Three years ago Craig Lingard started a project to record the history of a club that he helped to shape.
The Batley coach is the Bulldogs’ all-time top try scorer after racking up 142 during his playing days as a prolific fullback.
His work in the local community sparked an interest in chronicling the club’s long history, and when his application for a lottery heritage grant was successful, Lingard’s project began.
Lingard explained: “I’d always been involved in the community side of the club from my playing days, going to the schools and delivering assemblies on healthy lifestyles, that kind of thing.
“Even after I left I remained involved with the community stuff, and it was me that put in the application for a heritage project grant to look at the history of the club.
“We were awarded that on a three-year project, and it’s funded the book and other projects including the Hall of Fame that we’ve launched.
“We’re still finishing the heritage numbers, which have been delayed slightly by coronavirus, but which are 95 per cent complete.
“Although books had been written previously, there were no actual records kept at the club from pretty much the pre-Kevin Nicholas days.
“There wasn’t much information there and we pretty much started from scratch, but we’re trying to fall in line with other clubs’ history and heritage projects.
“The main research for the book has been done by Terry Swift, who hand-wrote over 1,000 newspaper reports, and Ken Pearson, who went through all the library newspaper reports.
“Then John Roe, who wrote ‘Sermons from the Mount’ about the club, pulled all the information together and helped put together the order of the book.
“I’m a bit of a history buff myself and love going into the history of the game.
“Not just the game but history in general. I like anything from the past, so this was ideal for me.
“Getting to know the history of the club, its players, their families and their stories has been brilliant.”
The book’s research also led to an unexpected family revelation.
He explained: “From a personal point of view I also found out something that I didn’t know, and that was that my granddad Benny played for the club.
“My dad Steve played for Batley and his dad died when he was only two, so none of us knew about it.
“But he played around the time of the Second World Ward as a guest player, just one or two games.
“There was also a guy called Frank Lingard who played for the club for a number of years and he was my granddad’s brother.”
Although the book has been published primarily to archive Batley’s history, Lingard believes that its appeal should extend well beyond the club.
He added: “I’ve been very proud of the efforts of the three guys involved.
“All the reports in there are quoted directly from the newspapers, because that’s how we wanted to do it – it’s not a book with our opinions in it, it’s taking the accounts of the time.
“I think people outside of Batley would enjoy it too, because it’s a record of how the club developed and other clubs will have similar stories.
“It’s a good book for people interested in Batley and Rugby League in general, but it’s also a social history.
“We’ve tried to include a timeline of other events that happened in the UK at the corresponding time to paint that picture.”
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