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Founded in 1876 by the Old Boys of the Philological School in Marylebone, London (later to become St Marylebone Grammar School). The club’s name is said to come from the “endurance, enthusiasm, and perceived invincibility of Saladin’s desert warriors of the 12th century”. The fact that their local rivals were called the “Crusaders” may also have been a factor. The Crescent and Star appearing in the club’s emblem are reminiscent of those appearing on the flag of Tunisia.

Saracens amalgamated with neighbouring club Crusaders two years later. In 1892, Saracens moved from Crown Lane, Southgate, to Firs Farm, Winchmore Hill. They then played on nine different grounds before the move to Bramley Road, Southgate, for the 1939–40 season (although the Second World War prevented them from playing there until 1945).

After their inaugural match against Blackheath, the Saracens had to wait another 9 years before Harlequins offered to include them on their fixture list. Saracens found it difficult to get games against first-class sides as the facilities at Bramley Road were so poor.

The club produced several internationals in the pre-league era, such as hooker John Steeds who won five caps representing England from 1949 to 1950; Vic Harding, a lock also for England from 1961 to 1962; and George Sherriff, an England back-rower from 1966 to 1967.

The club enjoyed fixtures with the leading clubs for many years and enjoyed a particularly successful time in the 1970s when they reached the semi-finals of the National Cup. Special games played at Bramley Road during this period include the 1971 match against a select International XV. The game was reportedly attended by a 5,000 strong crowd (the largest ever to watch a rugby union game in North London at the time). They came to watch a magnificent contest, ending Saracens 34 International XV 34.

This Saracens team also won the 1972 Middlesex Cup, beating Met Police in the final. Wasps were beaten in three Middlesex Cup finals in 1976, 1980, and 1986.