SEEING Castleford Tigers legends Andy Lynch and Danny Orr mucking in to spruce up their old amateur club Kippax Welfare recently, but with help from the Academy lads of fierce rivals Leeds Rhinos, served as another reminder of the hard graft and goodwill that goes on at grassroots level.
Indeed, the sight of volunteers arming themselves with paint brushes and the like has become commonplace at local grounds up and down the country as the RFL’s ‘Give Back to Your Club’ initiative gets into full swing.
For those who have not come across it yet, the idea of it all is to help create better and safer facilities for people to play the sport at community clubs.
The governing body offers funding to help get behind it and clubs can win prizes of up to £3,000 to support their activity.
That could be a day, or a weekend, and include simple tidying and cleaning or repairing, painting and even bigger renovations to club facilities.
Lynch, the 36-year-old Castleford prop currently recovering from a broken leg, has been coaching sides at Kippax since being a teenager in his first spell with the Tigers longer ago than he cares to remember.
He, like Orr, the former Great Britain stand-off who made his name with Castleford and is now assistant coach at Wheldon Road, came through the junior ranks at Kippax.
He helped drive the effort to give the club – that nestles on the east side of Leeds but is actually nearer Castleford – the makeover and, in the end, saw more than 50 volunteers arrive to lend a hand.
Three different sports sections at the club – football, cricket and rugby – came together with families, young and old, doing their bit, Lynch and Orr working in tandem with their kids for instance.
In a time where so many community clubs are struggling to make ends meet following the switch to summer rugby, such endeavours are crucial in keeping clubs attractive to the youth they are trying to bring to the game.
I played at Kippax briefly as a kid when I tried, unsuccessfully, juggling it with football and school rugby.
I remember a great spirit there back then – and, worryingly, we’re talking roughly 25 years ago now – and it is nice to know the same enthusiasm is still going strong now.
That said, I also remember being on the end of a real ‘Hairdryer’ treatment from the coach at the time, Paul Orr, Danny’s dad and a pretty decent Castleford prop in his time.
I’d dared to throw the ball through my legs to try and keep a move going in training. It worked perfectly.
Ended up with a fine try being scored.
But then Paul marauded over to let me know in no uncertain terms that that sort of cocky flamboyance was not part of his side’s DNA.
It’s fair to say, I never attempted it again, and, indeed, Kippax, as an attacking force, managed perfectly well without me throwing such hopeful efforts in the future.
Then again, I’m sure I saw the boss do it himself in one training session...
Anyway, I digress, the upshot of it all is there are plenty of clubs in need of a hand in any shape whatsoever so, if you get a chance, get down to your local club to take a look and muck in, too, if needed, even it’s only buying a matchday programme.