Furness Judo Club celebrate 60th anniversary

Former judoka from far and wide travelled back to Barrow to their old training ground to join local former & present judoka in attending Furness Judo clubs 60th anniversary evening on May 5th.

A great evening was had by all with members ranging across all generations of the club, attending, reminiscing on previous conquests, reliving numerous competitions entered, old training companions were reunited sharing long standing jokes and jibes. Varying judo styles and strategies were discussed throughout the evening and long into the night.

The clubs young and present judoka were treated to many a judo analogy from their elders, assisted by the collage of photographs and memorabilia collected and set out by Christine Tucker for every ones perusal.

Furness Judo, originally founded in 1950 by Mr Fred Edwards soon curtailed due to members being drafted into the services. A new start in 1952 saw Furness affiliate to the British Judo association in the Lancashire north west area region.

As a member of the BJA and holding an affiliation with the Budokwai in London, Furness could boast regular visits by “The grandfather of British Judo” Gunji Koizumi around these early years.

Furness Judo has trained at many a different venue over the years, the longest serving and most familiar being the assembly rooms at the Strand Barrow from 1954 – 1970.

Lyric Hall on Clifford Street was our home from 1970 – 2005 and was arguably our most successful venue with two mat areas, sprung floors to the lower dojo, used only for judo and with dedicated changing facilities, at one stage boasting a junior membership of 150 coached by any number of highly graded seniors,

Since 2005 the club has been based at St Matthews Community Halls Highfield Road Barrow.

They have a healthy amount of members in both juniors and seniors, both keeping the good Furness name alive competing and winning medals throughout the North West region and beyond. The present day seniors have built a good camaraderie and have started to produce a good haul of medals whilst earning a vast array of Kyu grade colours between them..

As always Furness has ran as a non-profit making operation and coaches are volunteers wanting to put something back into the sport. Many of the clubs members have contributed over the years. Three coaches/volunteers were recognised on the night as long standing service awards were received by the clubs present day stalwarts.

Peter Leach 1st Kyu & the clubs treasurer a judoka, long standing coach for over 40 years & long standing committee member.

James Wood who gained a competitive 3rd Dan as a formidable competitor in the late 60’s early 70’s, recently gained his 5th Dan Black belt, as club chairman & coach; still training the junior contingent of the club regularly on Mondays and Fridays.

Dennis Wrightwebb, now a 7th Dan red and white belt who was the clubs first Dan grade in 1964. After winning many national competitions, Dennis went on to become a member of and captain of the Great Britain international squad in the late 60’s and early 70’s narrowly missing out on an opportunity to fight in the Olympics. After retiring from competition, Dennis became more involved in the coaching of a very successful Furness club that can boast of producing over 30 black belts, a string of international players.

Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, Furness became the scourge of the North-West winning and bringing a high percentage of medals back to Furness not to mention varying national success considering the clubs relatively small catchment area as compared to the larger city clubs competing around the Lancashire, northwest area. This also led to Dennis coaching a successful North/west area senior men’s team who went on to gain a British title.

Dennis is still active in Furness Judo recently taking a small contingent of seniors to the Richard Dunn Sports centre in Bradford where gold and bronze medals were won by the Furness players

Club president Steve Murray presented these well deserved awards. As well as thanking present club coach Colin Tucker for his coaching and support with Christine Tucker for organising a commendable event.

Furness Judo now train at St Matthews Community halls Mondays & Fridays 18:45 until 19:45 for juniors over 8 years old. 20:00 until 21:00 for seniors over 16 years old.