In its rich history, Bristol has nurtured some of the great stars of the past and present.
We would like to thank Dave Fox and Mark Hoskins for allowing us to take advantage of the superb research they did for their book "Bristol Football Club (RFU) - 100 Greats". Dave and Mark contributed the information and the images.
If you would like to get more information on the club, its players and its history, then you can buy their book at most leading bookshops in Bristol.
To search for a particular player, use the Search box below.
Position Second Row
Date of Birth Unknown
Honours Gloucestershire, Western Counties, RAF, Combined Services
Career 1952 - 1972 (393 games)
Scored 222 pts (73 tries, 1dg)
Derek Neate, a second row or number eight who captained Bristol in two separate spells, had an incredible record of service. He made his Bristol United debut in 1952 and was still being called upon for occasional United games in the mid 1970s, playing his last game in 1977. Renowned for his lineout skills, powerful running and long passes, he was one of a crop of talented forwards who flourished during John Blake's open rugby era and he was unfortunate not to win an England cap.
Neate, who was educated at Portway School and Bristol Technical School, was originally a soccer player, but was converted to rugby by former Welsh international Les Williams. He was a scrum half at Portway, a centre for Avonmouth Juniors and then a forward for Bristol Boys. He was spotted playing for Avonmouth Old Boys and invited for a Bristol trial. In his first season he played 21 United games and made his first team debut in January 1953 against Harlequins. He was in and out of the first team for the next two seasons and was a member of the Bristol squad which appeared as a guest side in the first Snelling Sevens at Newport in 1954.
By 1955/56 Derek Neate was a regular first team player. He appeared in 36 games during the season, the most by a forward, and unusually was awarded both his cap and his blazer. He was then called up for national service, so the RAF had first call on him for the next two seasons. Fortunately he was stationed locally at Locking and Pucklechurch and could turn out for Bristol when he was free. He played in four inter-service games for the RAF and in 1958 was a member of the side which won the inter-services championship by defeating the Royal Navy and drawing with the Army. He also appeared for the Combined Services, and in 1956/57 played in his first England trial as part of the Whites team which beat the Colours 20-0 at Bristol. Neate was unfortunate that his playing career coincided with those of such England lineout greats as John Currie and David Marques but even so he appeared in two more trials and was a travelling reserve for England on several occasions.
Neate returned to Bristol in 1958/59 after his spell in the RAF and was a regular in the first team for most of the next decade. He was Blake's vice captain in 1960/61, playing in 43 of Bristol's 46 games and scoring twelve tries and was appointed captain for the following season during which he played 38 times. He continued as skipper for the 75th Anniversary season, a season badly disrupted by the severe winter, and was praised in the club's Annual Report for his excellent captaincy and his support at social functions.
Derek Neate was a regular in the Gloucestershire team for many years, making 48 county appearances in all. The county reached the Championship final in 1959 and he was a member of the side which lost 14-9 to the then-mighty Warwickshire at Bristol. He played twice for Western Counties against touring sides, appearing in the 42-0 loss to South Africa at Gloucester in 1960 and in the 22-14 defeat against New Zealand at Bristol three years later.
In 1965/66 Neate was invited to captain Bristol for a second spell and led the side to one of its finest records. Thirty-nine games were won and eight lost out of forty-seven and Bristol were unofficial English champions. The number of victories was a new record which has been equalled since but not bettered. Neate played in 36 games during this memorable season but was less fortunate in 1966/67 when illness and injury spoiled his final year as captain. He was able to play in only sixteen games but inspired his team to a new points record of 862. Once again the Annual Report was fulsome in its praise of his leadership and service.
Derek Neate's retirement from the captaincy brought his regular playing days to an end but he continued to serve the club as a committee member, coach and selector. He remained very fit and was always ready to turn out for the club if required. He played his final two first team games in 1972 when Bristol were decimated by county calls, making his last appearance in a 28-3 victory at Weston-Super-Mare. His closing minutes in a first team jersey were painful ones as he had to leave the field with a cut head following an accidental clash with team mate Pete Sams. Even then Bristol had not seen the last of his playing talents. He played eleven more United games over the next four seasons. When Alan Morley was injured in a United game at Cwmbran on New Year's Day, 1977 he was replaced by Neate, who was then United coach, and who had tossed a coin with team secretary Alan Ramsey for the privilege of playing. Thus one of the club's greatest forwards appeared in a Bristol shirt 25 years after his first match.