As I don’t have to compose any sermons for a while I thought I’d share some musings on a topic that has always vexed me - is your team truly representative of the moniker it sports? If I switch to the round ball code for a bit and look at Arsenal - who on average have 0 or 1 English players in their side - do they really represent a suburb of N London? Or are they just a bunch of mercenaries seeking the best £ and have no real affinity for the club? Taking my own club and the others nearby, are they just a bunch of the same blokes plying their trade to the highest bidder, according to their ability, and does it really matter if the blokes wearing your team’s shirt turn out the following season in another (usually Featherstone for us Rams players)? I did a bit of research t’other day looking at season 1973-4 and the % birthplace of squad members for some teams:
Dewsbury 26% Dewsbury born
Hull KR 65%
St Helens 52%
Whitehaven 32% (though 90% Cumbrian)
It would be very interesting to compare with today’s squads though I suspect the lower down the divisions you go the more locals appear. In season 73-74 Wire were the dominant team and yet had one of the fewer home town players - buying success perhaps is not a modern thing. I just think that playing for your home town team is an honour and with the emphasis on RL being a community sport (as recognised by HM Government to the tune of £16 million) and if a team is meant to represent a town or district then it should really have at least one player from that place in the team at all times. I remember Halifax winning a title with almost 100% Antipodeans (apologies to Fax fans if the memory is playing up) but to me it is a bit hollow- at least a quarter of Dewsbury’s championship side were local. I am realistic enough to know that a return to truly representative sides won’t happen but I would not be averse to a “home town” rule whereby one of the starting 13 must be a local - thereby guaranteeing a place for one local lad. Then at least we would not fall foul of the trades descriptions act! Anyway something else for you all to chew over perhaps to while away a bit more before we reach the promised land of watching TGG live again (and my sermons are not as long, believe me!). Stay safe!