THE south Leeds suburb of Middleton, once a hotbed of amateur Rugby League, is again to house an Open Age team after a hiatus of several years.
South Leeds RLFC has been launched by a group of enthusiasts, and will play on the same site – the famous Nutty Slack – as the one shared by the Middleton Arms and Thorpe four or five decades ago.
The pitch was taken over by Leeds Corinthians RUFC who, it turns out, sparked the latest initiative.
Roger Daniel, the secretary of the new club and a former Middleton Marauders and Corinthians player, said: “A few weeks ago the Corinthians’ committee, aware of my keen interest in Rugby League, approached me about setting up a team. They’re motivated primarily by a desire to keep their clubhouse open all year round, and they’ve been very supportive.
“So I approached the Yorkshire Men’s League with a view to joining this season. Their administrator, Chris Spurr, has been fantastic. He said that we were a few weeks too late to join formally, but he says we’re fine to play friendlies, and can take the place of any side that might fold.”
South Leeds have also been helped immensely by former England player Ikram Butt, who is the driving force behind the British Asian Rugby League Association. Butt, who played for Hunslet Hawks among several professional outfits, is supplying the team with a set of kit until an order for a new strip comes through.
“We’re very excited about this venture,” said Daniel. “Middleton has been without a team for far too long, following the demise of our most recent predecessors a few years ago. We aim to be here for the long haul.”
Another new side in the Yorkshire Men’s League in 2018, in addition to South Leeds and Kirkburton, is Sheffield Forgers, while teams that have switched from elsewhere include the likes of Crofton Sports, Lindley Swifts, Newsome Panthers, Underbank Rangers A, Upton and Yorkshire Scalpels.
Chairman Stuart Sheard said: “It is very encouraging that our strong and vibrant competition continues to provide meaningful playing opportunities for clubs at all levels of the community game, across the length and breadth of the county.”