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Bedfordshire Bronco

Living in a rugby league town

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I've always joked that I am from a rugby league town (Hemel) and I guess it's the nearest thing there is down south. However the reality is that some of us who went to school here got exposed to it at school and the stags get in the paper sometimes but that's it. Really it's a football town like most of everywhere else. As a Northampton Saints fan I get a bit of 'rugby town' feel up there but.... 

What's it like to grow up in Wigan, Wakey, Hull or all the other league hotpots? From a sporting view that is

I always think its so great when I go to away games and see what feels like the whole of a small town walking to the game... Featherstone / Cas stand out particularly for this over the years... Places that seem to have rugby posts in every park

Must be great to see it all over the local press/adverts and to see the club brand as the big name in town/school

Living in Sydney I guess is the ultimate for this! 

Edited by Bedfordshire Bronco
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I grew up in St. Helens and took it for granted until I moved to Nottingham. I probably have more appreciation for it now. Just little things like now if I see someone in an RL shirt now its a big thing and i'll try and get talking to them, rather than it happening multiple times just going to Tesco. Another one is now having to explain "Not THAT type of rugby" and what the difference is. I do miss St. Helens in this regard!

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8 minutes ago, Saint 1 said:

I grew up in St. Helens and took it for granted until I moved to Nottingham. I probably have more appreciation for it now. Just little things like now if I see someone in an RL shirt now its a big thing and i'll try and get talking to them, rather than it happening multiple times just going to Tesco. Another one is now having to explain "Not THAT type of rugby" and what the difference is. I do miss St. Helens in this regard!

Similar experiences to my own, although in Leyland there are quite a few of us scattered around. Living in a non-RL town has given me a greater appreciation of the game and also instilled a certain fortress mentality to defend, support and promote it whenever I can.

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You've have a point here. Cas is as good as a rugby town as you'll find but I suspect that more of the population know more about arsenal hotspurs and manchester albion rovers than the Tigers. That's how it is. The upside to this is meeting a rugby fan far from home and finding a true believer, a speaker of an arcane language. Particularly when others look on not knowing what we're going on about at length. Unless of course you meet a mere glory Hunter who is only concerned about his own standing in some hierarchy.

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Rah Rah Emissary:  Our Bigotry will blot out the sun.

Legio XIII:                  Then we shall play in the shade.

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I grew up between Sydney and Newcastle. Newcastle makes Wigan look like a soccer town.

It was just normal. It was rugby rugby rugby league..... and surfing.

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Rugby League has always been a big part of life in Hull and with two clubs there is always someone who you can talk RL with. Now I live somewhere with zero interest in the game means I can't talk to anyone I know about it and when I mention that I watched a game on TV I get a quizzical "you watched Rugby?" response. There have been times when I have worn a Rovers shirt and someone has mistaken it for a Liverpool shirt 🙄.  I do see the occasional St Helens shirts and when I was going into work the day after the derby the other week I actually saw someone who was wearing a Hull FC shirt.

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Growing up in Wigan was strange. When I first started going regularly, (c'74) I was considered weird. As an 8 yo I vividly remember being asked by an incredulous classmate "Is it really true you like rugby better than football?" I remember my Dad telling his mate we were off to Central Park. "Fancy a laugh, do you?"

The game really WAS on its backside then. But I went to every game, and every home A team game too. Wigan Athletic were elected to the League in '78 and football became dominant and uber trendy for a while.

I kept going. Even when we went down. And back up again. Meantime, there were some really great St Pats Youth sides emerging, Wane, Lydon, Mike and Andy Gregory, as well as others who didn't make it, who started to get really decent crowds to watch them. Four figure crowds for Amateur u-19s! Widnes picked the best, as the power house of the time. I went to play for Pats under 14s after previously playing in a Union side with 3 future full GB internationals in it.

Then, when Lindsay took over, and Shaun Edwards (the finest player I ever was honoured to share a field with, by a country mile) signed for Wigan, it just kinda exploded. Success led to crowds growing, to more money, to better signings, to every single youth prospect wanting to sign etc, etc. We became not just the best side in the League, but the best club rugby team of either code in the world!

Suddenly every ###### was, and had always been, a bloody expert and die hard fan! I do recommend Paul Wilsons "Best Days of Our Lives" for the full story, if it is still in print.

Edited by dixiedean
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6 hours ago, Whippet13 said:

Similar experiences to my own, although in Leyland there are quite a few of us scattered around. Living in a non-RL town has given me a greater appreciation of the game and also instilled a certain fortress mentality to defend, support and promote it whenever I can.

Same here, grew up in Rochdale when RL was healthy in the area. Now living a few miles up the road from you in Preston which is definitely a non RL town (city in name) as you will be aware.

Living in a soccer mad place gives me the same defensiveness of our game. Will always promote RL but it's like the proverbial banging your head against the wall. 

But a few of us here know what is the best game on the planet and happy to be in the minority. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I wish I lived in a RL city but I live in Salford. If you went to some pubs within 2 miles of the ground on match days most of the patrons would not know there was a RL match on, especially in football season.

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This is way back in the early 80s but remember when I moved from Berkshire to Bradford to go university that the sports tops I saw around the town were more times than not Northern ones (they certainly outnumbered the football club back then). Add to that coverage in the local paper plus slots on the local news and it was a very very different one to the world I grew up in where, save for grandstand, RL did not exist. 

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Whenever I go shopping with my wife, I make a point of striking up a conversation with anyone wearing a league shirt (the club doesn't matter). Its always good to get someone else's view on what's happening in the game. By and large league fans are usually up for a chat about the greatest game.

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21 minutes ago, deluded pom? said:

 

Never understood those shots of US towns in this video.

Prefer The Falls Hit The North!

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League is everything in Hull despite what the football fans will try to tell you. When you're walking through the centre league shirts dominate football 10-1 and not necessarily just fc or kr shirts. Amazing the amount of NRL shirts you will see as well. To be fair, with the crisis the football team are in at the mo you see more Liverpool and Man U tops than you do a Hull City ones. Rugby fans always seem to have a smile on their faces, the football fans always look like they've seen their own ######. 

There has always been a lot of animosity from the football fans towards us. The amount of times I have had Hull City fans try to rip apart league to me through what is clearly jealousy is hilarious. They always say the same ignorant, misinformed arguments which they treat as if they are the first person to present this revelation to you while you just stand there yawning and checking your watch occasionally. Add in a few half-hearted nods and "mm-hmm"s and you've got a conversation about rugby league with a Hull City fan! Of course the whole time you're sarcastically thinking,"yep, not heard that one before, oh wait yes I have", "you've made a point there, an ignorant, retarded one but a point nonetheless", and so on and so on. I had a football fan not long ago having a go at league for having a grand final and basically shouting in my face, "the team that tops the table are the best team and should win the league!" of course I tried pointing out that football is pretty much the only sport in the world that doesn't have a playoff system but because said individual was a football fan it was like talking to a brick wall. Anyway point is that in Hull rugby league is dominant and football fans really don't like that. 

One thing I really do notice is how as soon as two randomers get talking almost always the first topic is league. More often than not the people will have some sort of affiliation and then that's it, off they go on an hour long convo in the street about the latest happenings in rugby league land. These people are now best friends despite having only met minutes before. Of course their friendship is over an hour later when they part ways. This happens to me quite often. I will randomly get stopped by someone who will proclaim something like, "how do you think Houghton did at weekend?" I will look at this person whom I don't know for a moment while a think, "oh, they must have seen me at the game", and with that I initiate the in depth discussion that I have had laid out in front of me. There is no need to question how this random individual knows me, it is just assumed. Names are never exchanged because all you need to know is this is a fellow league fan.

You'd never get two football fans just coming together like that and that is one of the things I love about league in general. All fans of any club stick together and are the best of friends when our mutual interest is raised because we are in a minority. Rugby league has such a fantastic community. I always bring up an example of when we beat Wigan at Wembley. After, I was stood outside the coach waiting for everyone to return and there was a Wigan coach next to ours. I got talking with a couple of Wigan fans who congratulated me and we had a laugh and a natter about the upcoming weekends games and what have you and we parted ways. If that was football I'd have been getting back on that coach with a few teeth missing, a massive gash down my face and the loss of sight in one eye. League brings people together like nothing else does. 

Edited by The Hallucinating Goose
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2 hours ago, The Hallucinating Goose said:

League is everything in Hull despite what the football fans will try to tell you. When you're walking through the centre league shirts dominate football 10-1 and not necessarily just fc or kr shirts. Amazing the amount of NRL shirts you will see as well.

I met fans from Hull in Wollongong when they played Wigan.

Their knowledge and passion for the game was outstanding. It really was part of their identity.

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Living in Hull and Rugby League go hand in hand, from the grassroots to the top level. 

Yes football has a great set up for grassroots and kids generally play both.

But the feel of the city is Rugby League, every high school has a team, we have 9-10 grassroots teams at every age group from 6s to 18s on top of that we have 5 teams in the NCL divisions and 2 super league clubs. Like has been said above the first contact generally is who do you support?

 

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From St Helens, brought up in Orrell  Wigan, it was a nightmare through the years.

Edited by Bod
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I don't think I ever appreciated it at the time as it was the norm, but growing up in Hunslet is the most intensely RL environment I can imagine anywhere on earth IMO. This little pocket of South Leeds (including Belle Isle, Middleton and to an extent Rothwell) is absolutely RL through and through. Every second person you see either played, is playing or will be playing League. With 3 amateur clubs and the semi pro side you just can't help but be linked to the game. I live many miles away now but it does allow me to feel whatever one else must when you enter the area when I return. When I hear about other towns where the game is in decline I just can't ever imagine that in Hunslet and I hope that's always the case. 

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Having lived in both Wakefield and Featherstone I have noticed a real difference between two "rugby towns". Despite having never had a professional football team but have a Super League team, I would still say Wakefield is a football city. That's what most people are interested in, that's what more kids play and probably just as many people travel from Wakefield to watch Leeds United every week as watch Trinity, and that's not including those who support one of the big premier league teams or watch only on TV. There is still a strong Rugby League presence though.

Featherstone on the other hand it seems like everyone is wearing Fev shirts, it's the main topic of conversation in the pubs and there are more rugby than football pitches.

I think that the dominance of football nationally means that any town over a certain size is always going to be a football town. Even in Wigan the football crowds in the third tier aren't too far off the rugby crowds after winning Super League and they've got to compete with a massive percentage of Manchester United/City fans. There are only a handful of small towns where I would say rugby league is the most popular sport. Featherstone, Leigh, maybe Castleford? etc.

 

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Wakefield’s a Rugby City but like everywhere football is popular.  I’ve never gave it a second thought having always lived here but main topic of conversation when queuing in the Chippy or in the pubs etc is RL/Trinity.  All the schools still play young in playing for the various amateur sides, Outwood are out in Australia now winning their last 2 matches.  You’ll always know someone playing or has played pro level or decent amateur level RL.  Walk in to most pubs/ clubs on a Friday night the Rugby will be on with plenty watching.  You see more people than ever walking around in Trinity gear the new badge and dropping the wildcats name has gone down well.  As for an RL town it’s just the norm.  Leeds United are massive in Wakefield but they’re a big club probably same for Man U in Warrington Liverpool in Saint Helens.

 

Up the Trin 

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5 hours ago, Faithful1865 said:

Whenever I go shopping with my wife, I make a point of striking up a conversation with anyone wearing a league shirt (the club doesn't matter). Its always good to get someone else's view on what's happening in the game. By and large league fans are usually up for a chat about the greatest game.

And it happens in the strangest places.  I walked into my local library in a suburb of Glasgow wearing a Canterbury Bulldogs shirt (it had been reduced from £80 to £25 in a sale!) and noticed I was being eyeballed by a new librarian.  Turned out to be an Aussie who explained that he couldn't believe he'd seen a Bulldogs shirt in Glasgow which was why he kept looking!  Many a Rugby League chat since then.

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