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26th Jun, 2022

RUGBY LEAGUE - The first steps of Rugby League in Redditch

By Mike Hyde (Midlands Hurricanes)

I am from Doncaster, and my parents’ house was in the then pleasant suburb of Belle Vue and as the sun rose was in the shadow of Doncaster Rovers’ floodlights, I was brought up watching football, which I still do from time to time.

Then, one Sunday, me and a mate ventured over the railway bridge into Bentley, a different world where stood Tattersfield, the ramshackle and boggy home of the Dons, Doncaster RLFC, and my life changed forever. My mate never went again.

So when I was made redundant in 1984 and moved to Redditch, I feared I had left Rugby League behind me, which upset me especially as I had thought the job was in Reddish, just outside Manchester.

But then a year later I saw a little article about a guy called Dave Pickett, who was hoping to start a Rugby League team. I could not believe this!

I phoned Dave and offered my services as a spectator, something I was good at, but first there was a meeting in a pub.

Four of us turned up that night and someone else was also interested, so not thirteen initially, not even enough for seven-a-side, but we were taking our first steps. In Redditch (not Reddish). And I was going to play not spectate, it was agreed after the fourth round of beers.

Next job was training, Tuesday night, 7pm prompt. I have to say I looked very smart in my pristine Blue and Gold Dons shirt, Barney wore Salford colours, Brian wore his St Helens shirt and the others were equally well dressed.

It was clear we were all Northerners in exile. We would have looked good for a photoshoot, but sadly that was before mobile phones and every detail of life being an Instagram moment.

We left the dressing room and fanned out under the floodlights at Redditch FC’s ground. We felt magnificent, pioneers bringing the very best of Northern culture to the Midlands, then I looked across to Barney. Kev shouted over to Brian. We stopped running. We had all realised something. We didn’t have a rugby ball.

But hey, we had ourselves a rugby league club.

The greatest game Redditch Halcyon ever played was against a famous Northern side, Spotland Rangers, and everyone thought they would score a hundred against us when they came to visit.

It was 0-64 at half time so things were not looking good.

Slowly the score continued to build in front of a crowd of over 200 spectators, itself a record in Redditch.

0-80, 0-86, 0-92, a hundred was surely on the cards, and then it was 0-98, and the whistle blew.

We were ecstatic, surely the greatest achievement ever by a team from Redditch?

To the disbelief of our opponents, we did a lap of honour.

And then the referee had a word with a couple of us: “I hope you don’t mind lads, but I finished the game ten minutes early to save your embarrassment.

“Three figure scores aren’t good for anyone.”

Midlands Hurricanes host Doncaster in their first home game of the season on Sunday, April 3 with kick-off at 3pm at Portway.

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