All eyes in the Rugby League world will be on Nottingham this Saturday as Nottingham Outlaws play their first ever game at their new Lenton Lane home against a currently unbeaten East Hull side in a Yorkshire Premier League fixture (ko 2.30pm) writes Richard Johnson.
After more than 30 years of nomadic existence the Outlaws dream of finally having a place they can call home has come true. The opening game will be a tough one but the result, in many ways, will be irrelevant. The big story is that Rugby League has finally found a home in the city and that is why Saturday will be so special.
In the few short weeks since they first announced the deal to take over the ground the committee members, players and supporters of the club have all rolled up their sleeves to turn what was formerly a dilapidated football ground into a first class Rugby League venue.
The final pieces of the jigsaw came together this week when the pitch was marked, the sockets were cemented in place and the rugby posts were finally erected. For the first time the venue really did look, and feel, like a Rugby League ground!
Whilst there is still plenty of work to do to improve the current club house and surrounding areas, the committee already have bold plans for the future development of the six-acre site. However Saturday is all about celebrating their arrival at their new home. Indeed the whole day is being planned to mark the occasion with events starting as soon as the gates are opened at 11.00am.
Alongside the celebrations the club will be launching a number of fund raising initiatives including the unveiling of a new `100 Club’ to help support the club through the expensive refurbishments of the recent few weeks
Delighted Chairman Richard Johnson was quick to give thanks to those volunteers who have put in so much time in recent weeks in order to get the ground ready, commenting: “We moved in just before Easter and it was fair to say that the place was pretty much akin to a bomb site. Then, to make matters worse, the clubhouse flooded so we had to rip out the carpets and throw away most of the fixtures and fittings.
“However despite these hurdles our hardworking volunteers have worked minor miracles to re-build it. I won’t name them individually, they know who they are and I salute each and every one of them.”
Much of the hard work has been done, certainly the venue is ready to host its first game, so now the focus is on the clubs supporters and the wider rugby community to step up to the mark, as the chairman was quick to point out, adding “ever since I was involved in Rugby League in Nottingham, stretching back into the 1980s people always said wouldn’t it be great if the club had its own ground.
“Well, after many years of toil we have finally delivered what many only dared dream of. Now it’s the turn of the supporters, former players and Rugby League fans in general to do their bit by turning up on Saturday to support the club on the most important day in the history of the game in Nottingham.”
Supporters are urged to use public transport and arrive early. The busy schedule of events include:
11.00am gates open
11.15am Outlaws bar `The Third Man Inn’ opens for business
11.30am Touch rugby starts (open to all, finishes 12.30pm)
12.00pm Afternoon tea and cakes served in the club house
12.30pm Opening of cask ales provided by Lenton Lane Brewery
1.00pm Launch of 2018 range of Outlaws merchandise
2.00pm Entrance of Little John Beer Barrow
2.30pm Nottingham Outlaws v East Hull
4.30pm Man of the match awards
5.00pm Food available for supporters
6.00pm Happy Hour
6.30pm Bubbly served (toast the new club house)
7.00pm Whisky galore
8.00pm ‘til late: Drinks and carriages