Excuse my ignorance Parky, I've just tried and failed to get a list of the current amateur RL teams in Leeds. Is this really the halcyon era for amateur RL in Leeds? Do you really believe that the amateur RL scene in Leeds is the best in the NH? If so can you put some flesh on the bones for me please?
Your not ignorant, and it's a pleasure to indulge you.
I can't remember the first amateur match I went to (it was probably Bradford University where I played when they were short, clubs had to be short to play me seriously) but we had Milford, Stanningley, Bisons and Middleton on Saturdays and on sundays we had a 20 team sunday league that was 11 a side due to player shortage. The latter actually died out pretty quickly. Stanningley played on a park and changed in a pub cellar. I was a young ref then and ran the line against Oulton. You had to run behind the crowd at times.
BARLA assisted a growth not just in the spread of clubs, but in the facilities at clubs over the years. In the modern SL area with Leeds doing so well things have really accelerated. Stanningley today is no longer a pub team, it's a club more valuable to Rugby League than maybe several CC2 clubs. They produce professionals and draw crowds to big games. Even down Hunslet a visit to the Warriors is quite remarkable compared to my first Hunslet amateur visit when I reffed Parkside.v.St. John Fisher and was told I was the worst referee they had had (late penalty for "persistent" offside lost Parkside the game).
I'm not going to do definitive lists. I think the perpetrator of this point can go do his own, but there's a lot of well organised junior RL in age ranges e.g. Milford, Rodley, Easts, Leapords, Queens, Pigeons, Warriors, Stanningley, Wests, Wortley, etc. most in great facilities and well coached. The senior clubs have A teams at times and there's Easts, Milford, Queens, Stanningley, Warriors as the big guns who deliver players like Ablett,Walker, JJB, McGuire, Mathers and I won't go on but suffice to say the city has delivered 22 top professionals to Superleague. That beats hull, that comes only second to Wigan.
It doesn't stop there. Leeds Rhinos are getting schools playing RL who played RU before. Temple Moor was where two of my mates went. They went all the way in a schools championship. In the student arena where I played the Uni, the met and the Trinity colleges run a couple of teams each I think. Leeds Met are the top club who play in the Challenge cup against professionals and hold their own. They get on telly. I find that breathtaking. Up where I am we have the fabulous Akkies with several sides inc a top womens side overshadowing their RU counterparts. There's a big brass statue of Pottsy in the car park. L'Angela Mysterio is head of their supporters club
Amid all this Hetherington has stated two more amateur clubs are being lined up in his plan for RL in the city. I won't reproduce that again but show me another SL club with grass roots plans like that. I'm not saying Hetherington created all this but he works hard to directly encourage and facilitate it with many initiatives. The Broughtons were inspired to play and turn pro and their picture is up in the local school. The RL desert that was once north Leeds produces pro's.
But according to some it's Hunslet and Bramley that are the "grass roots". If they are forced into oblivion apparently the game will go on to die. I find that breathtakingly ridiculous when I can wander around Leeds on a Weekend and see the grass roots game (miniscule compared with soccer still) so much bigger and so much more vibrant often at the expense of a shrinking RU.
Few years ago we took the kids to Hetheringtons kids day ay Headingley and had a great time. My lad has signed pictures of himself with top stars on his wall JJB, Danny Mac, Ryan Bailey, Ryan Hall, Jamie P etc. All Leeds Internationals and big names. The kids love it. The kids are inspired by it and superleague. At the seasons end with friends we all keep the kids back at the last match and all the players go round the ground and say hello and sign autographs for the kids.
I dont care what happened in terms of fans 40,50,60 years ago. The real point is when hetherington can get an average crowd of as many as nearly 17,000 in 2009 all coming from all parts of Leeds that generates a profit as does the magnificent facilites. Profits enable growth and Hetherington delivers it.
What earthly profits do small championship clubs deliver? How much did Bramley and Hunslet used to generate??
You may think this is odd - someone who's a Hunslet fan not blindly "supporting" his side and his other once favourite club. I followed them as well as most fans up to the modern era, but today I follow RL and want what's best for the game. I'm ultra nostalgic and will physically help preserve the memory of Bramley and Hunslet, but it's the success of the Leeds model I want to see replicated.
We need more big clubs on big crowds making real profits (rather than the ugly struggles of some so called "Super" clubs) they can plough back into the grass roots game in their region and grow and sustain it like it's happening in Leeds. If CC clubs are casualties then you can't have everything. But the fact is the kids don't want flat cap Rugby league, that's for old men like me, and too many old men like me are selfishly calling for a return to or at least a preservation of the past.
Edited by The Parksider, 27 January 2013 - 09:04 AM.