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

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I was first introduced to the game via a game i caught on a BBC Grandstand. I recall it was a game between Castleford (definitely) and St.Helens (possibly. The names of the teams initially piqued my interest as they were so different from what i was used to with Football. Must have been a Regal trophy or early round of the Challenge cup. 

Up until this point i'd considered 'Rugby' pretty dull and uninteresting, unaware that all other 'Rugby' games i'd seen on TV were Union and not League.

My interest in the sport was further enhanced when my older brother was given a Wigan '88 seasons highlights video  as a birthday present, and again one day, when at home on a Saturday and unable to play outside, i decided to give the Wigan video a watch. I think i actually watched the video so many times after that initial watch it did infact start to deteriorate.

My love for the sport was cemented on watching the '92 Lions tour. getting up in the early hours with my older brother to watch the tests and the midweek club games, which opened up an entirely new world to me. Watching teams with names such as Parramatta, Illawarra, Eastern Suburbs etc..

The following year my parents finally relented and got a SKY dish. I started playing the game the same year.

With no links at all to the sport, or to the north of England, it was purely down to the spectacle of the sport that got me hooked. Have to admit to really liking the fact you'd usually see a bit of the tough stuff, which never ever happened in Football.

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My mum is from St Helens, and I had a brief spell of watching Saints with my grandad in the late 60's and early 70's, including my only challenge cup final in 1972. I used to watch Wrexham FC as well at this time, my dad was football mad., and with Wrexham enjoying their golden age in the 70's, it was football only for me until Crusaders moved to Wrexham in 2010.

When Crusaders arrived, I was so impressed by the commitment of the players, who had only been together for about six weeks that I was instantly hooked. I know several ex-Wrexham fans who switched to rugby league on that cold night in January 2010, and we'll be celebrating 10 years of supporting RL next year.

I have to mention as well our second home game against Hull FC. The pitch was covered in snow and we had struggled to get more than a dozen or so people to clear the pitch for the football, so what chance did we have of clearing it for rugby? Well, within two hours there were 200 people there, including both teams and quite a few Hull FC fans and the game went ahead on time. That was it, no more football for me, I realised what I had been missing and walked away from the money obsessed sport I had followed for 40 odd years. My nephew summed it up quite nicely at the time, he said that football is all about the team, but rugby is all about the game.

Edited by fearnowt
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Great stories.

I was attracted to the game because of boredom and a sense of the absurdity, I witnessed on the rugby union field. I had played ten years of rugby union and during my first year of rugby league, I scored more points, kicked more goals, made more tackles and carried the ball more yards than in the previous ten years of Ra ra.

In order to carry on playing after university, I had to start a team in my home town. With our nearest opposition, two hundred miles away, we created a fixture list of ''friendlies'' with visiting clubs from ''up north''.

I remember, I'd booked a permit to play on the local authority park field and they telephoned me to say I couldn't have the field because a local RU club took priority! I asked ''on what basis''. The head of department was involved with the local first class union club. He told me that I shouldn't be doing it. I asked why and he said, ''its against the rules''. ''Whose rules?'' ''The WRU'' says he. I said, ''I know its against the rules, but why is it against the rules?'''. He didn't have an answer. I told him, I had the permit, it was a legal contract and that as a local authority employee, he worked for me and didn't ''own'' the field. We played on.

They decried our ''professional'' players for being paid, but my father, had played for Aberavon RU club before the war and told me of a large crowd at one game, which prompted the ''amateur'' players to refuse to come out of the changing rooms until they were promised a bigger share of the gate-take, than normal! 

I organised a seven a side tournament (which was well attended) and we received a letter from the then secretary of the WRU, Denis Evans saying that if we went ahead, every player in the tournament would be ''professionalised'' and banned from Rugby Union! ''Why?'' Because we called the trophy the Jonathan Davies Cup. Ha ha ha. We created as much publicity as we could from that arrogant schoolboy error.

BARLA advised us not to upset them. I said ''listen Maurice, (Oldroyd) their against us, no matter what they say to our faces, stop wasting time currying favour with them.''

They had succeeded in creating such a cultural bias, such an underlying fear of fraternising with us that I was once asked by a parent of a 10 year old boy if he would be banned by the RU if he played ''Little league'' with our school team. I replied, ''you'd have to take it up with them, but tell me, would you want to support an organisation that would do that to your child?'' His little lad played on.

I loved playing rugby league, more than anything I've ever done, but I was also drawn into the moral and ethical fight against these sickening hypocritical tyrants, spreading their poison about our honest professional sportsmen and our great game.

When I was a child, my father said ''Son, if you see a GOOD fight, be sure and get in it''. I'm still in it.

 

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Always caught some challenge cup games on the beeb but it was Celtic Crusaders that made me think of myself as a real fan of the sport. Only live games give you a real sense of the speed, skill and toughness of the sport and for a while Bridgend felt like something special...

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Brilliant thread, awesome stuff!

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Sheffield Eagles, in the guise of none other than Ralph Rimmer, did some coaching at my son's school. I got some free tickets and was hooked after one game.

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I was born in London and spent my childhood there and on the Surrey/Hampshire border. Used to watch the Challenge Cup final on television. The sports I played were cricket, soccer and hockey. I came north to college at Bretton Hall and started teaching in Normanton. I played the occasional game of RU at Pontefract alongside a brilliant young lad. He got signed up by Featherstone and I went to watch him play at Post Office Road and realised that RL was a much greater sport to watch than any other and became completely hooked. It became a major part of my life and I edited the Fev programme for a number of years, became a trustee of the foundation and spend a large part of my time producing fevnut's blog!

And the young lad was who caused me to start watching was ... Charlie Stone!

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I went to watch Sheffield Eagles v Leeds and Bradford at the old Chesterfield FC  football ground Saltergate,

I saw a good mix of Eagles and away fans walking side by side with no abuse or hostility around, inside the ground there was a good atmosphere and on the pitch plenty of action, after that I was sort of hooked,

League is not my favourite sport, but one I have grown to like and without  Sheffield playing in Derbyshire I would not have known about the game,

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Never seen the game, despite it being 30 miles down the road,  nor on the telly as other sporting commitments kept me away from the box. And certainly wasn’t interested in rugby union. Growing up in Carlisle a new club being started in 1981 and being dragged along by school friends, I got hooked as a regular. Selected a Uni to ensure could continue to see and play the game. Once in London as an amateur and the occasional Fulham/London Crusaders game until the Broncos took over and been a season ticket holder ever since.

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BBC 2 Floodlight trophy. As a kid the players just seemed like warriors.....watching in Wales, was always impressed that Welsh players would go these far flung places like Bradford and Featherstone to match their skills against these hard men from the north. Moved to London when I was 17. Played Union at the top club level at that time. Fella I worked with who was from Leigh kept saying that I would be more suited to League in the way that I played. Always wanted to give it a go. Never had the chance for years and then started playing in the London Amateur League which was thriving at the time. Wish I had ‘switched’ years before.  As for watching, always followed the game on TV as much as I could and started watching Fulham at Chiswick Poly ground and followed them through their various guises from Crystal Palace to Barnet et al until I moved north in the nineties. Got loads of clubs within easy reach now, don’t particularly follow any one side. Got a soft spot for a few, so i’m In RL heaven 🙂

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There are some excellent reads here.

As a heartlander, I actually feel a bit left out from these type of experiences. Perhaps there should be a corresponding heartlander thread along the same lines, albeit it might not be as exciting.

 

 

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1 hour ago, fevnut said:

I was born in London and spent my childhood there and on the Surrey/Hampshire border. Used to watch the Challenge Cup final on television. The sports I played were cricket, soccer and hockey. I came north to college at Bretton Hall and started teaching in Normanton. I played the occasional game of RU at Pontefract alongside a brilliant young lad. He got signed up by Featherstone and I went to watch him play at Post Office Road and realised that RL was a much greater sport to watch than any other and became completely hooked. It became a major part of my life and I edited the Fev programme for a number of years, became a trustee of the foundation and spend a large part of my time producing fevnut's blog!

And the young lad was who caused me to start watching was ... Charlie Stone!

 

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Played a little rugby union in university in British Columbia Nd never heard of rugby league. Remember one time seeing league on t.v. for 5 mins or so wondering what the hell was going on. Flah forward a couple decades and the toronto wolfpack announced a professional rugby team was coming to town and wanted to support canadas first rugby team. I didn't know it was league that was coming to town,. But when I saw the first game on t.v. and seeing fun fui moi moi steamrolling people I got hooked. Cant watch rugby union anymore and be as excited.

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Racing out of the line and intercepting the 'heartlander' ball: I was 24 and having a good time trailing round Castleford when friends were talking of winning a semi-final and then to WEMBERLY!  Wow! WEMBERLY is proper and famous and Cas could be playing there. Rugby at this point was just blokes running at each other but I'd put up to it for a trip to Wembley with my mates. Went down t'Lane to see what was happening  and never looked back. 

There are the Lost even in the Heartlands.

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Interesting.

Edited by RayCee

My blog: https://rugbyl.blogspot.co.nz/

It takes wisdom to know when a discussion has run its course.

It takes reasonableness to end that discussion. 

 

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Stumbled on a Challenge Cup final one year. May have been 1980.

Hadn't a clue what was going on but was enjoying it so made a point of watching every year.

Then around the early 1990s some mates from the football started going to watch Featherstone Rovers (can't recall why - not a natural team to follow from Stourbridge but there you are).

So in 1991 or 1992 attended my first live game - Warrington v Featherstone at Wilderspool - and the rest is history.

Been a Wire fan ever since and a season ticket holder for 20 years!

 

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Last new RL ground (96): Queensway Stadium - North Wales v South Wales 25/6/17

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1 hour ago, Black Country Wire said:

Been a Wire fan ever since and a season ticket holder for 20 years!

Always encouraging to see how many Wire fans come from further down the M6 and across the M56.

I’ve always wondered why the club don’t push their efforts a little further towards the midlands and north wales as we are within an hour of Wrexham and Staffs/Shrops...   I suppose a lot of the time it’s a case of making people aware that RL exists, let alone Warrington.

Does surprise me how often I see Wire shirts further south than the M62 though.   Not sure whether that’s indigenous Warringtonians who left, or curious observers who wonder what life is like north of Crewe 😁

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Born and bred in County Durham, had never seen any RL, went to college in Leeds in '85 where I shared a house with a Fax fan. The house was literally 2 minutes from Headingley and I was bored one night so went to a match with him, think it was Swinton against Dewsbury in some cup. Started to go to Leeds until I had finished at college then didn't watch any for about 7 years. A friend of mine moved to Wakefield so I went to a couple of games then became a season ticket holder, 20 years flies by! Good choice eh?

Edited by Eleftherios
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1 hour ago, Black Country Wire said:

Stumbled on a Challenge Cup final one year. May have been 1980.

Hadn't a clue what was going on but was enjoying it so made a point of watching every year.

Then around the early 1990s some mates from the football started going to watch Featherstone Rovers (can't recall why - not a natural team to follow from Stourbridge but there you are).

So in 1991 or 1992 attended my first live game - Warrington v Featherstone at Wilderspool - and the rest is history.

Been a Wire fan ever since and a season ticket holder for 20 years!

 

I was going to call your a glory hunter but then remembered Warrington haven't actually won the league for 65 years haha.

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When Sky made a big hoo-haa about the move to summer rugby in 1996, I thought I'd give it a go.

Could be my memory playing tricks, but it seemed like St Helens won almost every game with a late try and seeing the mighty Wigan (who I'd heard so much about, even though I'd hardly ever seen them play) dethroned made for a really exciting first Super League season.

From there I watched it on telly whenever I could - finding pubs as a student in Reading in the mid-90s that were showing RL was often a challenge.

The big catalyst though was living in west London in the early 2000s. Broncos were playing at Griffin Park, which was a short walk from my flat. They had a decent mid-table side then and the beer offer of six cans in an ice bucket for £10 was pretty tempting too.

I've loved the game ever since and have just today booked tickets for my first NRL match - Brisbane v Melbourne in August!

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4 hours ago, Black Country Wire said:

Stumbled on a Challenge Cup final one year. May have been 1980.

Hadn't a clue what was going on but was enjoying it so made a point of watching every year.

Then around the early 1990s some mates from the football started going to watch Featherstone Rovers (can't recall why - not a natural team to follow from Stourbridge but there you are).

So in 1991 or 1992 attended my first live game - Warrington v Featherstone at Wilderspool - and the rest is history.

Been a Wire fan ever since and a season ticket holder for 20 years!

 

Only theory I could come up with is that there is a place also called Featherstone just north of Wolverhampton so technically they could be their local team?! 

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Never had any interest in Rugby League. In fact I'd never even watched a game before in my life, it was always just football for me and no great interest in any other sports. Same as everyone else in my family as well as my friends.Then they brought Magic Weekend up to Newcastle. Bought tickets more for the novelty factor more than anything else and was hooked almost immediately and have been ever since.

Our family now hold 3 season tickets at Newcastle Thunder, get to the odd away game, and if ever a RL game clashes with a football match on TV, Rugby League takes priority these days.

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