“This club means a great deal to me and I’ll do anything to help it that I can.”
That’s the underlying philosophy of Kenny Sykes, who was appointed chairman of Hunslet at the end of January following the decision of Neil Hampshire to step down from the role.
Sykes, who played for club in its incarnations as Hunslet and New Hunslet for around thirteen seasons, from 1971 to 1983, may be York born and bred but he is a valued `adopted son’ of the south Leeds outfit, as proven by the request that he take over the chairmanship in a `figurehead’ style until at least the forthcoming elections in the spring.
It’s yet another honour for Kenny Sykes, who became President of the Hunslet Ex-Parkside RL Past Players’ Association last year, when he was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Hunslet has been a key part of Kenny Sykes life – as has his amateur club Heworth – since he signed for the Parksiders in 1971.
He played 162 matches for Hunslet, scoring 15 tries, and appeared in 105 `A’ team games. Those first team matches included the last game at Parkside – against his home club York – in April 1973, and New Hunslet’s first fixture, at Keighley, the following season.
A real highlight of his career was the game at Hull at the end of the 1978-79 campaign (during which he was an ever-present) when both sides gained promotion from Division Two, the Airlie Birds sealing a 100 per cent winning record throughout the league season with a hard-earned victory before 12,000 fans.
Sykes, on returning to Heworth, played for a further eight seasons, featuring in the 1986-87 BARLA National Cup Final, and has subsequently served his amateur club with distinction as secretary.
He has never lost touch with Hunslet, however, and admits: “I’m a supporter and always will be, and still got to matches even when I was playing for Heworth. I was a York supporter as a lad but whenever Hunslet played York I’d wear my Hunslet scarf; they’re my team.
“The club’s been good to me from the very start, as an outsider from York among lads who went to Hunslet schools, and I’ve always tried to back Hunslet in return.
“I’ve put a few bob in over the years and I’m happy to take on the position of chairman and do the handshaking and the greeting that comes with the role.”