Bramley RLFC

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Club information
Full nameBramley RLFC
Nickname(s)The Villagers
Former details
CompetitionNorthern Ford Premiership
BBC2 Floodlit Trophy1 (1973–74)

Bramley RLFC was a rugby league club from the Bramley area of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England, that folded following the 1999 season. 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 was 'the Villagers'.

Bramley R.L. was founded once again in 2015, as a junior RL club. Running From the Bramley Villagers Social Club, and playing on Pollard Lane, Bramley.


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 organisation 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 the New Zealand All Golds.

On 9 November 1921, the Australian Kangaroos as part of the 1921-22 Kangaroo tour, defeated Bramley 92-7 at Barley Mow. This would remain the highest ever score for an Australian team during a Kangaroo Tour.[4]

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 Trinity and Bradford Northern cost the club financially.

On Sunday 1 September 1974, Bramley defeated Doncaster 52–17 at McLaren Field in a Yorkshire County 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.[5] 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 club folded.


Past coaches[edit]

Players earning international caps while at Bramley[edit]

Other notable players[edit]


Player records[edit]

Club records[edit]

  • 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


  1. ^ "Yorkshire RFU". Archived from the original on 2011-12-07.
  2. ^ "Leeds and District Rugby League". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28.
  3. ^ Baker, Andrew (1995-08-20). "100 years of rugby league: From the great divide to the Super era". Independent, The. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  4. ^ 1921-22 Kangaroo Tour - Bramley vs Australia
  5. ^ Rugby League: Old cup kings given fright by Bramley, The Independent, 3 March 1997

External links[edit]