Saracens club on the road
After 136 years of nomadic existence, in 2013 Saracens decided it was time to settle down.
The Saracens name can be traced back to the famous desert warriors led by Saladin in the late 12th century. They were renowned for their extreme mobility which is pretty apt for the well-healed north Londoners who started out in Southgate, train in St Albans, play in Barnet, occasionally walk out at Wembley, have dabbled in Abu Dhabi, Brussels, Milton Keynes and have even made the long haul trip to Hong Kong for a game.
The first place Saracens could call home was Primrose Hill in 1876 when the Saracens Football Club was founded by the Old Boys of the Philological School in Marylebone (later to become Marylebone Grammar School) and its first fixture was at Primrose Hill playing fields with the red star and crescent worn. Amalgamation with neighbouring club, the Crusaders, occurred in 1878.
After a move to Crown Lane in Southgate, the club upped sticks and settled down at Firs Farm, N.21 This first-rate set-up endured for some 12 years, facilitating the club's growth in physical stature and playing prestige.
However, when the lease expired in 1938/39, the owners, Edmonton U.D.C, had decided that they needed the land for building purposes. Saracens had played on nine different grounds before the move to Bramley Rd for the 1939/40 season (although the war actually prevented them from playing there until 1945).
Almost mythical in Saracens history, the public park that launched the careers of such illustrious players such as John Buckton, Dean Ryan, Jason Leonard, Tony Diprose and most famously, Richard Hill, was Saracens’ proud home from 1939 until 1996. After the club moved to Enfield FC, before their Hertfordshire hiatus at Watford FCs Vicarage Road, they are proudly back in Saracens territory at the clubs state-of-the-art stadium in NW4.
The Watford ‘home’ of Saracens would be the stage for some of the club’s most famous and talent players. Legends such as Richard Hill, Thomas Caistengede, Kevin Sorrell, Kris Chesney and many, many more would leave an indelible mark on any Saracens fans memory with some superb performances.
There would be ups and downs during the clubs stay in Hertfordshire, with many coaches coming into the club, some failed to deliver success, and some came mighty close. The club’s Heineken Cup run in the 2007/2008 season under the tutelage of Alan Gaffney would be one of the happier memories of the clubs stay at the home of the Hornets.
So then the move to the club’s current home in NW4, Allianz Park. The move to Barnet is one of a series of markers in the evolution of Saracens.
A transition which started with the appointment of South African Brendan Venter as Director of Rugby in 2009, an influx of playing talent from his home nation, a huge emphasis on producing local talent and his eventual handing over of power to Mark McCall culminated in that maiden Premiership crown which went on to be repeated in 2015.
Before the move to Allianz Park, Saracens took ‘home’ games to Brussels’King Baudouin Stadium, where they defeated French giants Racing Metro 92 in European Rugby’s first ever game in Belgium. Sarries flexed their muscles in Brussels that day, beating the Top 14 side 30-13 in front of a bumper 18,212 crowd.
Later that year, Sarries would travel up the M1 to Milton Keynes to face fierce rivals, Northampton Saints.
Saracens previous homes
- Primrose Hill, Kings Langley
- Crown Lane, Southgate
- Firs Farm, north London
- Bramley Road, Barnet
- Enfield FC, Enfield
- Vicarage Road, Watford
Saracens on the road ‘homes’
- Brussels: King Baudouin Stadium vs Racing Metro 92 October 2012
- Milton Keynes: stadium:mk vs Northampton December 2012