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The story of Saints legend Edgar Mobbs.

Edgar Mobbs

By Chris G
May 14 2002

Every year since 1921 the Barbarians have paid a visit to Franklins Gardens to play the East Midlands in the Mobbs Memorial match. The game is played in memory of Saints and England Captain Edgar Mobbs who was killed at Paasschendaele in 1917. This is the story of the man behind the legend. On the day of the East Midlands v Barbarians, Mobbs Memorial game we look at the life of Saints legend Edgar Mobbs.

Edgar Mobbs was born in Northampton in 1882 and educated at Bedford Modern. There was no sign of his rugby prowess in his early days, he could not even make the schools First XV.

It was not until his family moved to Olney that Edgar first took the oval ball game seriously, preferring hockey in his formative years.

He first played for Olney in 1903, then the Weston Turks, where there is a picture taken with the whole side wearing fezzes. (And Sarries thought they were unique!!) He then moved to town and joined Northampton Heathens.

In 1905 he was invited to join the Saints making his debut that September against Bedford. After a short spell at flyhalf he moved to the wing and two years later was appointed captain of the club.

After his first eventful season he was chosen to captain the Midlands in their match against the visiting Australians. The Mobbs lead Midlanders were the only side to beat the Wallabies on tour and Edgar had come to the notice of the English selecters.

He made his debut against the same Australian touring side at Blackheath, Twickenham was still a cabbage patch then, and scored Englands only try in a 9-3 defeat.

The next season he was chosen by his country to captain the national side in Paris. It was however to be his last game for England as then, just as now, politics played its part in the English rugby regime.

He played with the Saints until his retirement in 1913 but the storm clouds were already gathering over Europe.

Initially denied an officers commission because he was considered too old at 32 Edgar set about setting up his own battalion. He must have been a persuavive man, over 400 men answered Mobbs call.

Of these 264 were fit enough for active service and Mobbs Sportsmans Battalion was born. They were attached to 7th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.
Within a year Edgar, despite being turned down originally as an officer, was made battalion commander.

He was wounded three times and during convalescence played his last game of rugby in Northampton, an England v Scotland game at, of all places, the County Ground.

In 1917 he was promoted to Colonel just before the Third Battle of Ypres, otherwise known as Passchendaele. It was a battle that was to claim over 400,000 lives including Edgars.

Attacking a machine gun post that was holding up his infantry he got within thirty yards before he was mown down in a hail of bullets.
Despite his injuries he managed to write down the location of the post before he died.
His body was never found.

He was posthumously awarded the DSO and his name can be found inscribed with many tens of thousands of others at the Menin Gate at Ypres.

So today if you are going to the Gardens, or indeed even if you are not, take a moment to spare a thought for those thousand upon thousand of Edgars that never made it home.

When you go home, think of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning

We will remember them

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