Bramley Buffaloes

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Bramley Buffaloes
Bramley rlcc.jpg
Club information
Full name Bramley Buffaloes Rugby League Community Club
Colours Amber and black
Founded 1879
Current details
  • Canal Bank, Rodley, Leeds
Competition Yorkshire Men's League

Bramley Buffaloes RLFC is a rugby league club from the Bramley area of West Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. Previously known simply as Bramley RLFC, the club is a famous name in rugby league, having existed prior to the formation of the Northern Union in 1895. The traditional nickname for the club is the Villagers which survives as the name of the official match programme.


Early history[edit]

Bramley were founded in 1879. They played at Whitegate Farm and Pollard Lane from their founding and moving to the Barley Mow ground in 1890.

The city of Leeds had an abundance of rugby football clubs and although members of the Yorkshire RFU[1] (which was in turn a Constituent Body of the RFU), it was decided to form a ‘more local’ association. It was for this reason that the Leeds & District organization was formalised when a meeting took place at the Green Dragon Hotel, Leeds on 27 September 1888. The foundation clubs were Bramley, Holbeck, Hunslet, Kirkstall, Leeds Parish Church, Leeds St John’s (later to become Leeds), and Wortley. [2]

Bramley’s England international Harry Bradshaw, was the first test case at Twickenham, over "broken time payments" in 1893, two years before the "great schism" of 1895 that resulted in the formation of the Northern Union which in time would be renamed as the Rugby League. Bramley were admitted to the new Northern Union on 2 June 1896. The rugby league was then split into two county leagues, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

James Lomas became rugby league's first £100 transfer from Bramley to Salford in 1901.[3]

On 9 October 1907, they became the first club to entertain a touring side when they played New Zealand.

In 1942-43, Bramley dropped out of the wartime Yorkshire League, they did not return to league competition until 1945-46.


In the 1960s, the club moved to a new ground on land adjacent to Barley Mow, which became known as McLaren Field. Bramley developed the ground into a more modern stadia in 1966. The new ground would help to take them up the leagues.

In 1973 the clubs voted to split into two divisions. Arthur Keegan became first team coach. Bramley defeated Wakefield Trinity, Castleford and St Helens in order to reach the 1973 BBC2 Floodlit Trophy. They won the trophy with a 15–7 away victory over Widnes on 14 December 1973. It was the first cup Bramley had won in their entire history. Ironically, due to power cuts resulting from the Three-Day Week, the final against Widnes at Naughton Park took place on a mid-week afternoon. The club played in the First Division in that 1973-74 season. Though relegated the club had some excellent league wins including an away victory at Headingley against Leeds. The loss of fixtures against Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford cost the club financially.

On Sunday 1 September 1974, Bramley defeated Doncaster 52–17 at McLaren Field in a Yorkshire Cup, first round tie, this broke the club record which had stood since 1946. The resources of the Villagers could not sustain this success, results and attendances flagged, and Keegan was sacked in September 1976.

Bramley won promotion to Division One, under Peter Fox, in the 1976-77 season.

Bramley almost went into liquidation in October 1983 but survived.

In 1990 the club was faced with an estimated bill of £250,000 to carry out comprehensive safety work at McLaren Field for the start of the 1991–92 season. John Kear was appointed coach in 1992.

In January 1994, Bramley announced plans to leave McLaren Field and move in with Northern Premier League Association football club Farsley Celtic. In June 1994, they changed their minds and decided to stay at McLaren Field until the end of the 1994–95 season as Hunslet discussed playing games at McLaren Field instead of Elland Road. The following seasons they played at Clarence Field, Kirkstall, the home of Headingley rugby union club, after the previous directors sold McLaren Field for housing and then moved to Headingley in 1997. Crowd numbers were affected and the team became ever more overshadowed by Leeds. Leeds players such as Barrie McDermott and Leroy Rivett turned out for Bramley on the way back from injury.

In 1999, a possible merger between Hunslet and Bramley was debated. [1] At the end of the 1999 season Bramley resigned from the Northern Ford Premiership to become a feeder team for Leeds, but this never materialised. Bramley applied to rejoin the Northern Ford Premiership in 2000 but were rejected whilst a similar bid from Gateshead Thunder was accepted. They had planned to play games at the home of soccer club Farsley Celtic and progressively upgrade the ground, this may have been the cause of the rejection.[speculation?]

The new club[edit]

Bramley applied again to rejoin the Rugby Football League for the 2003 season with their home games to be played at Morley Rugby Union Club, with the long-term aim of establishing their own ground. They were rejected again despite meeting the grounds criteria because the stadium was not in Bramley. They were reformed as a supporter-owned club and joined National League Three, also fielding a side in the Rugby League Conference. The first game against Sheffield Hillsborough Hawks drew a crowd of more than 1,200. In that first 2004 season, coached by Phil Hellewell, the club reached the NL3 Championship semi-finals, losing at eventual champions Coventry Bears. In 2005 the Buffaloes went a step further reaching the Grand Final at Widnes, losing in the last quarter to Bradford Dudley Hill.

The third season saw Paul Cook take over as Head Coach. He took Buffaloes to the Grand Final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington where the Buffaloes beat Hemel Stags 30 points to 8. In 2007, NL3 was rebranded as the Rugby League Conference National Division. The Buffaloes finished top again to take the Minor Premiers Trophy, but were beaten by Featherstone Lions in the final held at Headingley.

In November 2008, Paul Cook left his post as head coach of Bramley Buffaloes to take up an Assistant Coach role at Huddersfield. Mark Butterill was appointed head coach with Jon Nicholls being appointed assistant coach. Buffaloes were again crowned Minor Premiers, finishing top once more but lost to Celtic Crusaders Colts in the Grand Final despite beating them three times during the season.

Bramley Buffaloes and Rodley Rockets ARLFC merged from the start of 2014. The new club will play under the Bramley Buffaloes name with their home matches at Rodley’s Canal Bank ground, but on 16 April 2015, the club announced that they had to pull out of the Yorkshire Mens League for the 2015 season (due to having no coach and a lack of players), but hope to be back for the 2016 season


1 Then known as National League Three.

Past coaches[edit]

Players earning international caps while at Bramley[edit]

Other notable players[edit]


Player records[edit]

Club records[edit]

  • Highest score for: 86–0 vs Essex Eels, 19 June 2005
  • Highest score against: 92-7 vs Australia, 9 November 1921 (Tour Match)
  • Highest attendance at Barley Mow: 12,600 vs Leeds, 7 May 1947
  • Highest attendance at McLaren Field: 7,500 vs Bradford Northern, 17 February 1972


External links[edit]