It’s not long now until the next rounds of franchises are set out for Super League. All the usual suspects will be applying, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax, Leigh and a host of others (hopefully), but if we’re to REALLY broaden the game, how about a Cumbrian club?
It’s always been a hotbed of the game and as much as I’m against clubs merging for the sake of merging, why not have a sole Cumbria club that uses the local talent and the resources of the established clubs, like Barrow and Workington to apply? Surely, if we can’t get our own areas of interest involved in the game at its elite level, we’ll struggle in places like Toulouse, The Midlands and the South West of the country? At its heart, we are a grass roots sport. OK, the fan base in the area may not be as big as a metropolis such as Leeds, but surely, a healthy, successful club in Cumbria will breed further rewards for the area in terms of producing more players like Rob Purdham who will go on to international honours in the future?
Rugby League NEEDS a strong Cumbrian club, be it One of the two I’ve mentioned, or a “Super Club” using them as a feeder to keep the grass roots healthy and the sport stocked with more and more talent.
OK, fans of other clubs will moan about travelling to away games, but let’s face it; we’re now a summer game, and who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of days in the area before or after a match? After all, it’s beautiful…
I know that even the mere mention of the dreaded M word will have people all over quoting history, heritage and Hull, to name but a couple of things, but if we are a modern game, then let’s make sure we look at the problems of the game in a modern way and although we keep our heritage alive (I hope Stevo finds a home for his stuff. It was a great way to spend time in Huddersfield and I hope the RFL will help him find that special somewhere), it shouldn’t stop us from looking ever forward.
Looking forward to later this year, I will once again be heading to Warrington for the Tom Sephton Memorial trophy (http://www.facebook.com/sephtonmemorialtrophy). Despite last year’s deluge of almost biblical proportions; it was a great day of family entertainment, good causes and rugby league. This year’s event is on the 29th June, to coincide with Armed Forces day and all money raised this year is going to the Royal British Legion and as per usual, there will be two outstanding matches being played.
For those who don’t know, Tom was an Infantry Soldier in The Mortar Platoon, The 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) – 1 MERCIAN who tragically died in July 2010 as a result of the wounds he received in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 12. Tom came from Penketh, Warrington and was an outstanding sportsman. For many years he played rugby league for Crosfields and was a key and influential part of the 2006 Crosfields ARLFC Under 16’s squad that swept all before them, winning the Under 16’s North-West Counties League Championship and reaching the National Cup Semi-Final.
From this squad an impressive number of Tom’s team mates have gone on to achieve great things in their young rugby careers, playing professionally with Super League clubs, Widnes Vikings, Warrington Wolves, St Helens and Salford City Reds.
First up is the Army grudge match between rival regiments 1st Battalion the Mercian Regiment (CHESHIRE) – 1 MERCIAN versus 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancasters Regiment – 1 LANCS, followed by a Crossfields ARLFC XIII Versus The Royal Engineers. Last year’s day was a roaring success and I for one will be making it a regular day out in my calendar.
For more info and to place an advert in the programme, check the link above for more details. Last year over £4000 was raised for SSAFA, I hope that this year, given better weather, they can beat that total by some way.