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Tameside Borough were formed in 1982 at a meeting at the Star pub in Ashton and survived until 1997 (somewhere I've still got the handbook we self-published of the 15 years in the Pennine League. I was chairman when the club played those matches in Perpignan and Dublin and remember the French game very well. We asked for an early kick off so that the players could enjoy a weekend in the city before going to the Test match on the Sunday. However something must have been lost in translation because when we arrived in Perpignan there posters advertising a game against Palau (kick off 3 pm) and St. Maries 5-30. After a quick piece of diplomacy by the coach Dave Whitehead and myself we managed to duck the Palau game but the St. Marie's game was put back to 8-30 on the Saturday night. It doesn't take much imagination to guess what state the players were in come kick-off time. However with ten minutes to go we were level at 18-18 (despite having two French referees). Unfortunately our friendly hosts then brought on three fresh players (one of them a French international and we lost 42-18. However, we did get a much bigger trophy than the winning team and there was a late night reception at the town hall. You can read all about it in Dave Hadfield's book Thirteen Winters (It is in a chapter called The Season of The Win). A player shortage caused the club to fold and switch to summer in the new National League Three but after a nomadic five-year existence playing at Oldham RU, Dukinfield RU and Ashton on Mersey RU we agreed that we were fighting a losing battle and the club folded completely. But they were indeed happy days at Droylsden's Medlock Centre.
It appears that,according to MD, heritage players are fine as long as they are rubbish. But no matter what we would all like to believe RL is not a world game at professional level so if we did not use them we would have a World Cup of five teams as in the past. If that's what you want, then OK, but the argument that it will do no good in Italy or the USA if they have the odd good result is, in IMHO wrong. USA Soccer was built on the backs of foreign players, so was the game in Australia. Both are now regulars in the football World Cup. We have to start somewhere and a World Cup seems as good a place as any. You never know, it may even get locals interested in the game.
According to this month's Forty-20 magazine and I quote: "Northern Rail are itching to tie up another year's sponsorship for their Cup and have tabled a repeat offer to the RFL for 2014. But because the 2015 restructure debate rumbles on and the Cup is likely to disappear their hands have not been bitten off."
It seems like only yesterday that Nigel Wood was hailing the Finals Day at Halifax a roaring success, a credit to the teams, the fans and everybody concerned with the Northern Rail Cup. So here's an idea - let's scrap it. Ah well, this is Rugby League we are talking about.