Hunslet’s crowds may not have been the biggest in the country in recent years, but the Betfred League 1 leaders certainly have the backing of Rugby League fans from around the globe.
General manager Peter Todd has had proof positive of that in recent weeks, explaining: “The Hunslet RLFC shop has been pretty quiet over the last couple of months, quite understandably, along with all other non-essential outlets. Even the on-line store has been quieter than usual, but there have been a few unexpected sales.
“Whilst we like to think that we have a global presence, we were still pleasantly surprised by a number of overseas orders.
“We know that we were the first super-team of Rugby League (although you may not remember the all-conquering team of 1907-08, which won all FOUR trophies on offer that season) but sales to Australia and the USA surprised even us.
“A young man from North Sydney bought a shirt and admitted to having a connection with Swinton rather than Hunslet, but did not elaborate on this.
“A purchaser from North America was obviously a fervent RL (and Hunslet) fan, having sent the following email to the club: `I hope this finds you well. I run a podcast called “Rugby League in America” and I’m giving it my best go to help grow the game via the media side.
“`The reason for reaching out to you is to inquire as to whether your club has a photo of Lucius Banks?
“`Historically he’s our first ever American to play RL, so my intent is to begin a yearly award given in his honor, to the best domestic American player. The photo would be used digitally to print a copy to be placed on the plaque each year.’
“I am pleased to say that Pat Benatmane, Hunslet’s Keeper of the Records, replied.
“Our third, and more detailed, response was from an Australian fan of North Sydney, who sound very much like ourselves, which read: `I support North Sydney – betrayed at the end of the Super League war here. We are now permanent second tier and reserve grade for the NRL team that has the best deal. Storm, Rabbits and now Roosters in the 20 years since the great disaster.
“`In 2020 with the current plague Norths won’t struggle financially without gate money and sponsors in the short term – Norths Leagues (Social) Club alone still contributes $550,000 to the football team per year. Newtown Jets don’t have that luxury – another original club removed from the top tier (end of 1983) so I bought a second club membership to help their current revenue campaign.
“`English RL needs support so instead of buying membership I thought I’d buy a jersey to show support of a Norths like team.
“`My dad was in this hemisphere but he closely followed English RL from a distance from post-World War II Risman onwards….he was a fan of Arthur Clues, a Hunslet link.
“`Norths were very close to being top tier winners three times in the 1990s but as you may know they aren’t (in your English context) a Wigan or St Helens let alone a Castleford or Huddersfield. Our only period of greatness was a few years after World War I (champions in 1921 and 1922).
“`As a Norths fan I have therefore always had interest in those more `North Sydney-like’ and that includes Hunslet – a team that doesn’t wear red and white and or blue but does wear some green.
“`Hunslet will be worn in Canberra, I have only ever had Norths jerseys so my first non-Red&Black.’”