Grassroots Rugby League round-up

The Lancashire Federation of Rugby League Supporters’ Clubs is looking ahead to its next annual get-together, which will be held early next year.

The event, on Friday, January 13 and Saturday 14, will be hosted by the Doric Hotel, Blackpool.

Federation president Ron Hunter told League Express: “The federation was re-formed in September 1976 by Lancashire and Cheshire clubs with membership subsequently extended to Cumbrian clubs, with Fulham joining in 1980.

“From 1977, it was agreed to hold an annual event which was used as a ‘player of the year’ award ceremony.

“We had good relations with the Lancashire County Rugby League and sponsored the Lancashire Cup final match ball and the man of the match award.”

When the Rugby Football League enjoyed its centenary in 1995, the Lancashire Federation of Supporters’ Clubs launched its annual dinner, in Blackpool.

“It’s still going,” added Hunter. “Our last few speakers have been Lee Briers. Bill Ashurst, Brian Noble MBE, Jon Wilkin, Iestyn Harris, Bobbie Goulding and Adrian Morley.

“Because of the decline in the number of supporters’ clubs, we now have just seven in membership, but in 2023, we will once again be holding the event, and the hotel will be putting on acts on both days, with our chief guest speaking on the Saturday.

“The cost for Friday and Saturday, which includes dinner, bed and breakfast, is £130. For Saturday dinner, bed and breakfast, it’s £75 and, for the meal only on the Saturday, it’s £26.”


South Norfolk outfit Anglia Vipers’ scheduled home friendly next week at Wymondham RUFC against the RAF’s Academy side will not go ahead. 

The RAF have had no alternative other than to cancel as their first team is playing a match in Hull on the same night, and could be short of numbers because of a number of injury concerns.

The Academy side will now play Skirlaugh, to facilitate the switching of players from one team to another if necessary. 

Vipers official Ed Lambert said: “They’ve given us plenty of notice and have been very courteous about it. We have no complaints, and hopefully we’ll be able to play them next season.

“We’ve decided to wrap this season up rather than pursue another game.

“We’ve achieved our main objective for our first campaign, which was to fulfil every fixture. We have won a couple, have signed up around 40 lads who have never played Rugby League before, and have eight ladies training regularly, so we’re pleased with how things have gone. I’m sure we’ll be stronger next season too.”


Oulton Raiders will mark their diamond jubilee on Saturday, when Saddleworth Rangers visit for a National Conference League Division One fixture.

The South Leeds outfit, launched as Oulton Miners Welfare in 1962 – playing out of what became the Bentley Arms and which for a decade or more housed Rugby League’s Hall of Fame – became the Three Horse Shoes for a spell in the 1970s before settling in at Oulton Cricket Club.

A real highlight of the last 60 years is the 2006 National Conference League campaign when the Raiders, under chairman Jack Hirst, confounded their peers by winning the Championship, beating Thornhill Trojans in a memorable Grand Final at Mount Pleasant, Batley. 

That team included a young Ryan Hall and the former professional Mick Coyle who, like coach Billy Bowden, had graced Hunslet’s second row for many years.

Danny Burton, Sasch Brook and Carlos Sanchez were just three of that very strong side, most of whom could well be on hand this Saturday and, quite possibly, well into the night.

And several will no doubt raise a glass to the man who, above all, kick-started their Rugby League adventure. That man, Stephen ‘Rocky’ Whitehead, who passed away in December 2020 at the age of 73, was the driving force behind the club’s famous ‘tots’ sides, known as Rocky’s Giants.

The club’s many products who have gone on to grace Super League – some having learned how to enjoy the sport with Rocky’s Giants – include Ash Handley, James Bentley, Jack Walker, Alex Sutcliffe, Luis Johnson, Ryan Hudson and Kelvin Skerrett, in addition to Hall. 

Never a club to rest on its laurels, Oulton have – through the Raidettes – sustained women’s Rugby League for a decade and a spokesperson said: “Our 60th anniversary is set to be a special occasion, looking back at all the club has achieved for our community over the past six decades.

“We look forward to welcoming back many old faces and sharing so many wonderful memories from days gone by, while also raising a glass to remember those no longer with us and looking ahead to many more years of success at Raider Park.”


The World Cup preparations of the Ireland and Wales wheelchair camps will close on Saturday, October 8, when the sides will meet at the Calderdale Leisure Centre, Halifax.

Both coaches will select their ten-player World Cup squads following the game and Irish boss Damian McCabe, who has notional home advantage, said: “This game forms an important part of our final preparations.

“It will be less than a month away from the opening of the World Cup and we take on a strong Wales side that has had the better of us for the last six years.

“We have trained hard for the last 18 months and have shown improvement each time we’ve played. I’m looking to see that growth continue.”

Wales won the recent Celtic Cup encounter between the sides 64-22, on their way to retaining the title.

Head coach Stephen Jones said: “We have played against Ireland numerous times and have a great record against them, but we will be putting a strong team out and definitely won’t take them lightly.

“All our players are itching to prove they belong in the squad and are going to be using this game to try to secure a place in the starting line-up for the group stages of the World Cup.”


The National Conference League has confirmed its programme of televised fixtures for the remainder of the 2022 season – right through to the Grand Final, which will be hosted by Featherstone Rovers on Saturday, October 8. 

The first of the five games to be broadcast live on the Rugby Football League’s OurLeague platform will be this Saturday, when West Bowling entertain Cumbrians Kells in a key Division One promotion showdown in Bradford.

Seven days later, viewers will be treated to the Premier Division fixture at Twist Lane in which Leigh Miners Rangers take on old rivals Wath Brow Hornets.

Coverage of the flagship league resumes on Saturday, September 10, when the selected match involves the fourth and fifth-placed sides in the Championship play-offs.

The following Saturday, September 17, attention will focus of the Division One Grand Final, in which a place in the top flight in 2023 will be at stake, and the season’s action will then climax at Featherstone on the second Saturday of October.

NCL Chairman Trevor Hunt said: “As always, we have a big end to the season across the entire league and we are pleased to set out our broadcast plans over the next few weeks which will take in key games from the Premier Division and Division One before focusing on the play-offs.”

Saturday, August 13 – West Bowling v Kells
Saturday, August 20 – Leigh Miners Rangers v Wath Brow Hornets
Saturday, September 10 – Premier Division play-offs (4th v 5th)
Saturday, September 17 – Division One play-off Final
Saturday, October 8 – Grand Final


Matty McGEOWN of Leigh Miners Rangers is embarking on a 14-game suspension. 

McGeown was handed a 16-match ban (reduced by two games in the light of his previous good record and guilty plea) after being found at least week’s disciplinary hearing of firing sustained foul and abusive language to the match official during his club’s 22-20 Premier Division victory over Thatto Heath Crusaders on July 23. 

A heavy sentence – of ten games – has also been imposed on Ethan Hallas who, in Drighlington’s 42-20 Division Three defeat at Leigh East on June 18, was found guilty of spitting (eight matches), and a headbutt (three games, reduced to two for his guilty plea).

Rochdale Mayfield’s Reece Hamlett, meanwhile, is suspended for eight games, for foul and abusive language to the match official in the top-flight fixture against West Hull, who won 44-6, on July 9.

Will Smith of Featherstone Lions, who was deemed guilty of running in and punching in the 28-20 Division One success over Saddleworth Rangers on July 9, received an eight-match sanction (reduced to seven for his previous good behaviour).

Rangers’ Rhys Wareing and Matt Whitehead, meanwhile, both had six-match bans reduced to four, for previous good records and guilty pleas. Wareing was sanctioned for foul and abusive language to a match official, and Whitehead for running in and punching.

Elsewhere, two West Bowling players, Kieron Baker and Nat Light, will be sidelined for six games for indiscretions in the 24-20 win over Division One’s bottom side Milford on July 23.

Both were both found guilty of punching and banned for eight matches (reduced by two in each instance for previous good records and guilty pleas).

James Buckley of Saddleworth Rangers, found guilty of a headbutt and foul and abusive language in his team’s 48-24 reverse at the hands of Division One promotion hopefuls Ince Rose Bridge on July 16, is suspended for six games (down from seven for his guilty plea).

A couple of Woolston Rovers players – Scott Whiteley and Dan Fearnley – will also be out for several weeks, in each case for running in and punching in the 28-22 Division Two win over Hunslet Warriors on June 18. Both had six-match bans reduced to four games, because of guilty pleas and previous good records.

Rovers’ Paul Alcock, meanwhile, was suspended for four games (halved for his guilty plea and previous good behaviour) for punching in the same fixture.

Jamie Holroyd, whose Thatto Heath side lost 54-6 at West Hull in mid-July, was handed a five-game sentence (reduced to three) for punching in the fixture.

And, also on July 16, and also in the Premier Division, Lock Lane’s Danny Sowerby, who made a late shoulder charge in the 14-0 success over Wath Brow Hornets, is out for three games (initially four, but cut back for previous good behaviour).

And, not too far away that afternoon, Featherstone Lions’ Jack Arnold, who put in a late tackle to the head in his side’s 24-22 win over Division One strugglers Myton, has been given a three-game suspension.

Nathan Broadbent, of Bradford Dudley Hill, was found not guilty of use of use of the knees during his side’s 24-4 defeat on July 9 in the Division Two fixture at Hunslet Warriors. 


Wigan St Judes are appealing for help in identifying three youths who allegedly caused arson damage at their Parson’s Meadow base. 

Two vandals set fire to, and destroyed, a bench on the evening of Thursday, June 30. And, incredibly, it’s believed the duo returned – with another youth in tow – in the early hours of Saturday, July 30, causing similar destruction. 

Both incidents have been captured on CCTV and Judes official Paul McCormick said: “The Police are very keen to speak to these youths.

“We want to have a nice clubhouse for our members to enjoy without mindless acts of vandalism costing the club money replacing and repairing things when that cash could be spent elsewhere on improving facilities.”

He continued: “We replaced the bench after the first incident at a significant cost to the club.

“Four weeks later, what we suspect to be the same youths set fire and destroyed a further three benches and also significantly damaged the side of the clubhouse which, again, will cost the club a lot of money to repair and replace.

“It was extremely lucky the clubhouse was saved by the fire service, who thankfully attended both incidents.”

McCormick revealed: “In the second incident, three youths entered the patio at 00:16am and, within minutes, attempted to set fire to a bench, persevering for the next ten minutes without success.

“Eventually, at approximately 00:30am, they were successful and then set alight a bench on the far side of the patio. This bench burned for the next two hours.

“Then, at approximately 2:30am, two of the three youths returned to the scene and proceeded to set alight a second and a third bench, which only took ten more minutes. At 02:38am, a youth was seen running from the scene.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or email

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