Cliff Spracklen

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About Cliff Spracklen

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  1. Merci Claude. Bonne chance aux Sangliers! Je serai en Corse encore une fois plus tard cette annee.
  2. There was not the same historical tension between the two codes in Corsica that existed in mainland France, due to the Vichy prohibition. Hence no problem for Ajaccio RU having a RL section. Obviously the French RU Federation brought, or should I say "bought" the Corsican clubs back into union. After Gilbert Dautant,s tenure at the head of the French RL Federation, the French RL leadership did not appear to show the same interest in the Ile de Beaute.
  3. Voici mon effort Eric! "D'abord, quand il s'agit dela Corse, un coin que j'adore, il faut comprendre que sa population est relativement petite, a peu prêt 300.000, dont les concentrations les plus grandes sont à Bastiaau nord et Ajaccio au sud. Il y a plus des corses hors de l'île dans les grandes villes comme Marseille et Paris. Le fait que deux clubs de foot, SC Bastia et Ajaccio ont participès à la première division en France est incroyable. En effet Bastia est arrivé en Finale de la Coupe de France la saison dernière et a rencontré Newcastle il y a quelques ans dans la Coupe UEFA. Le foot reste le sport le plus fort et les clubs ont reçu maintes de subventions des pouvoirs publiques. Une fois que je souviens quand passant par Ile Rousse, nous cherchions le stade pour assister au match du club du coin, FAIR, face aux Reserves de Lyon, championnat de bas niveau.Le stade se trouve au sommet d'une montagne, dans un paysage beau, mais c'est en effet un complexe sportif et une stade moderne, pour un club effectivement du village. Même le rugby XV n'est pas assez fort, mais il y a plusieurs clubs quinzistes-Bastia, Ajaccio, Lucciana, la Balagne, Porto Vecchio et Corte. Bastia XV est le plus bien connu et mené un écart de la Féderation de Rugby XV. Il s'agissait des subventions et frais des voyages entre l'Hexagone et la Corse..Les clubs de l'Hexagone ne voulait plus voyager en Corse sans les subventions.La Fédé a reduit les subventions pour les frais de voyages entre la France et la Corse. Donc la Fedération Française de Rugby 13, sous la direction du savant Gilbert Dautant, a intervenu et a offert son soutien. Le premier match de Rugby 13 a été Bastia contre Cassis (de Provence). Autres clubs corses ont suivi Bastia, y compris Ajaccio, Corte, Bonifacio, Cervione et Biguglia. Bastia est arrivé en demi-finale du Championnat Federal en 1972. La France encourage rarement les identités nationaux et regionaux historiques, mais la FFR X111 a organisé un match entre une Selection de France et la Corse au Stade Furiani, Bastia. Le joueur Marius Leonelli est devenu le premier bastiais a porter le maillot de la France. Ajaccio participait pendant plusieurs saisons, montant a a deuxieme division nationale. Mais à cette époque les clubs anciennement quinzistes sont rentrés aux racines quinzistes, encouragés par les subventions généreuses offerts par la FFR XV. Mais Ajaccio XV continuait à monter une section et équipe de X111, à coté des ses interets de rugby XV pour quelques ans avant de la cessation de cette section. Mais en 2011 le Catalan Francis Cavato a lancé une equipe loisir dans ce club qui jouait de temps en temps. C'est interessantque le premier club de XV, Bastia XV, se trovait en danger de perdre son stade, au moment de son 50eme anniversaire. Le stade appartient a un interet privé, pas typique dans la France. Aujourd'hui ce club historique s'installe avec le club de foot et devient SC Bastia XV.
  4. Firstly with respect to Corsica, a place I love, and have visited a dozen times, you have to realise that it's population is relatively small, about 300,000, the biggest concentrations being in Bastia in the north and Ajaccio in the south. There are more Corsicans outside of France in cities like Marseille and Paris. The fact that two football clubs SCBastia and Ajaccio have performed in France's top division is amazing, as they have often punched above their weight. Indeed Bastia were in the French FA Cup Final last season and have played in a UEFA Cup Final against Newcastle. Football is by far the most popular sport and clubs have received generous support from local authorities. Once at Ile Rousse in the Balagne we were looking for a local lower league club for their match against Lyon reserves. The ground was mountain top, in a beautiful setting, but was a brand new modern sports complex and stadium. Even rugby union does not have the same popularity but there are are several RU clubs at Bastia, Ajaccio, Lucciana, the Balagne, Porto Vechio and Corte. Bastia XV are the best known, and were one of the leaders of a "breakaway" from the French Rugby Union over the issue of subsidised travel to games in mailand France. French mainland clubs were reluctant to travel to the island and subsidies were cut. So Bastia and several other clubs switched to League in 1972. The French RL Federation, under the far-sighted Gilbert Dautant nipped in offering support. The first RL match was Bastia v Cassis from Provence. Bastia were joined by other RU clubs from Ajaccio, Corte, Bonifacio, Cervione and Biguglia. Bastia reached the semi-finals of the France Federal Championships in 1973. Unusually for France, which has never been keen on encouraging historical national and regional identities, the Federation organised a France Selection versus Corsica at the Stade Furiani in Bastia, home of the football club. Bastia player Maurius Leonelli became the first Bastias to wear the French RL jersey. Ajaccio played for a number of years getting as high as the French second division. By then the former RU clubs had returned to their union roots, encouraged by sweeteners from the wealthy French RU. But the Ajaccio RU club continued with a Rugby League section until 1992, aswell as its main RU activities. In 2011 Catalan Francis Cavato temporaiyl relaunched a leasure side which played intermittently. Interestingly Batia XV , the islands top RU club was in danger of losing its ground, the ground, unusually for French sports clubs being privately owned, as it celebrated its 50th anniversary. They have now effectively moved in with the football club, changing their name in the process to SC Bastia XV.
  5. Thanks for the question. John I recall you coming to the Stanningley clubhouse when Bramley were looking after Robert Fassolette, who was responsible for the initial research on Vichy and Rugby League. Robert had brought his French Wheelchair RL to the UK for the first time having effectively created the sport in his professional role as Education Advisor on Disability and Sport. We found teams for the French to play against, the first being the Cleckheaton Cardinals Wheelchair Basketball team under Malcolm Kielty, now honoured for his tremendous work in establishing Wheelchair RL (not to be confused with Wheelchair Rugby). But to set the context Robert was taking on a new challenge having led the pressure group XIII Actif. Robert was Chair of the Association which comprised several key figures in French RL from Lezignan, Villeneuve, X111 Catalan, St. Martin de Crau, Roanne and many more. I was the sole UK member, being then Chair of the RL Supporters Association. We secured media coverage in the French national press. I myself had a full page article in The Guardian, very unusual, on the whole subject. We lobbied the French Government and on a visit to the European Parliament with Robert we met Lurent Fabius, now French Prime Minister, who was a "sympathisant". We met the then French Sports Minister Marie Georges Buffet, who promised action. This was at the same time as the French Union of Jewish Students was lobbying for investigation into the Vichy Government role in rounding up and transporting Jews, Communists, Gypsies and others to concentration camps and death. We always stressed that there were more heinous crimes committed by Vichy than the banning of RL. Nevertheless it was part of the same mindset and process and needed to be put right. Some further investigation by a Government academic was carried out confirming the discrimination against RL. i never saw the report. It was allegedly sent to the then Chair of the French RL Federation, Jean-Paul Ferre. He was the least popular President of alltime and was hostile to both Robert Fassolette and X111 Actif. I wrote to him asking why and received a most bizarre reply. He certainly did not want to rock the boat, accusing us of doing just that. But to my knowledge he did not circulate the report. Happily he stood down the following year and was replaced by a more enlightened Chair. I suspect at the time, though I have no evidence, that French RL benefitted for a period with extra funding from Government, eg for the French Tour to Australia, and various development officer posts. But since then French RL has enjoyed a better relationship and been regarded positively by French Governments, for example for in its social and development work in disadvantaged areas of greater Paris. Indeed former Toulouse Chair, Carlos Zalduendo, now French RL Federation Chair was invited to accompany French President Francois Hollande to Australia. Ironically one of those making positive noises some years ago was French Sports Minister Bernard Laporte, previously French national RU coach. As sport in France is perceived as something that Government should take a strong interest in, all sports receive government funding, via the various national, regional and local structures. This has been affected by more difficult general economic conditions in recent years, but is still crucial. Of course French RU now a major business, benefitting from megabucks from its commercial partners. So I suppose it might be less worried about any reopening of the Vichy wounds. I took much satisfaction at penning an Early Day Motion for David Hinchcliffe MP, some years ago condemning the Vichy regime and its' collaborationist allies, the French RU, for banning French RL during the War. I was even more delighted that it was presented before Parliament the very week that France was playing in the RU World Cup Final at Cardiff. French fascists and Vichy embraced the Nazi philosophy of sport which opposed professionalism, so RL was caught up in that view, but the motives for French RU in its' collaborration was mercenary , in seeing an opportunity to get rid of a rival code, that was rapidly overtaking it in popular appeal. What might happen now with the latest investigation is uncertain. But the treatment of RL, as suggested previously, would not be near the top of the list. However RL is in a much better place in France compared with the pre-X111 Actif era. The latest manifestation has been the announcement that Robert Fassolette must be delighted with, is that PE Teachers can now have a RL specialisation for working in schools. This was never allowed previously. You could specialise in any sport other than RL. So quite a breakthrough this year. French RL still has many problems, not least the state of the Elite competition, and the uncertainty after all these years of whether France will finally have its' second SL club, promised in 1994, assuming Toulouse make it through the divisions. But it is at least not having to cope with a hostile Government. Apologies for those who prefer one liners or short quips! But you did ask!
  6. John sent details by PM. But don't get Newsagent into bother as he is very good and has explained that it he has not received it.
  7. It has not yet arrived in Bridlington yet and it is Tuesday. My newsagent who delivers it is ringing up the distributor again. Usually no problems and I usually have it delivered first thing Monday. Posted this for your information, not complaining.
  8. Yes in theory, linked to Bisons Floors originally I believe, at Stourton. But I think that like many teams based on "works" or companies, the link was loosened, and it became a club in its own right. Most well known former Bisons player was Mick Appleyard, who captained the first GB BARLA Tour to the Pacific. Like Brassmoulders the spirit of Bisons lingers in the Hunslet Warriors.
  9. I wrote a piece on long gone amateur clubs in the Bramley Buffaloes v Cas Panthers Challenge Cup tie in 2008, mentioning the Twelve Apostles. I said then that they were from the St Helens, though I cannot confirm my original source. Bramley played both Saville Green and Buslingthorpe Vale just after the War. Saville Green was in East Leeds between Burton's factory and York Road. They played just opposite the old quarry formed by the workings for the Burmantofts brick works. Indeed Burtons themselves had a team and excellent facilties at their Torre Road site. Buslingthorpe Vale was a well know name as a team,just off Meanwood Road in Leeds, the name living on in the shape of the Bus Vale ground, home of so many memorable amateur finals. In Leeds there was also the famous Market District Boys Club. Yes it was in the Leeds city centre near to the market. It had links with Bramley as a provider of "Intermediates" as they were then termed (later Colts, today Academy), but it was like Hunslet Boys Club, a club that concentrated and went up to this age group. Most famous (or is it infamous!) product has to be League Express amateur RL correspondant Phil Hodgson. Only joking Phil! I am sure that Phil can shed more light. As to Angelo's recollections of Brassmoulders the spirit of "Brassy" lingers on in the corridors of Hunslet Warriors , along with that of Bisons. There were of course pub and working men's club teams popping up and disappearing with great regularity. Bramley Social lasted until just a few years ago, playing off Leeds and Bradford Road. In some senses West Leeds ARLFC are probably the successors.One team I had a particular affection for and connection to was the Brookfield team, playing from the Brookfield pub on Hunslet Road. One of the nearest pubs to Tetley's Brewery was the proud boast of landlord Mick Paine, himself part of a strong RL family. Mick was a sponsor and supporter of the Hunslet Boys Club teams and a regular participant on our trips to France. He was keen to see his lads get a slice of the French action, so I organised in the 1980's a match between the Brookfield and Toulouse Municipality RL team. They were mainly from the Toulouse Municipal RU club, but in those days there was a tradition of organising local authority RL tiourneys, featuring teams from local authorities and other public bodies. The Toulouse team also played at Clayton, who happily are still thriving.
  10. The merger period was a very bleak period for fans. In all 5 clubs were affected by the process, Hull and Huddersfield being beneficiaries, but the other 3 effectively losing their identity, nay existence. Fortunately the 3 clubs managed to be reformed. But then fans were a nuisance as far as some of our "leaders" were concerned. Fortunately the RFL now has a more positive view as its current support for Supporters Direct shows.
  11. 1. Every team playing Leeds (but Rhinos fans still very welcome at Bramley, as I proclaim face to face at games ) 2.Hunslet Old Boys 3. Hunslet (when not playing Bramley) 4. Carpentras, SO Avignon, Catalans Dragons, Toulouse, Lezignan, St Martin de Crau, Montpellier,Corbeil, Bretagne Nantes Vikings, Marseille, Cavaillon Luberon, CS Agip, France. 5. All other French clubs. 6. Fev and Widnes from the golden days (especially the era of Wright, Currier, Hulme bros etc at Widnes) 7. Hull Kingston Rervers 8. Stanningley 9. South Dorset Giants 10. Illawarra Steelers before the merger, (Illawarra-Dragons when in Wollongong), Paramatta 11. Hemel Stags (when not playing Bramley) 12. Welsh clubs generally. 13. Every "underdog" 14. South London Storm.
  12. I take it when you stroke French/North African players together you see them both as French. Before I respond about Aussies/Kiwis I it is worth reminding ourselves that there are many players of Arab or Berber origin, from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Having done some academic research for Carnegie on the subject of identity amongst such players, I can state categorically that they see themselves first and foremost as French, though proud of their origins. This applies whether they were born in France or came to France from North Africa. The more famous players are such as Jamal Fakir, Younes Khatabbi, Amar Sabri, Said Tamghart etc. Some are practising Muslims, some lapsed but all are proud of their roots and Frenchness. The largest number are of Moroccan origin, but there are plenty of algerian or Tunisian origin. In France you have Club chairs, directors, coaches and referees of North African origin, which is an interesting comparison with say Asian populations here. But re Aussies/Kiwis one of the constant arguements in France has been about limiting the number of overseas players, as in the UK. Certain clubs have a long history of bringing in Aussies/Kiwis etc. Pia, a small village of 4,000 inhabitants, near to perpignan has a tradition of Aussie Coaches and players, and buying success in the golden years just before the rise of Lezignan. The Aude clubs of Carcassonne, Lezignan and Limoux hve also usually had a few antipodeans. A The arguement has been two ways. On the one hand it stifles development of local players, on the other hand the presence of Aussie players/coaches raises stasndards. it was felt there might be a further reduction in the number of overseas signings, but the elite clubs voted against it. Instead the Fedweration brought in a complicated formula where clubs can have as many as they like but pay a premium to the Federation on an increasing scale for each extra overseas player. A financial disicentive to having too many. Clubs like Lezignan have always had a strong Junior set up, so they could argue they were doing more than most in development terms, so could justify overseas signings as well. Other clubs development has been patchy. It has improved considerably at Carcassonne but there was atime when it was not so developed. Ditto Limoux. I can remember a time when Pia did not have a Junior team, but it is a requirement for Elite clubs these days, and Pia has had several juniors loaned out to the Dragons Junior programme.. The clubs that have put the most into development besides Lezignan, gave been Avignon abnd Carcassonne. UTC is slightly different as there is now the link with the Dragons. Toulouse have an excellent Junior set up, but most of their Juniors last year, and increasingly this new season will be turning out for St Gaudens in the Elite, under the new St Gaudens-Toulouse banner. There are sometimes difficult dynamics within French clubs, as the antipodeans are ofdten on a contract, whilst the fRench players are on lesser contracts or even match terms. This surfaced at Pia this summer, when Christophe Calegari, who made French call-up squads last year, dropped a division to Elite 2 neighbours Palau, because he thought, 5rightly or wrongly, that the Pia Board was treating French players less well, in comparison with overseas players. But French Elite club budgets have been under threat and there is no sign of this going away, apart from Lezignan who are an increasingly professional operation in every sense. Of course Aussie back packers have a great tradition of just turning up, finding a bar job, and playing for less, which is why you can find the odd one or two below elite level. But it is rare for an Elite 2 club to recruit directly from Oz, and Elite 2 side RC Lescure Arthes Minotaurs, in the Tarn, not far from Albi caused a sensation when they signed Aussie Adam Shaw last season. What you have seen this year are an increasing number of players coming to France from the UK, whether UK based Aussies or Brits. Limoux haveproclaimed their Welsh connection this time round, w3hilst Lezignan Coach Aurelien Colgni has close links to the Crusaders.
  13. Cheers. Such generosity of spirit! Thankfully that's not what makes RL such a warm and friendly family. But best wishes to all teams playing this weekend even yours, which judging by the anonymous nom de plume you hide behind I assume must be top drawer.
  14. Getting warm! "Very few" is a bit of an exaggeration. But there is a steep grass banking, lovely to sit when its warm and sunny. A cracking atmpsphere nevertheless. And excellent bar and parking facilities and a full colour glossy 56 page match programme tomorrow. For public transport served by 16 (Leeds to Pudsey) and 508 (Leeds to Halifax), and reverse. Alight at Coal Hill Lane/Intake Lane junction.