A NEW rugby league team is up and running in Ashington.
The sport, which has been growing steadily, will break new ground with the formation of Miners RL, who will play in the North East Regional League.
The most northerly based rugby league team in England, they will pay homage to the region’s rich mining heritage on their shirts.
Miners RL chairman Trevor Murdie said: “The Miners Rugby League club was formed to bring rugby league to the communities of south east Northumberland.
“The title represents the communities in this area which were heavily dependent on coal mining.
“Ashington in its present form only exists because of the community which developed around the coal mine.
“We would like to bring a sport that has not been tried, as far as I am aware, and let us not forget the roots of rugby league and the formation of the Northern Union in 1895 when the working classes requested broken time payments to enable them to play the game.
“I have often wondered why the game was not properly embraced in the north east.
“We have worked continuously to bring the club to fruition and have only in the past few days received grants from Arriva PLC and The Coalfields Regeneration Trust which will be enough to purchase equipment to get us started.
“We will also use the money to train and qualify coaches so that we can tap into the local junior playing resource both in Ashington and Blyth.
“Our shirt is based on the colours of Featherstone Rovers, not by any allegiance but on the basis that Featherstone was a mining community like us and also suffered because of the closure of the mines.
“In homage to the mines nationalised by National Coal Board in 1947 the shirt bears the name of each of the 70 Northumberland Collieries that were part of that programme.
“Sadly there is not one of the deep mines surviving.
“We will also pay our respect to each miner who lost his life in the coalfields and especially to the miners who gave their lives in the New Hartley Pit disaster 150 years ago this year.
“Those who lost their lives in the disaster of 1862 left a legacy for which all who work below ground will be forever grateful.”
Miners RL have ambitious plans for the future and are ultimately aiming to run junior teams from under-8s all the way up to open age and also gain Clubmark recognition.
The club are looking for new players, coaches and volunteers and will start training on Wednesday, March 28, at 7pm, at the Annexe (Ashington High School). For more information visit www.minersrl.co.uk