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Bolton Leyther

Posters not from the heartlands: how did you first become interested in rugby league?

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And what was it about the sport that piqued and then maintained your interest?

My guess would be that for most it was just happening upon it on when watching TV or perhaps through conversations with a colleague or friend from the north of England, but either way, I'm curious to know what people's stories are (particularly if you're not from England).

Nb. Obviously, I understand that many people might have northern relatives who moved elsewhere and passed their love of rugby league onto you. It's more the stories of the people who had no prior connections with the sport at all that that I'm keen to read about.

Edited by Bolton Leyther

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Sky TV got me first, which led me going to Challenge Cup finals and England Tests, then Grand Finals. Now have a Broncos ST.

But it all started with TV. I just found it a very exciting game to watch and still do. The skill, smash-ups and speed of the game are kind of mesmerising. 

It’s also a very satisfying game to watch. 

The rules compel the side in possession to attack and there’s a clear purpose and outcome to every set of six.

Whereas in football there seems to be an awful lot of wasted energy, in rugby league hard effort has an obvious reward in yardage gained. 

Unlike in yawnion, there’s none of the sort of lengthy stoppages for restarts, you can see the ball more as 20 blokes or so don’t pile on and the tackle count prevents long passages of tedious possession.

And while wholehearted and committed teamwork is essential, rugby league also allows individuals to shine. 

It’s a great game.

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Switched the TV in in 1984, just before J Lydon scored for Widnes in the CC Final, as a former short halfback, felt i could relate to RL more than to RU, seeing ppl like D Fox, G Toovey, A Gregory & B Kimmorley play at the highest level.

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I was transferred from Canada to Sydney, Aus for a couple years back in 1990.

I'd never seen Rugby League before that. I played a bit of RU in high school. Just a bit.

In Aus, they has a game of the week on TV that I became hooked on, and then started attended some North Sydney Bears matches in person. They were the closest team to where we lived.

I generally found RL more entertaining than RU, but back then Australia had massively strong RU national team. I saw them play a couple times live.

After I came back, I lost track of RL again until I started getting Sportsnet World / Sentanta about 5 years ago.

And then a few years ago, the moment I heard about the Toronto Wolfpack, I picked season tickets.

Edited by PatrickB
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27 minutes ago, r1ch1e said:

Saw a game on sky in my teens, simple as that.

Same here, but on the BBC, not Sky. So it'd be either the Challenge Cup or the Regal Trophy.

I alternated between comprehensive and public schools and when I first saw RL, I was at Oakham, which had (and probably still has) a pretty obnoxious and over-entitled RU culture. So, as well as the more positive style of play, the superior skills/fitness/impact, there was probably something about the general no-nonsense, un-hyped feel of the sport that hooked me.

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Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (Susan Ertz)

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Grew up in Ireland playing RU. First got into RL at the time alot of Union players switched codes. The likes of Jonathan Davies as well as other Welsh players plus Alan Tait peaked my interest. I was in awe of players like Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah and instantly loved the speed and athleticism of the game. 

When I went to University I had my first opportunity to play the game and as a winger/full back loved that I was getting so much more of the ball! I got to carry on playing in the Coventry Bears early days and have followed the sport ever since. 

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A combination of three things growing up somewhere where neither code of rugby was played:

1.  1980’s Challenge Cup finals on TV

2.  A Des Drummond primary school visit when he was at Leigh

3.  A Dewsbury mad Gran from Yorkshire!

The first matches I got taken to were Saints-Wigan games in the late 80’s/early 90’s mainly at Central Park, but also some games at Swinton and Leigh.  Then as I got older we started following the Ashes’ series in the U.K.

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I don't know if I qualify as non-heartland for this thread as I was born and raised in Carlisle which is on the periphery of the RL world. In the 70s, my teens, the city was League-free so I grew up being a Carlisle United tragic. However, RL, the Marras from the west, was a big part of the local media coverage, like the Evening News & Star, Saturday's 'Sports Special' paper and Border TV (but not the north east dominated local BBC channel), so the game was always in my orbit. I guess that Grandstand cemented my interest and as I got a bit older occasionally I would go to watch Haven or Town. Then boom... the birth of Carlisle RL in 1981, and was hooked.

 

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Born in Newbury, Berkshire in 1963 so miles away from heartland. Rugby union town and race horses but I was one of about 1500 local people in the1970s who watched Reading FC (they get a few more now). Came across RL on BBC Grandstand as a kid on a Saturday afternoon. Loved it. Happened to go to uni in the early 1980s in Bradford and watched Northern. Then heading back south, Fulham were up and running so that was that. My love of the sport has grown ever since to the point, where it’s the only sport I watch now. I’m lucky that Skolars are down the road from where I now live. Bradford are my second team. 

Edited by EssexRL
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Just now, EssexRL said:

Born in Newbury, Berkshire in 1963 so miles away from heartland. Rugby union town and race horses but I was one of about 1500 people who watched Reading FC (they get a few more now). Came across RL on BBC Grandstand as a kid on a Saturday afternoon. Loved it. Happened to go to uni in the early 1980s in Bradford and watched Northern. Then heading back south, Fulham were up and running so that was that. My love of the sport has grown ever since to the point, where it’s the only sport I watch now. I’m lucky that Skolars are down the road from where I now live. Bradford are my second team. 

Should have added - took my son (born in Kent) to his first RL game (London v Bradford) when he was about 6 and regularly ever since. He’s a Skolars season ticket holder too. 

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I love everything about rugby in the Pacific islands so when I saw the Pacific series in RL I fell in love. Watching Tonga and Fiji in the last world cup was unreal but I do get frustrated by the lack of internationals as I've no interest in watching club games outside my own team in union. 

Edited by Keith989
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My dad grew up in Liverpool, and as I understand it from hm, always a RL fan. When he moved out of 'Pool and over this way, he brought his love of the game with him. I remember growing up with RL on the telly at every opportunity. When he went to Salford as a mature student when I was 18 months old, he used to go to watch when he could. Fast forward into the '80s and I used to go to Widnes with him on occasion, and so saw the best of the Widnes players of that era.

That's where I got it from, my dad 🙂

 

....and as he always said, when he was growing up, Liverpool was still in Lancashire 😉 

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cru....Cru.....CRUSADERS!!!!!!

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Born in south Cheshire, but my parents quickly moved to Kent, where I have resided ever since. I would watch Challenge Cup Finals on TV as a teenager and be impressed by the occasion rather than the actual sport. The defining moment came when I saw an email offer for cheap Challenge Cup Final tickets. I wanted to experience a major occasion at the new Wembley Stadium and this seemed as good a way as any of doing that. Fortunately for me the tickets were in the Warrington end of the ground, so that settled who I should support. I was blown away by the speed and intensity and dramatic nature of the sport, everything compared favourably to football, which till then had been my usual spectator sport. The fans provided a better atmosphere too, singing right throughout rather than just at key moments in a football game.

A few months later, I visited Australia for the first time and was fortunate to see two tense NRL playoff games in front of packed stadiums. It was only by attending live games that I was able to appreciate what a great sport it is. I have seen games at every Super League ground bar Castleford, many of which have not even featured Warrington.   London Skolars is my closest team but due to shift work and frequent travel I can only see them once or twice a season. I have seen Broncos games at several of their home venues, but it is not easy to get to with a two hour plus journey that involves four different means of transport.

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www.twitter.com/flyingking2

 

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45 minutes ago, flyingking said:

Born in south Cheshire

 

46 minutes ago, flyingking said:

tickets were in the Warrington end of the ground, so that settled who I should support.

The fact that you were born in South Cheshire means Warrington are your local team, that should have settled it already 😁

Out of interest, which part of South Cheshire?   I’ve seen a few people in Warrington gear on the Shropshire borders.

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My story is at secondary school my best mate in year 7 was a big Rugby Fan and watched both codes. Used to talk alot about Rugby so I started to pay more attention.

I got into watching all the rugby of both codes that I could and found the free flowing style of Wigan and Saints to be compelling on the rare occasions it came on BBC. I loved watching Offiah in particular and of course the big hits that are standard in RL. I much preferred it to the slow 1990s RU. 

I played Union as a kid, wasn't that good a player however enjoyed it, but would get bored on the wing in those days as saw little ball back in the 90s did a winger in Union! 

Going forward, I was always a fan of RL and would catch it when it was on free TV however only got into it in a big way in 2015 when I got finally got Sky and saw the Dragons spank Wigan 58-16 and thought wow, this is more watchable than the union I was watching a fair bit of at the time. 

These days I have a Broncos ST, watch the NRL and SL 2-3 games a week and read alot about RL. I still watch Super Rugby and like the All Black's in the other code, however RL is much preferred particularly once you take into account the atmosphere at a game. RL is a great game bevause of the people off the pitch as well as on it!

I feel the NRL isn't matched by any other league in either code of Rugby and SL is often thrilling in its drama. 

 

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11 hours ago, OriginalMrC said:

Grew up in Ireland playing RU. First got into RL at the time alot of Union players switched codes. The likes of Jonathan Davies as well as other Welsh players plus Alan Tait peaked my interest. I was in awe of players like Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah and instantly loved the speed and athleticism of the game. 

When I went to University I had my first opportunity to play the game and as a winger/full back loved that I was getting so much more of the ball! I got to carry on playing in the Coventry Bears early days and have followed the sport ever since. 

Not too shabby a player either mate 😉

 

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Now then, it's a race between Sandie....and Fairburn....and the little man is in........yeees he's in.

I, just like those Castleford supporters felt that the ball should have gone to David Plange but he put the bit betwen his teeth...and it was a try

Kevin Ward - best player I have ever seen

DSC04156_edited-1_thumb.jpg

The real Mick Gledhill is what you see on here, a Bradford fan ........, but deep down knows that Bradford are just not good enough to challenge the likes of Leeds & St Helens.

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In 1994 I happened to see a copy of Open Rugby in a local store in Nepean, Ontario (now part of Ottawa) with a mention of Canadian RL on the front and inside a picture of Wayne Gretzky was with the report.  Dave Silcock's contact information was included, so I made contact and he loaned me a video of a State of Origin match.  I was so impressed by the skill and flow of the game, and the parallels to so-called "Canadian football" were apparent to me right away.  I've been a fan ever since.

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I'm from a part of Ireland where Rugby of any code was pretty much non-existent, at least when I was growing up. I got into Rugby Union in University mainly to fit in but I was always a bit frustrated by the archaic rules, private school/old boy's network and the fact that it was the sport of choice of the absolute worst people in the country who pushed it to a position of undeserved prominence in the media.

Then one day a few years ago I happened to stumble upon a Challenge Cup game on BBC NI between Bradford and Warrington being played on a weird pitch that sloped up at the corners. Once I read about the history of the game as a working class rebellion I was hooked.

 

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Grew up in Ealing (who knew one day we would have a Super League team) & used to catch games on grandstand and started taking more than a passing interest - then super league happened and suddenly there was a top level team playing just down the road and i was hooked

 

Think lot of posts on this thread show the power of free to view games to snare the casual sports fan

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Grew up in Liverpool but like a lot of people in that era I had a vague interest in RL as it was on BBC; as the local club Saints were my team but football was very much my #1 interest. Moved to East Anglia 20 years ago and have kept a vague interest going but not much until about 3 years ago when I saw a game on tv and remembered how great RL is; that coupled with a disillusionment with the amount of money in football has made me a keen fan of all RL, not just Saints. In short I love it and have missed out on nearly 20 years!

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I was born and brought up near Motherwell, Scotland.  I started watching Rugby League on BBC Grandstand, where they used to show the second half of matches on Saturday afternoons and on Tuesday nights in the BBC Floodlit Trophy.

It wasn't love at first sight but over a period I came to understand the laws of the game and could name players and teams.  When I left school, I went down to a seasonal job in a hotel in Blackpool.  I was only supposed to be in Lancashire for 5 months but stayed there for 21 years!

I started watching Blackpool Borough, hence my user name, but also went to matches at Wigan, Chorley Borough, Salford, St. Helens, Leigh, Warrington, Swinton and Keighley as well as Premiership Finals at Old Trafford and Great Britain internationals.

I've been back in Scotland for 20 years now but never lost my love of the game.  In recent years I've been to two Magic Weekends, the Australia v New Zealand final at Anfield and matches at Workington, Whitehaven and Newcastle Thunder.

I still prefer the game as it was in the 1980's and 1990's but that's probably because I'm a grumpy old man rather than faults in the product currently on offer!!

 

 

 

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