League Express editor Martyn Sadler responds to criticism by some Widnes supporters following a comment he made on Twitter last night.
Last night I tweeted a comment when I was watching Widnes and Wigan to the effect that I wished that both teams would play in their traditional colours of black and white and cherry and white respectively.
It was partly inspired by the fact that the match could have been a game between Melbourne Storm and Canberra Raiders rather than between the Vikings and the Warriors.
What I didn’t anticipate was that my tweet would be interpreted by some Widnes supporters as an attack on the strip that had been designed for the club for this match by Charlie Rimmer, an eleven-year-old girl who is suffering from DIPG, a rare brain condition that severely limits her life expectancy.
Charlie came out with the Widnes team last night looking quite beautiful and rightly proud of her strip, which was based on her favourite colour purple and which demonstrated great design skills.
The kit was smart, striking and stylish, and anyone would be proud to wear it.
My comment was a general comment prompted by my memories of some great and wonderful matches between Widnes and Wigan in years gone by, when the famous white shirts and black shorts of Widnes, and the cherry and white hoops of Wigan gave us so many thrilling matches between two teams that were then instantly recognisable and at the top of their game.
Nowadays some of our clubs, with their traditional colours so often ignored, have trouble establishing such a clear identity as they were able to do all those years ago, when playing strips were generally simpler and relatively constant.
Earlier this year the Vikings had adopted Charlie as the club’s lifelong mascot, which they announced on Easter Monday, after originally being approached by Charlie’s aunt, Carmel, who asked the club for a signed shirt to help raise funds for a Just Giving Campaign aimed at raising money to fund some great life experiences for Charlie and her family.
Far from just offering Charlie a signed shirt, the Vikings went well beyond that, helping to raise the profile of the appeal.
The Vikings launched an official charity logo to assist with the crowd funding initiative, with the team wearing it on the rear collar of their first-team shirts and club members and supporters having the opportunity to have the logo applied to their replica shirts by making a £5 donation to the ChaRLie appeal. The charity logo (or Chogo) was designed by Charlie herself.
They then went one step beyond and invited Charlie to design the strip the players wore last night.
The Vikings are possibly the most progressive club in Rugby League in pursuing projects for charitable causes, and their work with the ChaRLie initiative is just the latest example of this. It puts the club at the heart of its community.
The club has already raised more than £50,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to help fund cancer research, for example.
In this regard the Vikings are a club to be proud of and I’m sure they will continue with more projects in future for many charitable causes. They illustrate how Rugby League clubs can make a positive difference to many people’s lives.
Finally, I would advise the NRL’s Melbourne Storm to get in touch with Charlie. She could do an absolutely terrific job for them.
To donate to the ChaRLie Fund go to crowdfunding.justgiving.com/WVChaRLie.
I hope you’ll give generously to a wonderful and very talented young lady.