London Broncos

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London Broncos
London Broncos logo.svg
File:London Broncos Logo
Club information
Full name London Broncos Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) London, The Broncos
Website www.londonbroncosrl.com
Colours Broncoscolours.png
Founded 1980; 34 years ago (1980) (as Fulham R.L.F.C)
Departed 2005
Readmitted 2012
details
Ground(s)
Coach(s) Joe Grima
Captain(s) Matt Cook
Competition Super League 2014
Records
Challenge Cups runners up (1999)
Super League runners up (1997)
Second Division 1 (1982-83)

London Broncos are a professional rugby league football club based in Edgware, London, England. The club has competed in the Super League competition since its introduction in 1996. Coached by Joe Grima and captained by Matt Cook, the Broncos play at The Hive. The Broncos train at Barnet's former stadium, Underhill from which they moved to from their Roehampton based training ground.

The club was originally formed as Fulham in 1980, entering the Rugby Football League Championship's second division for the 1980–81 Rugby Football League season. Over the years the club has changed names a number of times and has also been known as London Crusaders (1991–1994), London Broncos (1994–2005 and since 2012) and as Harlequins Rugby League (2006–2011). Whilst the club has never won a major trophy, they were finalists in the 1999 Challenge Cup Final and finished the 1997 Super League season in second place. The only trophy the club has won since its formation in 1980 is the Rugby Football League Championship Second Division in 1982-83.

History[edit]

Previous rugby league clubs in London[edit]

Professional rugby league was briefly represented in London in the 1930s by London Highfield (1933), Acton & Willesden (1935–36) and Streatham & Mitcham (1935–36, disbanded March 1937). All were speculative clubs set up by local businessmen purely as money making exercises, and were ultimately driven out of business through poor finances. Thereafter, the sport of rugby league in England remained exclusively a northern based game for over forty years until the formation of new club in London called Fulham.

Fulham Rugby League Club (1980–1991)[edit]

In June 1980, Fulham Football Club chairman Ernie Clay, decided to set up a rugby league team at Craven Cottage, with the primary intention of creating another income stream for the Association football club. Warrington director Harold Genders, who had helped to persuade Clay of the benefits of starting an RL club in the capital, organised the launch of the team. The Rugby Football League (RFL), keen to encourage the expansion of the sport beyond its traditional northern heartland, accepted the new club at once. One of the game's leading players, Reg Bowden, was recruited by Genders to act as player-coach and the club's first signing was Roy Lester on a free transfer from Warrington. Within nine weeks, Genders and Bowden had assembled a team of experienced players approaching retirement, together with a few promising youngsters.

Nearly 10,000 curious Londoners turned up for the opening game at Craven Cottage to see the newly formed side convincingly beat the highly regarded Wigan 24–5. The new Fulham RL team quickly proved to be very competitive and went on to win promotion at the end of their inaugural season. After their initial season, immediate relegation from the first division in 1981–82 was something of a reality check.

Fulham played two "home" games against Swinton and Huddersfield in Widnes, Cheshire in April 1983 as the pitch at the Cottage had disintegrated in the wet winter following the collapse of the main drain to the river Thames under the Miller Stand.

Despite winning the Division Two Championship in 1982–83, a second immediate relegation in 1983–84 coupled with continuing financial losses saw Clay, under pressure from the Fulham board, pull the plug at the end of their fourth season. However, with the backing of supporters Roy and Barbara Close and with a new coach, former player Roy Lester, Fulham RL still had a future. Most of the players had moved on as free agents and a new team began life at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The club moved to Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground in 1985. They also played several one-off games at soccer grounds around London such as Wealdstone, Hendon, Brentford and Chelsea's ground Stamford Bridge in 1983.

Bill Goodwin replaced Lester as coach between 1986 and 1987. In August 1986, Fulham hit a cash crisis and withdrew from RFL 11 days before the start of the season but re-launched in September. Bev Risman was asked to be coach at Fulham in 1987. The team was in the bottom half of the second division. The team struggled for success and Risman left after a couple of seasons and Bill Goodwin returned. Phil Sullivan was coach for just two months between January and February 1989, Goodwin came in for his third spell and held the reins until May 1989 when Ross Strudwick was appointed.

The club returned to Crystal Palace in 1990.

London Crusaders (1991–1994)[edit]

A 1991 name change to "London Crusaders" coincided with an entertaining and slightly more successful period on the pitch.

Ross Strudwick was replaced as coach by Darryl van der Velde in 1992 but continued as manager until 1993. The Crusaders moved from Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to Barnet Copthall arena in June 1993. In November 1993, London Crusaders imposed 20% pay cut to ease financial problems. The RFL briefly owned the Crusaders in 1993/94 as the Bartrams departed but Crusaders new owners were to be Britannic Shipping; Strudwick stepped down as manager to give the club's new owners a clean slate. [1]

The climax of the Crusaders era was a 1994 appearance in the Divisional Premiership Final under coach Tony Gordon. They lost 22–30 to Workington Town with Mark Johnson scoring a hat-trick and Logan Campbell also bagging a try.

London Broncos (1994–2005)[edit]

London Broncos Logo.jpg

In the spring of 1994 it was announced that the Australian NRL club the Brisbane Broncos, who had just won back-to-back premierships, was buying the London team, which would be renamed 'London Broncos'. Gordon was replaced by a Brisbane coach, Gary Grienke.[1] During a period of improving fortunes they made the 1994 Divisional Premiership Final at Old Trafford.

Despite not playing in the top flight, London Broncos were selected by the RFL to be part of the new Super League competition in 1996 on the basis that it was essential for the sport to have a high profile representative in the capital. In their first year in the top flight, the 1995–96 Rugby Football League season, the Broncos came second last. Former Brisbane Bronco Tony Currie took up the role of Head Coach.

The Broncos moved to southeast London to play at The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic, which is when David Hughes became involved with the club. But after one season they were on their way back to west London to play at the Stoop Memorial Ground.

The 1996 season brought the best London attendances since the inaugural season at Craven Cottage. Tony Rea retired from playing at the end of the season to take up the Chief Executive role at the club.

After two years they moved once again, to the Harlequin rugby union club's Stoop Memorial Ground. Richard Branson's Virgin Group became majority shareholders, and the immediate future looked very bright. In 1997, after a remarkably good season they finished second in Super League. Highlights that year included victories at the Stoop over Canberra in the World Club Challenge and Bradford and Wigan in Super League II.

In 1998, as part of rugby league's "on the road" scheme London Broncos played Bradford Bulls at Tynecastle in Edinburgh in front of over 7,000 fans. Success continued in 1998 with a first appearance in the Challenge Cup semi-finals, losing to Wigan. Head coach Tony Currie left the club at the end of the 1998 Super League season and was replaced by Dan Stains.

In 1999, the club went one better, having its best cup run to date. Following a famous semi-final victory over Castleford, the Broncos reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium for the first time, but were defeated 52–16 by Leeds. The club sacked Stains after the Broncos endured a long losing streak during the Super League campaign. Tony Rea was appointed temporary joint head coach with Stains' assistant Les Kiss. Rea and Kiss managed to steer Broncos out of the slump.

The Virgin Group then became the majority shareholder and in 1999, they reached the Challenge Cup Final, losing to Leeds Rhinos in what proved to be the last rugby league game ever to be played at the old Wembley Stadium.

In 2000, John Monie was appointed head coach. Monie only stayed in the job until the last month of the 2000 Super League season with the club endured a mediocre season during his tenure. Rea took over caretaker coach until the end of the season and Broncos sailed to mid-table security. Rea resigned his Chief Executive role at the end of the 2000 season to become head coach on a full-time basis.

York made an approach to Virgin to buy the London Broncos in August 2001 and form a merged club under a new name, York Wasps Ltd, to play in Super League.[2]

In 2002, fervent supporter David Hughes purchased the majority shareholding from Virgin in a major restructuring of the club. the Broncos moved back across London to play at Griffin Park as tenants of Brentford FC. 2003 marked the club's first Super League play off appearance, losing in the first round to St. Helens 24–6 at Knowsley Road.

The 2005 season was marked by significant activity off the pitch as the club welcomed new chairman and majority shareholder Ian Lenagan who had bought up 65% of the shares. This was followed by the announcement of a partnership with Harlequins Rugby Union Club that saw the side return to Twickenham Stoop, this time renamed as Harlequins RL for the 2006 season.

Harlequins RL
Club information
Full name Harlequins Rugby League
Short name HQ
Colours      Black
     White
     Sky Blue
     Pink
     Brown
     Silver
Founded 2005
Departed 2011
Former details
Ground(s)
Competition Super League
Records
World Club Championships 0
Premierships 0
Runners-up 0
Minor premiership 0
Challenge Cups 0
Regal Trophy 0 (0)

Harlequins RL (2006–2011)[edit]

Ian Lenagan became the majority shareholder in the London Broncos in July 2005. The new franchise started 2006 with a goal of 5,500 average home ground attendance by mid 2007.[3]

On 8 July 2006, after a disappointing run of form for the team, the Harlequins Rugby League club announced a re-organisation of the coaching set-up. Rea was replaced as head coach by the Leeds Rhinos' assistant coach Brian McDermott and was appointed to a position on the club's board of directors.

The team completed its first season as Harlequins RL with 7th place in Super League XI. Although finishing strongly to avoid relegation, the run of four consecutive home defeats at the start of the season proved difficult to overcome.

Harlequins RL vs St. Helens in 2006, the first game under in their new guise

A key factor was that the Rugby Football League allowed Chairman Ian Lenagan to became owner of his home town club Wigan Warriors in 2007 but did not force him to sell his controlling share. His associates Chairman Keith Hogg, who lived in Scotland and CEO Paul Brown were put in place as a short-term measure but no financial investment was made. David Hughes as minority shareholder effectively had to pay the considerable playing costs himself.

Not surprisingly, with a limited playing budget there was a sharp decline in playing standards which correlated with the departures of the likes of Henry Paul, Mark McLinden and Scott Hill and recruitment of new acquisitions who were frequently unavailable; some failed to play a single game such as Henry Fa'afili and Sione Haumuina whilst others were injured the majority of the time such as Chad Robinson and Luke Williamson.

McDermott presided over four seasons of Harlequins RL decline from 2007 to 2010, with the club dropping to 9th in both 2007 and 2008 and then falling to 11th in 2009 before dropping to 13th in his last season, 2010. In 2010, with a couple of games to go the Catalans in last position played Harlequins whom were next to last in what was effectively a 'wooden spoon decider'. Quins RL were winning by a handful of points and in the 78th minute Will Sharp took the ball from a Catalans hand in his own in-goal area, thus just avoiding the ignominy of a bottom place finish.

Under new coach Powell, 2011 saw the club's best start to a season ever, with three wins from their first three matches placing them at the top of the ladder. Away wins at Leeds Rhinos and St Helens seemed to herald a new dawn, however, the club's run of success was ended with a club record 82–6 defeat to Warrington Wolves on 20 March 2011 and the team were within a try of losing by the all-time Super League record margin of −80 held by Salford City Reds. Powell has since won only one further match with one draw and thirteen losses as of the start of July 2011.

The Broncos return to Super League (2012–)[edit]

The club announced on 1 November 2011 that it would be reverting to London Broncos name from 2012.[4] In addition, the team unveiled a new logo as well as new colours of black, light blue and silver. On 4 February, London Broncos played their first competitive match against St Helens since reverting their name back. The game was won by St Helens 34–24 in front of a 4,924 crowd, which was higher than all of their attendances in the year before. In the match 7 players made their debuts for the club.

It was announced that for the 2012 season the Broncos would be having two games "on the road" away from the Twickenham Stoop. It was chosen that on 6 June the game vs Bradford would be played at Leyton Orient FC's Brisbane Road. London were narrowly beaten 22–29 in front of 2,844 fans. Additionally the game on 20th vs Hull would be played at Gillingham FC's Priestfield Stadium, as a show of thanks for the work Medway Dragons have done in growing rugby league in Kent. The game proved to be popular with nearly 4,000 (3,930) turning up to watch London narrowly beaten 12–14 by Hull FC.

Tony Rea was appointed as the club's head coach for a second time in August 2012 taking over from Rob Powell. In 2013, London Broncos used 4 venues for their home games with the majority being played at the Twickenham Stoop. On 8 June 2013, London once again played a home game at Priestfield Stadium, this time being heavily beaten 82–10 by Warrington Wolves in front of 3,041 fans. On 28 March, London had to play a home game at Molesey Road due to a waterlogged pitch at the Stoop. The next home game on 6 April, Harlequins didn't allow London to use the Stoop die to a Heineken Cup game, thus London being forced to play their home game v Bradford Bulls at Adams Park.

London Broncos had a successful Challenge Cup campaign in 2013, reaching the semi-finals for the first time since their Wembley appearance in 1999. In round 4, London beat part-timers Featherstone Rovers 24–12 and in round 5, defeated Bradford Bulls 25–16. In the quarter-finals, London Broncos beat part-timers Sheffield Eagles 29–10 to book a place in the semi-finals. On 27 July, London Broncos' dream of reaching the Final for the second time came emphatically to an end with a televised 0-70 defeat by Wigan Warriors, a record score in a Challenge Cup semi-final.

On 29 June 2013, London Broncos announced the loan signing of Australian Jamie Soward until the end of the season. Soward quickly became a fans favourite with a man of the match performance on his debut v Salford City Reds (scoring a try and kicking 5 goals) and received a standing ovation from the crowd despite being defeated 30–44. Soward put in impressive performances in his short venture in England and in 9 games scored 67 points (5 tries, 23 goals, 1 drop goal).

The club's financial struggles were made evident when, on 20 November 2013, the club announced that it would have to enter administration in 10 working days if an new owner was not found. On 3 December 2013, London Broncos announced, "The club will be instructing lawyers to file a further notice of intention to appoint administrators at court, which shall be effective for 10 business days".[5][6]

On 13 December 2013, London Broncos announced a move to The Hive Stadium in Edgware, the new home of Barnet FC.[7] After London lost 21 players from their 2013 squad, they had a huge task building up their squad again. The Broncos managed to obtain 12 players from 2013 and in the off season signed 16 players (5 on loan) including Tongan international fullback Nesiasi Mataitonga and former England international hooker Scott Moore. Tony Rea quit as coach following Broncos' 11-game winless start to the Super League season. Assistant coach Joe Grima became head coach, having been asked to take charge for the rest of the season and next.[2]

2014 squad[edit]

* As of 3 July 2014:

Squad No Nat. Player Position Contract Previous Team
1 Tonga Nesiasi Mataitonga Fullback 2014 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
2 England Kieran Dixon Winger, Centre 2014 London Broncos
3 Australia Jordan Atkins Centre, Winger 2013 Gold Coast Titans
4 England Thomas Minns Centre 2014 (loan) Leeds Rhinos
5 England James Duckworth Winger 2014 (loan) Leeds Rhinos
6 Australia Ben Farrar Stand Off, Full Back 2015 Western Suburbs Rosellas
7 Australia Josh Drinkwater Half Back 2014 St. George Illawarra Dragons
8 Tonga Atelea Vea Prop, Second row 2014 St. George Illawarra Dragons
9 England Scott Moore Hooker, Stand off 2014 North Queensland Cowboys
10 Albania Olsi Krasniqi Prop 2014 London Broncos
11 England Matt Cook (C) Second Row 2014 Hull Kingston Rovers
12 England Mike McMeeken Second Row, Centre 2014 London Broncos
13 England Alex Foster Loose Forward 2014 (loan) Leeds Rhinos
14 England Mike Bishay Hooker, Stand off 2014 London Broncos
15 England James Greenwood Prop 2014 (loan) Wigan Warriors
16 Australia Nick Slyney Second Row, Loose Forward 2016 Brisbane Broncos
17 England Will Lovell Second Row, Centre 2014 London Broncos
18 England George Griffin Second Row 2014 Hull Kingston Rovers
19 Albania Erjon Dollapi Prop 2014 London Broncos
20 England James Cunningham Hooker, Stand off 2014 (loan) Hull FC
21 England Joel Wicks Centre, Hooker 2016 London Broncos
22 England James Woodburn-Hall Stand off 2016 London Broncos
23 Australia Denny Solomona Centre, Winger, Fullback 2014 Melbourne Storm
24
25 England Iliess Macani Fullback, Winger, Centre 2016 London Broncos
26
27 Republic of Ireland Jamie O'Callaghan Centre, Winger, Fullback 2014 London Broncos
28
29 England Harvey Burnett Centre 2015 London Broncos
30 England Jon Wallace Prop, Second row 2016 London Broncos
31 France Maxime Herold Prop 2014 Limoux Grizzlies
32 England Toby Everett Prop 2017 London Broncos
33 England Joe Keyes Half back 2017 London Broncos

2015 transfers[edit]

Gains

Gains
Player Previous club Years signed Date
France Maxime Herold Limoux Grizzlies 6 months May 2014
New Zealand Liam Foran Parramatta Eels 2 Years June 2014
Italy Ray Nasso SO Avignon 2 Years July 2014

Losses

Losses
Player Signed for Contract Date
France Tony Gigot France Released March 2014
England Mason Caton-Brown Salford Red Devils 2 ½ Years June 2014
Tonga Atelea Vea St Helens 2 Years July 2014
England James Duckworth Leeds Rhinos Loan Return
England Alex Foster Leeds Rhinos Loan Return
England Thomas Minns Leeds Rhinos Loan Return
England James Cunningham Hull FC Loan Return
England James Greenwood Wigan Warriors Loan Return
England Carl Forster St Helens Loan Return

Head coaches[edit]

Home grounds[edit]

  • Craven Cottage, Fulham (1980-1984)
  • Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (1984-1985)
  • Polytechnic Sports Ground, Chiswick (1985-1990)
  • Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (1990-1993)
  • Barnet Copthall Stadium (1993-1995)
  • The Stoop, Twickenham (1995-1996)
  • The Valley, Charlton (1996-1997)
  • The Stoop (1997-1999)
  • The Valley (1999-2001)
  • Griffin Park, Brentford (2002-2006)
  • The Stoop (2007-2013)
  • The Hive, Edgware (2014-)

Kits and logos[edit]

Kits[edit]

The different incarnations of the club have each worn different playing kits.

The original Fulham team wore an all black kit with a broad white chevron on the shirt which was unaltered during that club's existence. As London Crusaders, the kit used the same colours again, but in a variety of designs over the seasons. London Broncos wore red, yellow and blue also in a variety of styles, with red being the predominant colour for the last 5 years of their existence. During 2012 and 2013, London Broncos colours were black and cyan blue with the home kit being black with a light blue trim and the reverse for the away kit. For the 2013 Challenge Cup games, London Broncos wore a special cup kit with the main colours being red, blue, yellow and white. The shirt consisted of a broad yellow, blue and white chevron - http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/challenge-cup-london-broncos-draw-on-memories-of-1999-8607764.html

For the 2014 season, London Broncos' home kit was black and cyan hoops with a red trim at the bottom of the sleeves with the away strip being white and grey hoops.

Logos[edit]

Honours[edit]

Players earning international caps while at the club[edit]

  • David Bishop won caps for Wales while at Hull Kingston Rovers, and London Crusaders in 1991…1992(1995?) 4-caps 1-try 4-points
  • Lamont Bryan won caps for Jamaica while at Harlequins in 2009 against USA, in 2010 against USA and Canada
  • Adrian Cambriani won caps for Wales while at Fulham in 1981 3-caps
  • Michael Channing won caps for Wales while at London Broncos in 2012 against France and England
  • Tony Clubb won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2008 against Wales, in 2009 against France and in 2010 against Papua New Guinea
  • John Dalgreen won a cap for Great Britain while at Fulham in 1982 against Australia
  • Lee Greenwood won caps for England while at London Broncos in 2004 against Russia, and Ireland
  • Gareth Haggerty won caps for Ireland while at Harlequins in 2008 RLWC
  • Karle Hammond won caps for Wales while at London Broncos (1996…?)1999 3(4?)-caps
  • Solomon Haumono won caps for Tonga while at Harlequins in 2006 Federation Shield
  • Martin Herdman won caps for Wales while at Fulham in 1981…1982 2(3?)-caps
  • Sylvain Houles won caps for France while at London Broncos in 2001 against South Africa
  • Steffan Hughes won caps for Wales while at London Broncos 2001(…2002?) 1-cap (sub)
  • Thomas Leuluai won caps for New Zealand while at Harlequins in 2004…2006
  • Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2008 Wales, and in 2009 against Wales
  • Chris Melling won caps for Great Britain while at Harlequins in 2007 against France
  • David Mills won caps for Wales while at Harlequins in 2006 against Scotland
  • Mick Nanyn won caps for Scotland while at Harlequins in 2008 RLWC
  • Jamie O'Callaghan won caps for Ireland while at Harlequins in 2010 against Wales, Scotland and France
  • Rob Purdham won caps for England while at Harlequins in 2006 against France, Tonga (2 matches), and Samoa
  • Julien Rinaldi won caps for France while at Harlequins in 2007 against Great Britain, and in 2008 against England
  • Louis Robinson won caps for Canada while at Harlequins in 2011 against Jamaica,1-try, USA away and home 2-points. 3 Caps
  • Tyrone Smith won caps for Tonga while at Harlequins in 2006 Federation Shield
  • Paul Sykes won caps for England while at London Broncos in 2005 against France, and New Zealand, and won caps for Great Britain while at Harlequins in 2007 against France
  • Steve Thomas won caps for Wales while at Bradford Bulls, London Broncos, and Celtic Crusaders in 1999…2007 4(5?)-caps + 1-cap (sub) 2-tries 8-points

Records[edit]

Individual player records[edit]

Team records[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rugby League: London lose their innocence on their last crusade: Dave Hadfield on the metamorphosis taking place after tomorrow's Second Division Premiership final The Independent, 21 May 1994
  2. ^ York make Super League move BBC Sport, 31 August 2001
  3. ^ Rae, Richard (5 February 2006). "Rugby League: London calling". Times Online (Times Newspapers Ltd.). Retrieved 27 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "The London Broncos are Back! (press release)". www.londonbroncosrl.com. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "London Broncos to go into administration". BBC Sport (BBC). 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "London Broncos hopeful of securing future after 'positive' talks". BBC News. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www1.skysports.com/rugby-league/news/12212/9071969/london-broncos-to-compete-in-2014-after-sealing-barnet-groundshare

External links[edit]