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15 years on

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Initially, several mergers between existing clubs were proposed:

1. Castleford, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers would form Calder

2. Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers would form Hull"

3. Whitehaven, Workington Town, Barrow and Carlisle would form Cumbria

4. Warrington and Widnes were to form Cheshire

5. Salford and Oldham were to form Manchester

6. Sheffield and Doncaster were to form South Yorkshire

They were to be included with the following stand-alone clubs: St Helens, Wigan, Leeds, Bradford Northern, Halifax, London, Paris and Toulouse.

Which of these would have been better than the current situation for clubs in that area and which will eventually happen anyway?

I don't really know, but I do think that you cannot dismiss mergers as unworkable or "not in the culture" when there is no evidence to support that because none have been properly tried.

I accept entirely that when stood on the terraces of the Jungle Sunday Cas's 6,000 fans and wakeys's 5,000 "hardcore" fans (not all of the 5K were there of course) if joined in matrimony may only turn out to produce anything between 2,000 fans or 8,000 fans - who knows exactly, but short term the likelihood would be lost fans.

But that does not negate the idea of mergers at all. If HKR have 7,000 fans then the club may be financially unviable unless lot's of workplace and pavement accidents continue to be suffered and litigated through Mr. Hudgell.

The whole purpose of any mergers "alienating hardcore fans" is based on the fact that those hardcore fans often do not produce enough income for a SL club to be viable without sugar daddy support. A restructuring of a club through merger is designed to attract wider support such that in time the merged club becomes a sustainable club. And that support needs building over time.

Culture is an important thing. There's no real culture of RL in west London and so Quins have low crowds. Will the culture build and will Quins ever have crowds that can sustain their business. We don't know, but those against the London club will say that all the evidence is there already that people won't watch RL in London so kick them out - an easy if disingenuous argument. If culture is important it has to be allowed to grow. Similarly if there's no culture for watching a combined Hull/HKR now then a merged club won't pull 20K regularly.....But would it 20 years down the line? Culture is only a short term barrier.

The Cas/Wakey/Fev thing is interesting - had a club being merged there and given a better name than proposed (maybe something with a culture heritage like a mining name would have done better) would that club now be able to draw the magic 10,000 sustainable fan level?? More importantly would they now have a stadium and be secure in SL? Would the old tripartite culture be slipping away?? Would the club be challenging for honours and would the new fanbase care about the past???

I think maybe so. Over many years I have watched the fans come and go and bottom line is if you have a financially unsustainable club because your fanbase or customer base is low then you lose money and eventually lose your standing in the league and the fans peel away anyway. "Hardcore" support in effect can only be counted in the hundreds.

The fact seems to be fans love success and top level RL. That's the difference between 1000 hardcore HKR fans at a Chorley game against the 7,000 now watching the Australian version of HKR. They are a flakey bunch and if a merged club offered SL rugby and a good day out they will come, maybe not tommorrow but in time.

But heed the dark dire warning that if a traditional club abandons it's fans then those fans will "walk away" and there'll be no fans? e.g. if the Hull clubs merged "west Hull would all turn to soccer"

I suspect that the top level RL game itself is much a stronger draw than the tradition of any club by miles, and if it is not then RL is doomed anyway........

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I'm confused. Which of those are top flight english rugby league clubs?
Did you state you were only interested in rl? My reading of your point was that you thought mergers weren't part of uk culture...

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I'm choosing to ignore your patronising negative attitude and address your post without resorting in kind.

The trouble with this argument is, rugby league isn't strictly a business. People who say it is are missing a whole lot about it. If clubs were strictly a business, no one in their right mind would watch a losing team. If Coca Cola starts to taste awful and gives people illness the customers wont still buy it out of loyalty, they will switch to pepsi. Yet I've seen fans go to watch a Halifax team in super league that didn't have a hope of winning a game all season. You can't treat the fans as customers, they are different. There is an emotional attachment and a sense of community spirit you don't get from true businesses. Sure, they run accounts, and have overheads, but the customers in this case are not the type who will simply wander from product to product when it suits them. Their loyalty is a strength and a weakness. It means you can't simply bank on them going elsewhere if you mess them around and merge and subdue their club. It's more than just a brand to them. But it also means some of them will carry on supporting through thick and thin no matter what is going on with the business side.

Merge Wakey and Cas and a number will refuse to go because it wont be the same and the new entity will represent something else they are not accustomed to or emotionally attached to. You have to accept that no matter what you think of these people. You have to hope that in the long term, you can gain lost ground and overtake that considerably otherwise you are sacrificing two working clubs just to risk one which may work slightly better.

Your last paragraph is of supreme irrelevance to this argument so I wont bother replying to it because you shouldn't have bothered posting it.

Nail on head. It's called tribalism. It doesn't make sense for there to be two premiership soccer teams in Liverpool whose grounds are not only within comfortable walking distance, but with sight of one another. But there they are. And they get good crowds week in week out. Sport is not a business. I don't know how you'd describe it. Businesses don't get volunteers in to help them run their operations - RL Clubs do. Businesses don't depend on their rivals' surivival for their own survival, RL Clubs do, businsess don't rely on amateur versions of themsleves to provide skilled workers. And as you say if businesses start producing poor quality product then some of those who buy that product will (eventually) go elsewhere. But most RL fans stick with their teams through thin and thinner.

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Logically mergers make sense, but , as has been pointed out this is sport, when your team aren't coming up to scratch you don't go and support the team 5 miles away until your lot get their act together.

also for a merger to work, the clubs have to be within striking distance of each other, BUT, its those clubs who traditionally have the bitterest rivalry, Batley and Dewsbury for example, bitter rivals, both unsuccessful teams (yeah I know :rolleyes: well done Batley :D ). so logically speaking prime candidates for merging, but having mates who support both teams I know, it just wouldn't work, they hate each other too much. Likewise when it was floated that Halifax merge with Bradford, the Fax fans just said no way would we go to watch a Bradifax team, we hate 'em, we want to beat 'em not merge with 'em.

I won't pretend to know the answer but I think merging is dead, it was never alive in fact.

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Likewise when it was floated that Halifax merge with Bradford, the Fax fans just said no way would we go to watch a Bradifax team, we hate 'em, we want to beat 'em not merge with 'em.

I won't pretend to know the answer but I think merging is dead, it was never alive in fact.

I agreed with that 15 years ago - but times have changed for some - I would watch a merged Halifax/Bradford side, if they were based at the Shay and the home colours were blue and white. Could have Red, Amber and Black for the away shirt.

Edited by a.n Other

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Take a look at Oldham, a population of 100,000+ and a hot bed of RL, sadly its attendences average c 1000!

try 210,000+

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Sport is not a business.

:lol::lol:

Of course it is, don't be so naive.

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Nail on head. It's called tribalism. It doesn't make sense for there to be two premiership soccer teams in Liverpool whose grounds are not only within comfortable walking distance, but with sight of one another. But there they are. And they get good crowds week in week out. Sport is not a business. I don't know how you'd describe it. Businesses don't get volunteers in to help them run their operations - RL Clubs do. Businesses don't depend on their rivals' surivival for their own survival, RL Clubs do, businsess don't rely on amateur versions of themsleves to provide skilled workers. And as you say if businesses start producing poor quality product then some of those who buy that product will (eventually) go elsewhere. But most RL fans stick with their teams through thin and thinner.

Point 1. Liverpool's football clubs are both technically insolvent and will not be able to build their own grounds so may need to share facilities to ever compete at the top again. If they were outside the Premiership I'm certain that some officials would be exploring the prospect of a merger as has happened in Sheffield & Bristol

Point 2. Business loyalty, especially within retail and leisure is actually quite a major aspect, it is usually referred to as inertia because in business loyalty to a failing product is thought to be bad. I remained loyal to the Independent through many years, I will not go to other DIY stores other than B&Q and my clothes shopping is done at Austin Reed. Are there other places available that may offer better product at the same or lower prices? Probably, but I'm not going to invest too much time in finding out

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Anyway, mergers aren't the right thing to do, but I think that we have to accept that in the longer term, natural selection will leave one of each of the pre-merged teams at a higher level than the others.

I think the first place we'll see this will be with Wakey, Cas and Fev - I feel that SL can only support one of these in the long run and eventually (if the game grows sufficiently) that club will go on to represent the region.

That's the nail on the head Mr. P.

People often say the fans won't watch a merged club, not that there's any evidence of it and not that those who say it will pay any heed to a number of people on here who on a regular basis say "well if it happens I actually WILL watch a merged club". Fans will react various ways and come and go for various reasons.

Take the professional clubs in Leeds. In my first ten years in Leeds watching RL I saw Hunslet at Wembley, Leeds at Wembley and Bramley lift the BBC Floodit trophy.

In that time there were about 1,500 Bramley fans on a good day 2,000 Hunslet fans on a good day and 6,000 Leeds fans on a good day.

Now the only good days are up at Headingley where the Rhinos draw a current average of 15,000 fans.

Nobody has to merge at all, it is merely one option, but the other option clearly isn't to stay the same otherwise we may still have a competetive Bramley and Hunslet being taken some notice of in Leeds.

We may have lost one and nearly lost another pro-club in Leeds but the game is drawing thousands more fans through the turnstyles, and feeding a lucrative TV contract accordingly.

Same will go for anywhere else. Wigan are now averaging 14000 whilst Leigh had a crowd as low as 1400 last year. Some people with one eye may tell us the game is dying as a result of that Leigh crowd. On the contrary use two eyes and see how the game is watched by more people nowadays - just not in the same places.

Leading onto an ambiguity Mr. P????

If you say one club could "go on to represent the region" in the Calder area, which in turn indicates it will have a wider fan base and all the best juniors, then why make the comment that "mergers aren't the right thing to do"

Mergers were resisted most vehemently in the so called Calder area with protests at matches, and even books being produced to capitalise on the hoo-ha..

It will be interesting to see what the combined home gates are for Cas, Wakey and Fev in 2014 if a ground does not materialise?????

Equally it would be interesting to project what the crowds and the team would be if only one of the three stayed in SL with a new ground.

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I know, it just wouldn't work, they hate each other too much. Likewise when it was floated that Halifax merge with Bradford, the Fax fans just said no way would we go to watch a Bradifax team, we hate 'em, we want to beat 'em not merge with 'em.

I won't pretend to know the answer but I think merging is dead, it was never alive in fact.

Likewise Hunslet and Leeds hated each other, but everyone in Leeds now goes to Headingley - three times SL champions. There was no merger but Leeds got all the fans anyway.

Staying as you are is not always an option unless you like being small, as the Bradford crowds start to plummet and the stadium continues to rot.........

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Computer's just crashed & I've lost the links but you can google them yourself

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

Rushden & Diamonds

Dagenham & Redbridge

Welsh regional rugby union

Leeds Carnegie

London Irish

I think it does happen here

I would argue that for the 3 football teams and Leeds Carnegie, the constituent clubs pre-merger were significantly smaller support/cathcment area-wise and with less successful history, than some of the RL mergers weve seen discussed.

For the Welsh Union clubs I'm not convinced either that they have been fully accepted, or that the single merged club rather than the two previous un-merged clubs gets a bigger cumulative attendance (if you take out the fact that Celtic League attendances are swollen anyway by visits of Munster and Leinster). The other thing you have to bear in mind is that these merged teams were guaranteed a top flight spot and likely Heineken cup games.

Best candidates for an RL merger then are two currently unsuccessful clubs, without much glorious history, with a decent catchment area. To be honest there aren't any clubs which match this. Even the closest contenders (Worky/Haven, and Batley/Dewsbury) have a much richer heritage than the soccer/union mergers. The only way these two could work is if they were given guaranteed SL spots for a long period

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That's the nail on the head Mr. P.

People often say the fans won't watch a merged club, not that there's any evidence of it and not that those who say it will pay any heed to a number of people on here who on a regular basis say "well if it happens I actually WILL watch a merged club". Fans will react various ways and come and go for various reasons.

Take the professional clubs in Leeds. In my first ten years in Leeds watching RL I saw Hunslet at Wembley, Leeds at Wembley and Bramley lift the BBC Floodit trophy.

In that time there were about 1,500 Bramley fans on a good day 2,000 Hunslet fans on a good day and 6,000 Leeds fans on a good day.

Now the only good days are up at Headingley where the Rhinos draw a current average of 15,000 fans.

Nobody has to merge at all, it is merely one option, but the other option clearly isn't to stay the same otherwise we may still have a competetive Bramley and Hunslet being taken some notice of in Leeds.

We may have lost one and nearly lost another pro-club in Leeds but the game is drawing thousands more fans through the turnstyles, and feeding a lucrative TV contract accordingly.

Same will go for anywhere else. Wigan are now averaging 14000 whilst Leigh had a crowd as low as 1400 last year. Some people with one eye may tell us the game is dying as a result of that Leigh crowd. On the contrary use two eyes and see how the game is watched by more people nowadays - just not in the same places.

Leading onto an ambiguity Mr. P????

If you say one club could "go on to represent the region" in the Calder area, which in turn indicates it will have a wider fan base and all the best juniors, then why make the comment that "mergers aren't the right thing to do"

Mergers were resisted most vehemently in the so called Calder area with protests at matches, and even books being produced to capitalise on the hoo-ha..

It will be interesting to see what the combined home gates are for Cas, Wakey and Fev in 2014 if a ground does not materialise?????

Equally it would be interesting to project what the crowds and the team would be if only one of the three stayed in SL with a new ground.

With a decent P&R system and fully pro 2nd tier, both Leigh and Wigan could get better gates than you stated. If we folded tomorrow, extra crowds at Wigan will not come from the Leigh area

Surely its better to have more clubs with good support?

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With a decent P&R system and fully pro 2nd tier, both Leigh and Wigan could get better gates than you stated. If we folded tomorrow, extra crowds at Wigan will not come from the Leigh area

Surely its better to have more clubs with good support?

I am fully with you in the idea that an option could be a fully pro second tier, and a decent P & R system.

12 clubs in two divisions all with

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I think some contributors are living in a world that no longer exists, loyalty to a town or suburb in a society with as much population flux as the UK in 2010 is waning. Where I work, 10 miles outside Carlisle, there are 200-300 staff, less than half of which were born within 50 miles of the workplace. Many of the people who have moved into the area support the local football side and travelled to Wembley with them, they also retain support for their 'home town' club, but consider it impractical and take their kids to watch a reasonably competitive local side instead. These are the people that would be targeted by 'new' clubs.

We can spend the next 10 years worrying about what 'diehard' supporters of Dewsbury & Batley would do if the clubs merged, only to find that the diehards have moved away to improve employment prospects and newcomers have no interest in watching poorly supported clubs at a low level of competition.

The next generation of RL fans in West Cumbria, the ones that would be essential to make any top level club a success, are currently wearing Liverpool, Chelsea & Man U shirts. They may be 10 generations Marra, they may be the sons/daughters of people that moved into the area to work at Sellafield. They are less bothered by a rivalry that means less with every passing year as people move, marry folk from the next door town, go to school there, go shopping there and travel with people from that town to watch other sports.

We have to start planning for 2020 not pretending it is still 1980.

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Point 1. Liverpool's football clubs are both technically insolvent and will not be able to build their own grounds so may need to share facilities to ever compete at the top again. If they were outside the Premiership I'm certain that some officials would be exploring the prospect of a merger as has happened in Sheffield & Bristol

Point 2. Business loyalty, especially within retail and leisure is actually quite a major aspect, it is usually referred to as inertia because in business loyalty to a failing product is thought to be bad. I remained loyal to the Independent through many years, I will not go to other DIY stores other than B&Q and my clothes shopping is done at Austin Reed. Are there other places available that may offer better product at the same or lower prices? Probably, but I'm not going to invest too much time in finding out

How many businesses need their rivals to continue in existence.How many businesses get volunteers in the help run things? None. Pro sport in the uk certainly at SL level and below cannot be described as a business.

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How many businesses need their rivals to continue in existence.How many businesses get volunteers in the help run things? None. Pro sport in the uk certainly at SL level and below cannot be described as a business.

All businesses have rivals, the monopolies and mergers commission sees to that.

NL clubs ask for volunteers because they can't afford to pay people to do the jobs. I know businesses where relatives come in to help the boss for no money - so what?

Of course semi pro clubs are businesses - they have accounts, balance sheets, money in money out, pay wages and are limited liability and registered at company house. You make it all up......

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I think some contributors are living in a world that no longer exists, loyalty to a town or suburb in a society with as much population flux as the UK in 2010 is waning. Where I work, 10 miles outside Carlisle, there are 200-300 staff, less than half of which were born within 50 miles of the workplace. Many of the people who have moved into the area support the local football side and travelled to Wembley with them, they also retain support for their 'home town' club, but consider it impractical and take their kids to watch a reasonably competitive local side instead. These are the people that would be targeted by 'new' clubs.

We can spend the next 10 years worrying about what 'diehard' supporters of Dewsbury & Batley would do if the clubs merged, only to find that the diehards have moved away to improve employment prospects and newcomers have no interest in watching poorly supported clubs at a low level of competition.

The next generation of RL fans in West Cumbria, the ones that would be essential to make any top level club a success, are currently wearing Liverpool, Chelsea & Man U shirts. They may be 10 generations Marra, they may be the sons/daughters of people that moved into the area to work at Sellafield. They are less bothered by a rivalry that means less with every passing year as people move, marry folk from the next door town, go to school there, go shopping there and travel with people from that town to watch other sports.

We have to start planning for 2020 not pretending it is still 1980.

That's a very good post, and reflects the reality of the situation.

Here In Leeds people have stopped watching Hunslet and Bramley, most watch Leeds, many out of town travel a distance to watch Leeds, and some Leeds people choose to go to Cas or Bradford.

People travel, move and make choices because they can.

Years ago travel was slow and expensive...times change.

People are more enlightened - they see pro sport for what it is - as an entertainment not a tribal way of life.

I have always spoken to people about why they support particular clubs, I know a couple of people who supported sheffield Wednesday but now go to United.

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Well perhaps you can explain it to the residents of Workington and Whitehaven and persuade them to pay out their money to watch a merged team.

When you've done that you can have a go at Hull & Hull Kr, and Cas and Fev. If you succeed, I recommend that you offer your services to the Palestians and Israelis.

Trojan, I live here in west Cumbria and have been a Town supporter for 63 years. Believe me I almost know every supporter that still follows Town - all 450 of us, and out of that number I would hazard a guess that only 50 wouldn't even consider following a new club. The others would all discuss it and if it happened they would support the new venture.

Young people up here who live in Workington call people from Whitehaven "jameaters" and vice versa and none of them know why? There are several stories of colliers from each town working with colliers from the other town and what was in the sandwiches, etc, but it changes depending on which town you happen to be in.

It is the people that have walked away from both clubs that would be the biggest supporters of a new venture as the area is crying out for success of some sort. Don't forget our nearest SL club is Wigan a round trip of 250 miles and the nearest Football League club is Carlisle United a round trip of 70 - 80 miles. People are giving their opinions on both clubs with their feet because both clubs sadly still listen to the "jameaters" of both clubs.

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I'm choosing to ignore your patronising negative attitude and address your post without resorting in kind.

The trouble with this argument is, rugby league isn't strictly a business. People who say it is are missing a whole lot about it. If clubs were strictly a business, no one in their right mind would watch a losing team. If Coca Cola starts to taste awful and gives people illness the customers wont still buy it out of loyalty, they will switch to pepsi. Yet I've seen fans go to watch a Halifax team in super league that didn't have a hope of winning a game all season. You can't treat the fans as customers, they are different. There is an emotional attachment and a sense of community spirit you don't get from true businesses. Sure, they run accounts, and have overheads, but the customers in this case are not the type who will simply wander from product to product when it suits them. Their loyalty is a strength and a weakness. It means you can't simply bank on them going elsewhere if you mess them around and merge and subdue their club. It's more than just a brand to them. But it also means some of them will carry on supporting through thick and thin no matter what is going on with the business side.

Merge Wakey and Cas and a number will refuse to go because it wont be the same and the new entity will represent something else they are not accustomed to or emotionally attached to. You have to accept that no matter what you think of these people. You have to hope that in the long term, you can gain lost ground and overtake that considerably otherwise you are sacrificing two working clubs just to risk one which may work slightly better.

Your last paragraph is of supreme irrelevance to this argument so I wont bother replying to it because you shouldn't have bothered posting it.

Hang on, I'm pro merger, willing to embrace another route and I recognise pro RL is a business but you think I'm negative .................... the mind boggles!

And, if my last paragraph is of supreme irrelevance why make mention of it. Look feller, I'll nick a quote off JFK; "change is the law of life, those who fail to change will miss the future" .................. I guess you are stuck where you are, oh BTW, love your "it wont be the same", it says a lot!

Edited by Sleeper

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That's a very good post, and reflects the reality of the situation.

Here In Leeds people have stopped watching Hunslet and Bramley, most watch Leeds, many out of town travel a distance to watch Leeds, and some Leeds people choose to go to Cas or Bradford.

No it's not Parky it's wrong. As for Leeds, Bramley and Hunslet. For the most part it's not the same people who've stopped watching Hunslet/Bramley and started watching Leeds. It's a different generation. Bramley have never been particularly well supported, but Hunslet's diseappearance in the early seventies, plus the fact that Hunslet as a place where people live has effectively disappeared has contributed to their decline. The new young potential supporters of RL look around for team to support and what do they see. Bright shiney SL Leeds, playing at Headingley, on TV every week seemingly, and struggling Hunslet. It's not really surprising if they choose Leeds is it? What clubs like Hunslet need is a bit of help to raise their profile. But what do they get instead - franchising - calculated to keep them out of the limelight and perpetuate the vicious circle of decline.

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No it's not Parky it's wrong. As for Leeds, Bramley and Hunslet. For the most part it's not the same people who've stopped watching Hunslet/Bramley and started watching Leeds. It's a different generation. Bramley have never been particularly well supported, but Hunslet's diseappearance in the early seventies, plus the fact that Hunslet as a place where people live has effectively disappeared has contributed to their decline. The new young potential supporters of RL look around for team to support and what do they see. Bright shiney SL Leeds, playing at Headingley, on TV every week seemingly, and struggling Hunslet. It's not really surprising if they choose Leeds is it? What clubs like Hunslet need is a bit of help to raise their profile. But what do they get instead - franchising - calculated to keep them out of the limelight and perpetuate the vicious circle of decline.

Several things; which bit of what I wrote about changing communities was in your opinion incorrect?

What could the rfl have done, before licensing, to help hunslet? Given they had already been to the brink of promotion before realising that Leeds council would not build them a White elephant.

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Several things; which bit of what I wrote about changing communities was in your opinion incorrect?

It's not my experience of the way things are in West Yorkshire. Rivalry here, and in Hull and Wigan and St Helens (not large towns) is very real.

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No it's not Parky it's wrong. As for Leeds, Bramley and Hunslet. For the most part it's not the same people who've stopped watching Hunslet/Bramley and started watching Leeds. It's a different generation.

You are a daft devil, trying to tell me about the people who watch Bramley and Hunslet and Leeds.

The fact is I have been one of them, have been amongst them for 40 years, and have known so many of them over the years.

Stop making it up.

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It's not my experience of the way things are in West Yorkshire. Rivalry here, and in Hull and Wigan and St Helens (not large towns) is very real.

Don't disagree for the small number of clubs that have built brands and rivalries like saints Wigan fc kr wire, but there are a fair number of fc fans in east hull & vice versa. There are saints fans in Wigan and Warrington. There are also a number of fans at these clubs that are first generation supporters. These are the people I mean, they ( like my mate euan who I took to a few saints games and became more passionate than

most sintelliner residents despite no link to the town).

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Don't disagree for the small number of clubs that have built brands and rivalries........ These are the people I mean......my mate euan who I took to a few saints games and became more passionate than most sintelliner residents despite no link to the town.......

People are simply seeking entertainment in sport and there is little loyalty unless it suits people to pretend there is.

Like your Mate who went to Saints and fancied being an avid Saints fan despite never having been near the town, and like Trojan who fell out with Wakey and now is an avid Fev fan because he felt like it.............

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