The world’s oldest Rugby League club, Millom RLFC, are gearing up for one of the biggest game’s of their history this Sunday, as they host Red Star Belgrade.
Red Star were inducted into the Challenge Cup ahead of 2019, with the game set to be live streamed on the BBC Sport website. Millom, who were formed in 1873, will be the first ever cup opponents for Red Star, who are affiliated with their European Cup winning football counterparts.
“We were a bit unsure about entering this year’s competition with the number of fixtures increasing in our league, but when you get a draw like this, there is no doubt everyone should want to enter into the Challenge Cup,” said Millom RLFC coach Tim Sibley.
“I was lucky enough to tour Serbia with England Lion hearts in 2006 and the people made us very welcome and Belgrade was a great place to visit. Everyone involved in rugby will be looking at this game and it will be good to see how far the domestic game has developed in Serbia.”
Last season saw Millom finish third in the NCL division three, the seventh tier of the English pyramid, while Red Star finished a perfect season by winning the Balkan Super League, Serbian Championship and Serbian Cup.
And the ambitious Serbian club, are set to begin life in the Challenge Cup, in the mining town of Millom, Cumbria. With a population of under 6,000 people, and located to the North of Barrow, Rugby League is, unsurprisingly, well-knitted into the community.
“The Millom Community suffered severe flooding to several areas of the town, This caused major disruption and heartache for many to our small but close knit town,” explained Angela Dixon, deputy mayor of Millom.
“The lads from the Rugby young and old, all turned up to help the unfortunate victims with the clean-up, They are a fantastic bunch, nothing is too much of a problem. Millom would not be Millom with this kind of community spirit.
In the opposite camp, Red Star Belgrade, who have made no secret their ambitions of joining League 1 in the future, are relishing the opportunity to showcase themselves to the British public.
“We are absolutely honoured to play our first ever Challenge Cup match at the home of the world’s oldest amateur rugby league team, Millom RLFC,” said owner Colin Klewyeg.
“This opportunity connects us to the heartlands of the game which is where we want to be. There are a number of Serbian international players who will be making this trip to Millom and this will be arguably in their top three experiences in international rugby league.”