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South Leeds: Morley Rugby Football Club where history lies at the bottom of a pint pot

Richard Binks, chairman of Morley RFC, at the clubs Scratcherd Lane ground. PIC: Simon Hulme

Richard Binks, chairman of Morley RFC, at the clubs Scratcherd Lane ground. PIC: Simon Hulme

  • by Sam Casey
 

Morley Rugby Club is proud to play with the town’s crest on its chest and the community at its heart.

THE history of Morley Rugby Football Club – and the sport itself – might have been very different had club representatives not stayed in the pub on August 29, 1895.

A group of officials was meant to travel to Huddersfield to join 22 other rugby union clubs for crunch talks about the future of the sport.

Instead, in what turned out to be a momentous drinking session in more ways than one, Morley’s contingent remained in the boozer and missed their train.

Twenty of the clubs who did make it to the George Hotel subsequently agreed to resign from the Rugby Football Union and form a breakaway competition, laying the foundations for what would become the new code of rugby league.

Deprived of a say in the proceedings by its well-oiled officials, Morley remained a rugby union side.

Club chairman Richard Binks said: “It’s pretty typical that they missed it because they were in the pub, but we wouldn’t change anything.

“There are lots of people up and down the country who will have heard of Morley for no other reason than the rugby club.”

Formed in 1878, Morley RFC has been an integral part of life in the town virtually since its inception – so much so that Morley Borough Council granted it special permission to use the municipal coat of arms on its badge in 1932.

Mr Binks said: “Thousands upon thousands of Morley children have enjoyed playing for our junior section and many have gone on to play at professional level.

“It has been the principle sporting institution in the town, both in terms of membership and achievement, locally and nationally, for a long time.”

The high point in playing terms came in the early 1990s, when the club climbed to the national second division – the second tier of the rugby union pyramid.

Among the successful graduates was Scott Benton, who won his only England cap in 1998 on the infamous ‘tour of hell’ in Australia and South Africa.

Mr Binks played at every level from under-14s through to the senior first team and then the veterans before becoming a club official.

“There’s a small group of us die-hards that they say, if you cut us, bleed maroon,” he said, in reference to the club colours.

The club currently has about 800 members and remains at heart a community club, funded by members and local businesses, including its main sponsor Ravenheat boilers.

Mr Binks said: “Even if people don’t have a rugby bone in their body, the chances are that at some point, if they live in Morley, they’ll have been to the club.”

 

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