The Braemar Club was established some twenty years ago by two rugby/cricket stalwarts of 'yesteryear', Pete Newland and Dick Blackman.
Within the ranks of our membership are many former players of The Old Surbitonians rugby and cricket clubs and other non-players who are also former pupils of Surbiton County Grammar School.
We are not an Old Boys organisation but do provide contact for old friends with similar interests and are the guardians of the Memorial Board on which are printed the names of former schoolboys of Surbiton personally known to some of our older members. The ground is dedicated to these Surbitonians who lost their lives in the service of their country (1939-45).
Pete Newland and Dick Blackman founded the Braemar when they were so moved by the story of the suicide of a former player and friend who had visited the ground but had found none of his former colleagues there. When his body was found he was surrounded by photographs and other memorabilia of his playing days at Cobham which had obviously meant so much to him.
Pete and Dick were so concerned that there was no actual focal point for past players of previous eras, particularly when visiting the ground in the hopes of spotting a friend or two on the touchline. Some sort of structure was required with some people to co-ordinate it. So they got on with it and formed The Braemar Club named after a building at Surbiton County Grammar School through which all new pupils passed to begin their school lives. At that time all past players of the Association would have been Old Surbitonians.
It was quite apparent that it was too easy to lose contact with former players of both rugby and cricket clubs and regular meeting dates were fixed so that old and friendly faces could seen at the ground on known occasions. Braemar promised that once a month they would meet on the touchline or boundary to act as this much needed focal point whereby former players could reminisce about past glories, enjoy a pint or two and see the current players 'not making the standards that we did in our day'.
This was also an effort to keep past players attached to the club in some way rather than letting them drift away into the wilderness - so it became a supporters' group within the CSA and it became a recognised section within the Association as much as the actual sports clubs. Members pay an annual subscription, part of which is passed on as their Association fee.
When Dick Blackman resigned as Co-Chairman/Secretary of Braemar, Stuart Davies joined Pete (Co-Chairman/Treasurer) on the Management Team.
Three newsletters per year keep members informed of events and activities at Cobham. Members are spread throughout the country, from Cornwall to Northumbria and seven members live abroad. All regularly let us know how pleased they are to receive news so we know we are doing the right thing.
Members have been generous in their financial support for the new Peter Marsh Pavilion to the tune, on average, of over £500 per member. Sadly a few members have recently passed away so there have been a few funerals to attend in an official Braemar capacity. Peter Marsh, himself, who died in June 2007, was a leading Braemar member.
Braemar is a supporters' organisation. Over the years, we have sponsored the annual Christmas Challenge rugby match and provided a cup; we have provided the award for the Young Player of the Year for both rugby and cricket when such was done; we have bought essential items of ground equipment (eg. seed drill) and provided other small items when asked, and are delighted to join in with the sponsorship of an appropriate barrel at the Beer Festival. We were pleased to organise fund-raising activities for the new pavilion and we keep our hand in with regard to ground maintenance with a monthly work party (everyone/anyone welcome!).
We hold an Annual Dinner along with our AGM when members meet to chat about past times and to contemplate the future.
We have an archivist, Ken Higgins, who was Old Surbs RFC Team Secretary for very many years and who has amassed lots of items of memorabilia with regard to the history of the clubs. Braemar has its own club tie (Blue, Maroon and Gold) and members can be recognised by their distinctive maroon sweaters and blue fleeces, all displaying 'The Lion of St. Mark' logo.
Some years ago the Association's internal Lottery, named the 1990 Club needed new leadership and Braemar took it on. Since then membership has increased from 100 to 160 although there has been a dropping off of late (recruitment drive underway). Half the money raised goes out in prizes and the rest goes into CSA funds.
Braemar is not an exclusive club but is open to any former players of Old Surbs/CSA who are recommended for membership. Present membership is about 100. Any former player who would like further information please contact either Pete (01296 730516) or Stuart (01483 476915).
Stuart R. Davies & Pete Newland