18th May 2020, 09:18 | therfl
Rugby League clubs at all levels continue to play their part in the national response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Barrow Raiders attracted national media coverage for the spectacular tribute to the key workers of the town and its surrounds which they have erected outside Craven Park.
Thursday’s Guardian featured a large photograph of the 12-metre banner, which is a collage of hundreds of A5 pictures of key workers that have been sent to the club in recent weeks - one of the photographs taken by the Guardian’s Chris Thomond is shown above.
Steve Neale, the Raiders chairman, explained: “We’ve had a fantastic response to the idea, which isn’t surprising when you think of the sacrifices being made by the key workers in Barrow and all around the country.
“The timing was perfect for us as we’d only regained ownership of the advertising boards along the Hindpool Road perimeter of the ground at the beginning of April after a 21-year lease period.
“We’ve put the photos and drawings on banners so we can continue to display them inside the ground as a lasting memory when the current crisis has passed.”
Barrow had already released pink and blue training shirts paying tribute to the NHS. The town has had one of the highest rates of infection in the country, making this an especially difficult time.
Another of the historic clubs in Betfred League 1, Hunslet, have backed one of their players, Tom Ashton, as he has donated and delivered Personal Protection Equipment to the Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice.
Ashton’s employers, Express Electrical, were keen to donate to the community – and chose the Hospice because of an existing relationship with Hunslet.
“Hunslet has developed a place in my heart and the club has a great connection with the hospice,” he explained.
The Parksiders’ energetic response to the current situation has also included a mixed response to a fund-raising offer from the former club favourite Steve Pryce. Pryce, a member of the Hunslet Hall of Fame, is keen to display his vocal skills in a virtual concert – but former team-mates Richard Baker, David Brook and Mick Coyle are equally keen to stop him. Further details here.
Community clubs have also been rising to the challenge – none more so than the Portico Vine Panthers junior club of St Helens.
For several weeks now, the Panthers youngsters have been led by the volunteers who run the club to urge the public to donate cans of soup on their departure from local supermarkets, to boost the stocks of the food banks that have been so important during the lockdown.
Despite problems when supermarkets were raided in those early weeks, the Panthers have collected an incredible tally of more than 4,500 cans, which have been distributed around the St Helens and Warrington area.
David Hobin, one of the volunteers, said: “We’ve had some amazing support from Tesco and the soup manufacturers – and we should also thank the Saints Community Foundation, because without their van to help with the distribution, we’d really have been struggling.
“We pride ourselves on the positive impact we can make in the community, and it’s a great thing to be involved with for all the youngsters involved with the club.”