With his boyish blonde curls and overlarge shirt, stood smiling out from the back row of the photo, Charles Dearing could easily pass for much younger than his 25 years. Whether this apparent youthfulness owes much to the health-giving properties of the Norfolk air in which he was born, being the youngest and only son of 5 children, or his work as a primary school teacher, is open to conjecture.
Any opponents taking him lightly though would do so unwisely. A stalwart of the Saracens forward pack for at least three seasons, he is first recorded in a Club fixture by ORG Williams in 1908/09, playing in the 17-4 defeat of Leytonstone. The accuracy of these teamsheets is thrown into doubt when it is noted he is playing alongside such club luminaries as the powerful H. Andoff and mercurial S.A. Racen…
Born in Norwich in 1886 to father Richard, a Stationary Engine Driver, and mother Emma, Charles was the youngest of their five children. Older sisters Emma, Florence, Ruth and Ellen were all to become part of the garment trade, as either Tailoresses or dressmakers.Whether this obvious genetic disposition to perfecting intricate motor skills translated across into Charles’s deftness of handling is unknown, and it was not a career path along which Charles chose to tread.
Instead, upon completing his early education, he was to take up a place studying ‘intermediate science’ at Borough Road College, a forerunner of the modern day Brunel University, where he received a second division degree from the University of London. The University archives even remember him as having played for the rugby club whilst there, accounting for his rugby education prior to joining Saracens.
With graduating in 1907 and playing in the Saracens team of that year, it is a fair assumption to assume he had moved to North London in that year, having taken up work in Stephen Street School, Marylebone. 1911 finds him as a boarder in the house of Gardener Walter Vickers, alongside a retired Indian civil servant, military billing instructor and two fellow teachers. Of note is perhaps one of these fellow teachers, Reuben Alan Denmark. Further research would be needed, but being of the same age and also from Norwich may well have made Reuben a long-time friend. With his own sister Ethel working as a Tailoress overlooker, the similarities are remarkable.
Sadly, Dearing disappears from Saracens in the 1913/14 season, with the possibility that he had enlisted into the London Rifle Brigade, where he was serving during the war.
We will pick up Charles’s story at a later date, as his remarkable war service deserves considerable attention of its own