LUCKY Leeds Rhinos fan Jonathan Long broke new ground when he became the first supporter to set foot on the club’s redeveloped South Stand terrace.
Jonathan, 65, got the chance to go where no fan has gone before after winning a competition organised by the Rhinos to reward their loyal season membership holders.
His special visit to Emerald Headingley Stadium also marked 50 days until Leeds take on Catalans Dragons in the first game for which part of the rebuilt South Stand will be open to spectators.
He checked out the ongoing construction work with Richie Myler, who is expected to make his Emerald Headingley debut on March 2 against Catalans, the club he left to join the Rhinos. Jonathan, a South Stand regular, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s been a day to remember – but then there have been a lot of days to remember down here, particularly in the past 10 or 12 years.
“It’s good to see your club, my club, moving on. Things have to change, you have to go forward. Once it’s all completed this is really going to be a stadium for the 21st century.”
New Rhinos signing Myler said: “Everyone is waiting to see what the stand actually looks like in the end and what kind of spectacle it’s going to provide, for the players as well as the fans. For the Catalans game, it’s going to be nice to see how the builders have cracked on with it and how much they’ve done.”
Often described as the heartbeat of rugby league in Leeds, the old South Stand dated back to the early 1930s.
It had a capacity of 13,000 and at one stage could lay claim to being the largest structure of its type in the world. More recently, however, it started showing serious signs of wear and tear and demolition work began on the stand following a game between the Rhinos and St Helens in August last year. Its redevelopment by Caddick Construction forms part of a wider £40m revamp of Emerald Headingley designed to ensure the ground keeps its status as one of the world’s best-loved sporting venues.
* Rhinos fans can still purchase standing season memberships for 2018 in the Carnegie Terrace or West Terrace, priced £216 for adults and £144 for concessions.