Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Leeds and District Rugby League Honours 1968/69

This is the final article about the Leeds and District Rugby League in 1968/69. The honours lists below indicate the geographical area covered by the League in the 1960s. Two interesting names feature in the list of players awarded County Badges. Graham Idle, who played for New Markets as a junior, had long career in the professional game. He began his career with Bramley and also played for Wakefield Trinity and Bradford Northern. Les Dyl, who signed for Leeds Rugby League Club, was a 'one club man' who during his sixteen year professional career also made twenty five international appearances and toured Australia three times with Great Britain.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Leeds Saturday League 1968/69

The Leeds Saturday League in the 1960s contained a number of clubs that were well established and are still in existence today. The League covered a wide geographical area with clubs from York, Keighley, Castleford, Dewsbury and Featherstone taking part in a Leeds League that had only eight Leeds clubs in membership. In the 1960s there were no amateur regional leagues and so clubs from West Yorkshire that wished to play Saturday rugby had to join the Leeds League.
Which clubs are still in existence today?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Leeds Sunday League 1968/69

How things change in amateur rugby league.
Only one of the clubs in membership of the Leeds Sunday League in the 1968/69 season is still in existence.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Rugby Union Characters - Charles Waller

Charles Waller, who joined Leeds Chirons in 1967, never played a game for the club, as when he first became involved he was past the state retirement age. His role was to look after the dressing rooms, run the bath, make the after match cups of tea and clean up after everyone had gone. Mr Waller was encouraged to take on the role of dressing room attendant by his daughter, who wanted him to have a 'hobby' that got him out of the house. The reality was that the hobby practically became a full-time job. Never addressed as Charles, Mr Waller took the role on from John Mason the former caretaker and groundsman at Roundhay School. John Mason had looked after the dressing rooms for a number of years until he retired in 1965. There was a gap of a year or so between John Mason retiring and Mr Waller starting as dressing room attendant. During this period players and club officials took on the role with very mixed results. Often the dressing room boiler would not be lit in time and so the water in the bath would be cold. The tea would not be ready after the game and the dressing rooms would often not be cleaned from one week to the next. When Mr Waller, who lived in a cottage in the school grounds, took on the role, apart from a few early teething troubles, things ran very smoothly. The early teething troubles were mainly to do with the temperature of the bath water. It took a while for Mr Waller to get used to the eccentricities of the coke boiler. After one week, when he had complaints about the water being cold, Mr Waller put the boiler on very early and so the bath water was scalding when the first Chirons player jumped in. He soon jumped out again, uttering expletives! After a few weeks Mr Waller got to grips with the ancient boiler and things began to run smoothly.

Mr Waller spent many hours in the dressing rooms every week, tidying and cleaning, and remained with Chirons until the club went out of existence. His role on match day increased over the years as he became responsible for preparing the after match food, which was usually pie and beans. His after match food became legendary, as did his tea. People would often wonder whether the fact that the tea was so strong was because he started brewing it on the Thursday before a game. I believe Mr Waller never watched the games, but he was always interested in the results. In the 1st World War Mr Waller was a horse handler and if asked he would, on occasions, talk about his experiences. Many former Chirons players and officials have very fond memories of Mr Waller. Over the years he became something of an 'institution', and opposition players often went out of their way to chat to him before and after the game. I am sure many clubs had people like Mr Waller, but the difference probably being that they were former players. To my knowledge Mr Waller, who was quite a small man, had never played rugby, he just enjoyed his 'hobby' and the people he got to know through the rugby club.

There are more stories about rugby union characters in Leeds Who? Available from ypdbooks.com

Friday, 6 January 2012

Joining a rugby club

I wonder if joining a rugby club is as easy, these days, as it was in the 1960s.

I was encouraged to join Leeds Chirons by Cliff Bent, a teacher from my school who was the 'A' team hooker. The 'A' team at that time was mainly made up of men coming to the end of their playing careers. Results for the 'A' team were very poor and I imagine that by recruiting a number of young players from his school, Cliff was attempting to lower the age profile of the team and provide Chirons with some potential first teamers. I particularly remember three other boys from Matthew Murray School who joined Chirons, Chris Wingfield, Andrew Newton and Barry Stones. Chris Wingfield joined Chirons at the same time as I did, but didn't stay very long. Andy was the first of us to break into the first team and he looked to have a very promising future as a rugby player. He was selected for a Yorkshire Colts trial and established himself as a first team regular. However, Andy got the 'travel bug' and so, as a teenager, he set off to see the world. Although he returned to Chirons in later life he never really made the impact on the Yorkshire rugby scene that he might have done in different circumstances. Barry Stones was a tough wing forward who became a first team regular and stayed with the club for a number of seasons. For my part I made my first team debut at the end of my first season with Chirons and stayed with the club until 1969. I returned in 1979 and played a few games in the 1979/80 season. In all I played over 150 games for Chirons and scored 30 tries.