CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT 2012
I write this report following our third successful, “Fylde Fiesta” the concept BARLA now use which incorporates the open age and three age group national cup finals. And I can say that despite the dismal weather on the second day, a good time was had by all who attended.
We were treated to 5 great games in the finals but strangely all the games seemed to have a lopsided score line, this however did not detract from the effort and passion that each player put in to their performance.
Queens made it a second national cup title in three years following a dominant performance that put last year’s winners Sharlston Rovers to the sword. And speaking of which, the decision to once again bring the Tom Keaveney Award to the finals – The magnificent Wilkinson Sword – proved a winner, as no fewer than 4 former winners of this prestigious title were present at this year’s finals and along with this year’s recipient James Brown (Queens) all posed for photographs with this unique trophy.
Thatto Heath Crusaders were worthy winners of the under 18’s title as were Wigan St Patricks (under 16’s) and Blackbrook Royals who secured the under 14’s title. All the games were highly entertaining and full credit goes to Rylands Sharks (18’s) Bold Miners (16’s) and Skirlaugh Bulls (14’s) who all played their part in their respective finals.
Also on show was the WARLA State of Origin Challenge Game with Lancashire Ladies getting the verdict over Yorkshire Ladies and as with all the other games on the weekend both the teams contributed in effort, passion and commitment in a game that showcased the talent within the female ranks.
Sadly though this season the open age competition has been almost devoid of NCL entrants; which although taking nothing away from any of the 30 teams who did enter the competition, the omission of 40 or so entries did detract somewhat. Full marks must go to the 4 NCL clubs who did make the stand against the “unwritten wishes” of the NCL/RFL by putting their name in the hat.
I consider the NCL’s action as a deliberate move to wipe this famous old competition from the face of amateur game, this is made more disappointing and perhaps brings home concerns around the whole issue, as BARLA handed the RFL their proposals to develop the BARLA National Cup into a truly national competition over 2 years ago. These proposals seem to have been totally ignored or simply used as a blueprint for an RFL cup competition to replace the BARLA National Cup.
The past 12 months has seen the culmination of the RFL’s massive drive towards summer resulting in wholesale changes to the time that amateur rugby is played. Sadly the change has not come without concern and confusion. While although BARLA has thrown its support behind clubs whatever time of the year they choose to play, the question has to be asked as to whether the move benefits the whole of the game and is not just a strategy designed to prop up the already failing professional game at the expense of the amateur volunteers. Only time will tell of the result, but just how much collateral damage to the amateur game – a phrase widely used by the RFL on this issue - will be caused in that time.
It has become increasingly difficult for BARLA to maintain a working relationship with the RFL and twelve months ago, I commented that the RFL’s actions would cause fragmentation within our ranks. I stand by that comment and although the RFL have a knack of hiding its actions behind other bodies, I’m now convinced that the RFL will not be satisfied until “everything BARLA” has been removed from the game.
My congratulations go to Cumbria County and the Lancashire County under 19’s on winning their respective competitions in the BARLA County Tri – series. Lancashire were also the winners of the under 17’s competition just pipping Cumbria in a thriller at Thatto Heath in the final game; a just reward for a revamped, hard working, Lancashire County committee.
The BARLA County Cups this year were claimed by; Kells winning the Cumbria County competition, Bank Quay Bulls who lifted the Lancashire Cup while Hunslet Old Boys are the new Yorkshire Champions.
At the time of writing, no firm decision has been made for the BARLA Champions Cup as to whether we will continue with last year’s format by playing a curtain raiser to the new season with the final. This year the four clubs involved are; Queens (holders) Kells (Cumbria Champions) Bank Quay Bulls (Lancashire Champions) Hunslet Old Boys (Yorkshire Champions)
Once again, the revamped BARLA Annual awards and presentation dinner were an undoubtable success, when around 140 guests enjoyed a glittering evening at The Village Hotel Leeds and this year one more award, the Ladies player of the Year was added to the line up. My sincere congratulations go out to all the winners who were;
1. The Eric Hawley Award 2010/2011
Joe Burgess – Ince Rose Bridge ARLFC
2. BARLA International Youth Player of the Year 2010/2011
Mathew Meaden – Ince Rose Bridge ARLFC
3. BARLA Youth coach of the year 2010/2011
Tim White – Saddleworth Rangers ARLFC
4. BARLA Open age coach of the year 2010/2011
Chris Gorey – Hollinwood ARLFC
5. BARLA International player of the year under 21’s 2010/2011
Patrick Foulstone – Shaw Cross Sharks ARLFC
6. BARLA International player of the year under 23’s 2010/2011
Jon Paul Brocklebank – Egremont Rangers ARLFC
7. BARLA International open age player of the year 2010/2011
Carl Booth - Myton Warriors ARLFC
8. BARLA International Veteran player of the year 2010/2011
Johan Windley – West Hull ARLFC
9. BARLA Best media (Website/Programme)Club 2010/2011
James Riley – Wibsey Warriors ARLFC
10. BARLA Best media (Website/Programme)League 2010/2011
Mathew Barraclough & Jamie Hobbs – Pennine ARL
11. BARLA Women’s player of the year 2010/2011
Lauren Stallwood – Bradford Thunderbirds ARLFC
12. BARLA Veteran Player of the Year 2010/2011
Alan Dalton – Hollinwood ARLFC
13. BARLA man of Steel 2010/2011
Gareth Davies – Sharlston Rovers ARLFC
14. BARLA Unsung Hero Award 2010/2011
Jimmy Leach – Oldham St Annes ARLFC
15. BARLA Team of the Year 2010/2011
Sharlston Rovers ARLFC
16. BARLA Club of the Year 2010/2011
Rochdale Cobras ARLFC
17. Silver Boot award 2010/2011
Joe Fitzsimmons – Wigan St Judes ARLFC
18. Tom Keaveney award (Secretary of the Year) 2010/2011
Ron Girvin – North West Counties ARL
This year’s awards will follow the same format and the event which is already gathering momentum, will be held at the Cedar Court, Bradford on Saturday 28th July.
On the International front, we can notch a groundbreaking trip to Jamaica on our achievements, on which a 30 man tour played two games and more importantly offered coaching in schools to a very receptive audience.
Our Emerging Great Britain Lions (under 17’s) will be departing shortly for a mini tour to the Czech Republic taking in 2 games and an International 9’s competition. This will be an invaluable experience for our young players in a country where rugby league is taking a strong foothold. BARLA continues its development work throughout the whole World.
And in the autumn of this year BARLA, will be holding a double International in South Manchester on afternoon of Super League Grand Final Day (Saturday 6th October) The Emerging BARLA Great Britain Lions (under 17’s) will be playing the Central Coast Centurions, a highly rated Australian Junior side and the BARLA Great Britain Lions will take on the South Sydney Juniors Ambassadors. This event be the last games of a series which will see all the three county teams play a game against both these sides in the fortnight leading up to this date.
Looking further ahead into 2013, the year in which celebrates BARLA’s 40th anniversary. To mark 4 decades of development, initiatives such as the BARLA Foundation - which will impact directly on the development of the very grassroots of our game - will be implemented.
I will conclude by offering my unreserved thanks to the players, coaches, clubs and the vast army of volunteers, the ordinary people, whose extraordinary, selfless, efforts both on and off the field, have made for another excellent year in our great game.
We must also report the sad demise of Harold Swift MBE and John Pattinson Vice chairman both are a sad loss to BARLA.
A. S. Allison