Former Great Britain hooker and Sky Sports pundit Mike Stephenson has given the thumbs up to plans to create a new national Rugby League museum at Huddersfield’s historic George Hotel.
The RL Cares charity and Kirklees Council are joining forces to create what they say will be a facility for the future to reflect the game’s rich and eventful past.
The George, of course, is renowned as being the birthplace of the Northern Union as it was the location of the meeting in August 1895 at which 21 clubs broke away from the Rugby Football Union.
It enabled working-class players to be compensated for wages lost while playing rugby.
And until its closure in 2013, it hosted a personal museum set up by former Dewsbury and Penrith player Stephenson, who is an avid collector of Rugby League memorabilia.
Now Kirklees has purchased the grade two listed building as part of a wider £250m town-centre regeneration scheme.
And the new museum, which it is hoped will open by Autumn 2023 with the help of National Lottery funding, will have the capacity to exhibit even more than Stephenson’s collection.
“What was on display was only about 50 per cent of the amount of stuff I have. I used to keep changing it around like most museums,” Stephenson explained.
“Now, by all accounts, we’ll be able to add to it even more. People are very kind, and often donate things, so I’m just hoping they will carry on.
“I’m pleased as punch it’s going back to where our sport was born. There are not many sports that can say that.”