Talking Grassroots: Kicking off the New Year

There’s only one place to be on Sunday as far as amateur Rugby League aficionados are concerned.

That’s the Millennium Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone, where the Open Age and Under 18s BARLA Yorkshire Cup Finals are taking place.

Stanningley and West Hull are contesting the youth decider, which kicks off at 11.30am while, at 2pm, Doncaster Toll Bar will go head to head in the Open Age final against Hunslet Club Parkside.

At only £3 (£2 for old codgers and teenagers, and nowt for under 16s) admission is a real snip; I’ve no doubt that BARLA will be rewarded for reducing its pricings with a bumper crowd for what is one of Rugby League’s great occasions.

It’s good to find myself writing about action on the field of play, even if it’s only in a previewing sense.

The rest of my first offering of 2022 relates to money although happily – in the main, anyway – in a positive way.

I’m delighted to report in today’s League Express how Dave Merrick’s long-distance swimming in aid of the Rob Burrow Fund, which climaxed on Christmas Eve, has raised almost ten grand.

And, this Saturday another referee, Joe Stearne (what ‘givers’ match officials are!) will be taking on the daunting run from Ossett to Old Trafford to raise funds for the MacMillan charity, which has given so much support to him and his partner Charlotte, as it has done – and will continue to do – for so many others.

It’s still possible to donate to Dave’s and Joe’s initiatives. Dave’s details are listed elsewhere in today’s paper – Joe’s is

Meanwhile, grassroots Rugby League has already benefited immensely, financially, from this year’s delayed World Cup and it’s a nice touch, for me, that the last piece of news I received in 2021 was from Higginshaw, who have received over £16,000 from the CreatedBy Capital Grants Programme towards the cost of crucial ground maintenance equipment. That seemed to me to be an entirely appropriate way of seeing out what otherwise has been a pretty testing year.

And, just before Christmas, the Rugby Football League issued a press release highlighting how the sport, including at the grassroots, has benefited from the governing body’s work with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), noting that over £600,000 had found its way into the game, £340,000 of that going directly to amateur clubs to help them fend off the effects of the pandemic.

I posted that release on the website, as League Express wasn’t published last Monday, and I’m sure it was well received by the many people who toil so tirelessly at the grassroots. Many of those will, I imagine, take part in the New Year funding workshop on 12 January; more information can be obtained by emailing

All that is, I suppose, timely, as 2022 brings with it the RFL’s Membership Scheme, which is compulsory for all grassroots players. I remain, naturally, very interested in how this issue will pan out and it was disconcerting to hear, during the Christmas period, from a very long-serving stalwart (one who is always open-minded, I have to say) who is gravely concerned. I hope his worries are unfounded. We shall see.

Meanwhile, all the very best for the New Year to all our readers.

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