Blackbrook doing the extra yards

St Helens amateur club Blackbrook found themselves at the centre of national media attention last week as part of a scheme that they initiated which ended up involving the actor Russell Crowe and the comedian Johnny Vegas.
ITV News, Sky Sports and the Mirror newspaper all carried the story of Blackbrook players voluntarily delivering food to NHS, key workers and the vulnerable around St Helens.
The club teamed up with the Steve Prescott Foundation and local businessman Andrew Mikhail to deliver food from local restaurant the Eccleston Arms to the homes of people who need it most.
The initiative has seen Vegas and former Rugby League duo Lee Briers and Tommy Martyn arriving at grateful doorsteps around St Helens, while Hollywood superstar Crowe tweeted about it in a video that had over 1.5 million views.
But while they gained a lot of the media attention, the initial idea was from Blackbrook captain Craig Lyon, who has been playing for the club for 20 years.
He explained: “When Covid-19 hit we wanted to see how we could help the community as a club.
“There’s a lot of vulnerable and older people in the town who wouldn’t have anybody else to help them.
“I put a message out on the lads’ WhatsApp group and something on social media with a number to call if they needed any help.”
That then developed when Steve Prescott Foundation secretary Martin Blondel and Mikhail got together to launch a shop from the Eccleston Arms that needed a delivery team.
Lyon’s WhatsApp group has now expanded to almost 50 people, including the likes of Vegas, Briers and Martyn, who he insists are doing it for the right reasons.
Lyon added: “The honest truth is that none of them have done it for any publicity; they’re just down to help and that’s it.
“We’ve seen lads from rival clubs and football clubs get in touch to join forces, and there are now 45 people in the group dotted all over the town with a rota in place.
“Nobody has been waiting longer than an hour for a delivery.
“Personally I’ve found it so rewarding. A lot of people we’re delivering to are in 12-week isolation, so we might be the first people they’ve seen for a couple of weeks.
“We’ve had family members from places like Southampton and Portsmouth get in touch and ask if we can check in on elderly relatives round here that they can’t visit.
“For me Rugby League is a proper community sport and this has shown how it can bring people together for a good cause.”