Swinton Lions coach Stuart Littler has paid tribute to the club’s new board of directors for their input since taking charge of the club.
Littler is close to previous owner Andy Mazey and was disappointed when his involvement ended over the Manchester Lions naming saga last season.
But the coach says the new directors have more than steadied the ship at the club, including Steve Wild, the one remaining member of the last board.
Littler told League Express: “What happened was sad but the club had to find a way to move forward again.
“When the previous board left I sat down with Steve and there were some dark times at first.
“But we started to put a plan together of how we could come through it and go again, and fair play to the guys behind the scenes, they’ve worked very hard to engage new people and get them on board.
“The latest of those, Damian Ridpath, has come in with an extensive background within sport development, something which I’m familiar with as I used to run a foundation before getting into teaching.
“He knows all about the access and funding streams we need to use, and has a good knowledge and understanding of how we can grow our brand locally while also doing some work with key development partners.
“We want to improve and develop not just ourselves as a club but Rugby League as a whole.”
Littler has also been impressed with the way the directors have dealt with the current coronavirus pandemic.
He added: “These are unprecedented times, but big respect to these guys, they’ve dealt with the situation really well.
“They’ve been transparent from the start and fed all the information down to the players as soon as they’ve had access to it.
“I’d also echo what most people have been saying in that the RFL has been very proactive in their discussions with clubs in recent weeks.
“Now we have to wait for the government guidelines, although I’m still hopeful the season can go ahead.
“In what format that will be we’ll have to wait and see, and we’ll assess it after the government decides what can happen.
“There are bigger things than Rugby League, but once we are able to come back then I hope that all the directors, coaches and players will be pulling in the same direction together.”
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS coach James Webster says a Good Friday trip down memory lane has heightened his anticipation at working with Thomas Minns again.
The talented threequarter, who has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons, scored a hat-trick in a Hull derby re-run that Webster watched over the Easter weekend.
He joined Rovers on a permanent basis last September but had been unable to start the season due to a recurrence of an old foot injury.
Webster, who coached Minns at the Robins, said: “It was only on Good Friday when I was watching a couple of old games, and he scored a hat-trick in one of them.
“Just sat at home it made me remember how much strike he’s got and what he’ll bring to us.
“It’ll have been around two and a half years since he’s played, so he’ll be a bit rusty when we come back, but he’s in full training now and able to run.
“He’s missed out on some of that extra specialist physio he would have had while we’ve been on lockdown, but he should be ready when we come back.”
Brad Day will be closer to August when he’s ready to return from a damaged anterior cruciate ligament, but Webster hopes he will be the only absentee when action does return.
“If we rolled up straight away now we’d have a pretty strong team,” Webster added.
“Dale Ferguson is good as well now. His scan came back on his knee and there’s nothing there that needs repairing.
“The one thing that might hurt us if it’s a compact season is how many players Leeds can offer us.”
LONDON BRONCOS coach Danny Ward says the club’s close-season captures have all settled into life in the capital.
Ward had to undertake a mini-overhaul of his squad following relegation from Super League and the departure of a host of key figures.
But he says his new recruits had bought into the ethos at the Broncos before the lockdown started.
Ward explained: “We talk a lot about the character of people and how that fits into our environment, especially being in London, where you’re isolated from the rest of the game and often family and friends.
“It needs to be the right person to fit into the group here and they’ve all bought into what we’re doing both with their team-mates and their attitude to rugby.
“Josh Walters and Rhys Curran have been great additions in the back row and I couldn’t speak highly enough of them.
“I’m excited to see how Olly Ashall-Bott goes when he gets back to full fitness and in that sense the break will have done him good.
“Cory Aston is a tough little bloke who has ripped in and talks well, and it helped that he was already good mates with Matty Fozard before coming down.
“It’s been good to get Tuoyo Egodo back at the club after a couple of years at Castleford, where it really took him out of his comfort zone. It’s always good to bring London lads back to the club.
“Mitch Allgood hasn’t been with us as long and we didn’t rush him into playing when he got here, but he showed what he’s about in the game against York with some impressive defence.
“Dan Norman is a really good, young, hungry kid who has been in a couple of Super League environments and we’re now helping him continue to reach his goals.
“The lads have all been really professional, and we’re just looking forward to seeing what they can do on the pitch again at some point.”
OLDHAM have reported that their assistant coach Brendan Sheridan is now out of intensive care and breathing on his own after a battle with Covid-19.
Sheridan’s brother Ryan, the assistant coach of Castleford Tigers, had earlier in the week posted an update on social media stating that Brendan’s condition had improved.
That was followed by a statement from Roughyeds’ Chairman Chris Hamilton on Thursday, with Sheridan’s condition continuing to improve since then.
Hamilton said: “I am delighted to report that Brendan is now out of intensive care and is breathing on his own.
“The last couple of weeks have been very worrying, not least for his family, but in true “Shez” spirit he has continued to fight this awful virus and hopefully he is now over the worst.
“He is still in hospital and is on a long road to recovery, but we are delighted to know he is getting better and the support he has had from everybody at the Roughyeds and from the wider Rugby League family has genuinely touched him and his family.”
Members of the Oldham squad and a host of other players and coaches had been running a mile for Sheridan and posting videos as a message of support to the former Dewsbury Celtic coach.
BATLEY BULLDOGS have launched a Roll of Honour on their official website to acknowledge those linked to the club that are working as carers or in the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initial list includes the mothers of players Tyler Dickinson and Wayne Reittie (Vanessa Dickinson and Christine Allen respectively) as well as assistant coach Mark Moxon’s wife Kelly.
Former Batley player Liam Walmsley, who featured in the club’s successful 2013 campaign, is also on the list alongside supporters Danielle Brown, Richard Wells, Julie Bownass, Michael Gothard, Nathan Walker and Sarah Tranter, with the club appealing for others to come forward.
A Bulldogs’ statement read: “We are sure that there are members of our Bulldogs family working in the NHS and as carers at this very difficult time.
“We know that people in the UK have always been grateful for the care provided by such people, but perhaps we have never before shown it.
“However, times are changing and these heroes are now continuing their hard work, which they have done for years and now at even greater risk to their own health. But now we have all truly woken up and at last wish to give them full credit for their dedication to helping us all in our hour of need.
“This now gives us an idea at Batley Bulldogs to create our own Roll of Honour for NHS workers and carers to truly show our appreciation, as a club, for those members of our family who are there for us all the time and now more so are helping us get through this.
“We believe that rather than simply refer to them as ‘NHS workers and Carers’ we need to put names to these heroes to show our full appreciation.”
WIDNES VIKINGS have published a record of every home programme of theirs between 1945 and 1993 online.
The resource, which was compiled by former League Express writer Steve Fox in 2015, is in a PDF format that can be downloaded from the club’s official website.
There are over 8,000 images covering every page of every home programme from that period, along with and almost every Annual Report from those years too.
There’s also a selection of pre-war programmes and reports, though the club is asking for fans that can help with supplying images of older items which aren’t in this archive but could be included in future versions.
They are asked to contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHEFFIELD EAGLES assistant coach Keith Senior says being targeted by opposition fans for regularly entering the pitch continues to amuse him.
In an interview with the club website the former Leeds and Great Britain centre was asked about his favourite memory from his six years as Mark Aston’s number two.
Senior said: “When I run the messages and dealing with all the abuse for doing what I’m allowed to do.
“It still makes me laugh at how much knowledge is actually understood, but I do have a lot of banter with most of the opposition’s crowd.”
HALIFAX have been mourning the death of their former winger Dennis Jackson, who passed away following a long battle with illness aged 78.
Jackson was signed from Headingley Rugby Union club in his native Leeds, and went on to play 122 matches for Halifax between 1959 and 1966, scoring 76 tries.
Highlights of his career included winning the Yorkshire Cup in 1963, the Eastern Division Championship in 1964 and the Rugby League Championship in 1965.
He scored tries in all three finals and made three appearances for the Yorkshire county team.
A club statement read: “Our sincere condolences are extended to his wife Margaret, son Mark and daughter Debbie as well as his extended family and friends and to any of his former playing colleagues.”
YORK CITY KNIGHTS backrower Danny Washbrook has pledged to cycle the distance of the Tour de Yorkshire in his back garden in order to raise funds for two charities.
The former Hull FC favourite is planning to cycle ten miles every day for 38 consecutive days from today (Monday).
In a statement on Twitter, Washbrook said: “It just so happens that 380 miles is the same distance as a round trip from my house to the Budweiser UK headquarters in London and back.
“Budweiser has been my beer of choice during the lockdown! So I’d like as many people as possible to donate the cost of a pint of Budweiser (or as many pints as you’d like) so that I can raise as much (money) as possible for NHS Charities Together and Dove House Hospice, two amazing places that need as much extra funding as possible during this time.
To support Washbrook’s cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/team/dwashfundraising.
WHITEHAVEN Chairman Tommy Todd has paid tribute to former player John (Jonty) Douglas following his recent passing.
Todd said: “John was a lovely man with a big smile and a man who was never very far from laughing.
“Can we extend our condolences to his nearest and dearest at this sad time.
“When this current crisis is over we will have a fitting tribute to him.
“He was the last of the Douglas brothers and I have known him all my life.
“My cousin Joe said he used to joke that he was the last man standing, but sadly no more. John, rest in peace with your brothers.”
LEIGH CENTURIONS have uploaded a host of nostalgic footage to their online TV channel.
Included among them are a BBC North West report on the club’s 1981/82 Championship winning team that clinched the title at Whitehaven.
There is also the edition of popular show Superstars that included Leigh and Great Britain winger Des Drummond.
Joining Leigh Centurions TV is free for fans at all clubs during the lockdown, with full details available on their website.