. Not up to such a Herculean task and not having been spoken to for over an hour, I faded into the darkness.
During the ensuing weeks, my brother Jerry, college teammate Tom Williamson and I plotted the birth of a rugby team to the spirit and spirits of rugby rather than the will to win. In the darkness of the old Oxford Pub on Clark and Menominee and driven by the brewing genius of Augie Busch, we began recruiting prospects. It was immediately apparent that even with no experience, the 6’3″ 130lb bar tender Harlan Stern was a natural – in many respects. Under similar circumstances several new recruits were found. A new name for the team had to picked and many were considered, but monetary and alcoholic considerations prompted the name of Oxford’s – sounding appropriately English. When our welcome in the bar dimmed later in the year, a change was necessary and Lincoln Park was chosen for many reasons.
1. To commemorate the events in Lincoln Park surrounding the recent 1968 Democratic National Convention.
2. To commemorate the Zoo and our likeness to it.
3. To avoid frequent name changes due to the capricious nature of local bar owners.
4. To convince local officials to give out field permits, and lastly
5. To enable befuddled players and recruits to find us.
Colors had to chosen if jerseys were to be ordered. We unfortunately thought it was humorous to decide on colors which were deemed particularly gaudy – emerald and banana. Jerseys were then ordered from Don’s Body Builders Sports Shop on Damen and Division. It should therefore have been little surprise when our first order arrived looking like sheer Roy Rogers shirts with lace-up necks. Their lives were mercifully short.
Scheduling was haphazard at best, since we were such newcomers and much groveling was required. Our big break came when NIU canceled their match with Fort Wayne at the last minute. This was particularly embarrassing since their captain, Todd Davis had arranged to be married on the field at half-time with local TV and radio play by play coverage after weeks of spot commercials had been run.
The club has been near extinction many times. It is only through the help of my brother Jerry, Irwin Schuler, Frank Blossom and the others that we made it through the first two years. While I spent countless hours organizing games, fields, equipment, rosters etc. to the detriment of my medical studies, I don’t regret it for a moment. When Jerry tells me of the latest accomplishments of the team I am both envious and happy. I still have many pictures, movies, posters, trophies, a green and gold jock and a can of Chicago air here in Colorado to help me relive those years. I still enjoy hearing of LPRFC’s exploits and hope they will always continue. Don’t fuck it up now!