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Pitchside pledge to honour ashes of Leeds Rhinos fans

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For years the ashes of dedicated Leeds Rhinos fans were scattered on the pitch as the ultimate tribute to their loyalty.

Now soil from the ground, which is being returfed, will be used to form part of a city park on the Tetley’s brewery site.

And a special service will be held at Headingley Carnegie to remember those who found their final resting place at the ground.

The practice of committed Rhinos supporters having their ashes scattered or buried at the stadium went on for over a century until a memorial garden was set up nine years ago.

The club, also home to Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Leeds Carnegie rugby union team, is in the middle of a £1 million project to reconstruct the pitch which was the oldest in top flight professional sport in the country.

The old pitch is being recycled and will form part of a substantial area of green space on the Tetley’s brewery site in Leeds City Centre.

Leeds Rhinos chief executive, Gary Hetherington, said: “Unfortunately it was an impossible task to contact all the families of those who have had the ashes of their loved ones scattered on the pitch over the years before we began the work because records were simply not kept.”

But a sample of earth from the old pitch has been taken and in a symbolic gesture, club chaplain the Rev Steve Mitchell will add the soil to the new ground and consecrate the new playing surface.

The service will take place on Saturday, December 15 at 1pm and is open to all supporters and members of the public to attend.

Fans will be able to stand on the Carnegie Stand Terrace while Rev Mitchell conducts the service on the pitch 
along with music provided by a band.

Mr Hetherington said: “Traditionally Christmas is often the time when families come to the stadium and lay flowers to remember a loved one and we hope this service can become an annual event to allow supporters to come together on such an occasion.

“We were conscious that the earth that was removed from the stadium was used appropriately and we are delighted that it will form part of a park for the residents of Leeds with so many memories attached to it.” The ground is part of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

 

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