LEEDS-BORN RUGBY legend Jason Robinson has spoken of his pride at seeing the club where it all began make history this season.
The former dual-code superstar was among the crowd at Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium, Post Office Road, last Saturday when Hunslet Club Parkside beat West Hull to be crowned National Conference Premier Division champions.
Robinson, a rugby league great with Wigan and Great Britain who then went on to captain England and win a World Cup in union, started playing rugby at the south Leeds outfit four decades ago and is patron of the club.
He presented the squad with their playing jerseys in the build-up to the final before Parkside went on to complete a perfect season and a clean sweep of Conference divisional titles in successive years.
The club have become the dominant force in community rugby league since moving up from the winter Pennine League.
“It was a fantastic end to what has been a very good season,” Robinson said.
“They have been consistent in all they’ve done.
“To go on that run of games is a big thing, there’s not many teams will ever do that so fair play to them.
“They deserve it.”
Parkside’s only loss this year was to Workington Town, who finished fourth in Betfred League One, in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. They won all 22 league fixtures and beat second-placed West Hull in the play-offs as well as the final.
They had to work hard against the East Yorkshire team who hit back from 14-2 down to just two points adrift early in the second half and Robinson observed: “It was a close game.
“The games they’ve had against West Hull before have been close. They went out in front in the second half, West Hull pulled it back and there was a time when it probably could have gone either way.
“They dug deep and just edged it in the last 15 minutes. They’ll be delighted, it’s one thing finishing top and having that run, but if you don’t win the Grand Final you feel like you’ve missed out.
“I am just pleased for them that they’ve been able to do that and obviously the club and everybody’s proud of what they’ve done.
“They deserve a good pat on the back because they’ve been fantastic.”
Robinson keeps in close contact with Parkside.
“I got the opportunity to go down and present the shirts which was nice,” he added.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to make it [on Saturday], but I managed to get down.
“It is good to see the club going from strength to strength.
“We go back nearly 39 years, a long, long time.
“It is a great club. Dennis [Robbins, chief executive] and all the guys there were there back when I started.
“It is great, quite often you see clubs like that just going downhill, but the club has just gone from strength to strength.
“I think they’ve got 2,000 members, all different sports and it is a real hub for everybody in the area.
“This [the Grand Final win] is the icing on the cake.
“The boys deserve to enjoy it and well done to them.”