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Future up in air for struggling Heworth ARLC
11:07am Thursday 6th September 2012 in Rugby League
THE future of Heworth ARLC – one of York’s most noted amateur sports clubs – is in doubt.
The 90-year-old club, founder members and inaugural winners of the National Conference League in 1986, have hit the doldrums, having not won a game since November 2010. It got worse on Saturday as they failed to get a team out for the first time, their match at Widnes West Bank having to be rearranged for October 20.
That cancellation – plus talk of a £500 fine imposed by the league – prompted the Elmpark Way outfit to hold an emergency meeting, and, while players pledged to complete this season’s last six fixtures, starting with Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table encounter at home to Eastmoor, what the club does thereafter remains up in the air.
“We had a meeting to get commitment to, if nothing else, fulfil our fixtures this season, and there was a decent response,” said spokesman Ken Sykes.
“Where we go after this season – that’s the next thing to be considered.
“We’ve been struggling for the last two or three years, as everybody knows, and we’re questioning ourselves as to whether we’re strong enough to compete at that level. No firm decisions have been made on that score. The number one priority is to fulfil this year’s fixtures.”
The Villagers have not been the only club to miss a fixture in what has been an inaugural summer season beset with issues – Featherstone Lions were likewise unable to get a team out on Saturday to visit East Leeds after reportedly seeing 12 players go back to winter rugby league.
Sykes stressed there was no talk of Heworth folding. There appear to be three options – to continue in the NCL, which is amateur rugby league’s flagship competition, to drop to the Yorkshire Men’s League, in which their ‘A’ team play, or to return to winter rugby in the Pennine League.
The first option might be taken out of the Villagers’ hands, however, as clubs in the bottom two of the NCL’s division two must seek re-election.
Sykes said: “The lads themselves are adamant they want to stay in the NCL. I was a player when this league started, and we won it that year. We’ve been a strong member from its inception – it’s not something we want to lose. But we have to be realistic. We can’t make a decision now, though.”
As for Saturday’s problems, Sykes added: “We’ve been able to fulfil all our previous fixtures this season – and for the last 26 seasons since the start of the National Conference League.
“On Saturday we were hit by all sorts of problems. On top of injuries we had a lot of people on holiday or unavailable because of work. On Friday we had 12 players and three were from last year’s under-17s.
“We felt it wasn’t fair to sling them in like that and travel as bare as that.
“It’s a very disappointing situation and it may have repercussions.”
Sykes said the club had not had notification of a £500 fine but face a meeting with NCL chiefs next Wednesday.
As for this Saturday’s game, one on paper they should target for a victory, Sykes said: “We’re not looking at that (winning). Our main focus is to give the best we can. An improvement and to be competitive is our aim.”