Aussie rugby coach finds his Leeds roots

There's a lot more to Leeds than meets the eye for Australian rugby league coach Tim Sheens.

For while the 59-year-old is in town to fire his team up for the Gillette Four Nations tournament, off the pitch he is busy retracing his roots right here in Leeds.

The former player – who has broken the record for coaching the most top-level games in Australian rugby league history – has discovered that two of his ancestors ran some of our finest pubs.

Over the last four months a Sydney-based genealogist has been retracing Tim's family tree and the search has uncovered relatives who lived in Leeds in the late 1800s. Tim was thrilled to find family links to the Original Oak in Headingley – a firm favourite with cricket and rugby fans.

He said: "It started with a guy who is a professional genealogist in Sydney who supports the club I coach. He found that one of my great-great-great-great uncles Henry Mann ran the (then called) Oak Inn.

"We found the pub and found that it was one of the most successful pubs in England because of its connection to cricket, rugby, football and the university."

That was in 1891; ten years earlier the same uncle had run the Albion Street Hotel at 142 Briggate at the age of 53.

Tim is now appealing to readers to help piece together the history of these relatives and the hotel and pub.

For he has no photos of Uncle Henry Mann and only vague details of his niece Emily Mann who emigrated to Australia in 1887 at the age of 17.

Emily's father Robert Mann is also believed to have run hotels around Leeds in the late 1800s and Tim may even have links to a "Mann" who played professional rugby for Bradford and England in 1908.

"This all started off about four months ago as a sort of favour and now it's grown into something that's intriguing," said Tim who has come to Leeds armed with a file which includes a family tree.

The tree is peppered with ancestors from France as well as convicts who were sent to Australia in the 1800s and others who emigrated out of free will.

Since staying in Leeds he has also picked up a document featuring the history of the Original Oak pub put together by local historian Eve Bradford in 2007 – who Tim is also keen to trace.

And when the Aussies head to France to play Paris on Saturday, Tim will try to tap into his French family roots.

There will be one more pitstop for the coach when the team come back to Leeds for the final at Elland Road before heading back to the other side of the world.

"I'd really like to go back into the Oak next week just to say hello to them. It's nice to think that my relatives once ran it!"

Triathlete Beginners for at Bramley Baths, Leeds..Owen Scurrah-Smyth is pictured during the session..11th January 2017 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Bramley Baths to stage their AGM in the baths... that is, in the water