East Leeds Community Sports Club, Bethlehem Boxing Club and Saxton FC unite for new LS9 partnership

A new sporting partnership is taking shape in one of the city’s most deprived areas, uniting three clubs with a passion for helping young people.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 6:00 am

When Jonny Nixon first set up Saxton FC in Richmond Hill three years ago, he had the simple goal of giving children in the LS9 area the chance to get involved in football and make new friends.

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Saxon Football Club, East Leeds Community Sports Club and Bethlehem Boxing Club are coming together to create a sports hub for children in LS9. Picture: Steve Riding

But until now, Saxton FC has had no clubhouse or facilities beyond use of a playing field.

It was this that struck a chord with Pete Longbottom, who is involved in East Leeds Community Sports Club.

He recalled how the club was turfed out of its building 12 years ago and only managed to keep going thanks to determined volunteers who secured a bank loan to buy the Easy Road site that is also home to East Leeds ARLFC.

When former East Leeds and Leeds Rhinos player Danny McGuire told him about Jonny’s efforts and the lack of facilities, Pete knew he wanted to show some support.

“It really hit a bit of a raw nerve,” he said. “We thought, ‘Hold on, we were in the same place 12 years ago’.”

Along with Lee Murtagh from Bethlehem Boxing Club, Jonny and Pete have begun to look at how they can all work together to share resources and promote sporting opportunities for youngsters.

Pete said: “There’s a great support in Leeds 9 for sport. One of thing we started to think was we could encourage sport across everywhere – rugby, football and boxing.”

Jonny said: “Every group that has got involved has done their bit for kids over a number of years. We got our heads together and thought, why not provide kids with three or four different sports?

“We’re going to keep our own individuality but grow from the East Leeds club.

“I’ve never had a base to call home and that’s what East Leeds are providing everyone with. Lee has got his own premises but we want to come together to promote it all.

“What a fantastic gesture from East Leeds to allow us to be part of their history. We’re really humbled to become part of that and just be growing sport for kids in the area.”

While still in its early days, the partnership is already making a difference locally.

When East Leeds set out to distribute 120 Easter eggs, they teamed up with Jonny to get 40 eggs to Saxton FC players.

Pete said: “The parents were absolutely blown away and the kids were too.”

Back in January, Saxton FC began its Kit for Kids appeal to help provide basic training gear and boots for young players at the club who did not have their own.

In another example of local sporting organisations supporting each other, Leeds City FC was among the first to lend a hand.

Jonny said he had been heartened by the response to date, adding: “Even in these hard times, a local business – Leeds Reclamation in Cross Green – just bought me a set of nets.

“I’ve got another one, Auto Prestige in Bradford, that’s got in touch from the article in the YEP and said they’ll get us training tops.”

Call Mally Waite on 07711 772509 to sign up for East Leeds ARLFC sessions and email [email protected] for details of how to support the Kit for Kids appeal.

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