It’s the best part of two decades ago now since Rugby League journalist David Saffer shared a happy press box at the South Leeds Stadium with several other seasoned scribes.
At that time the press area was situated on the left hand side of the main stand, just above the concourse (but alas no longer, since Leeds City Council removed the adjustable `desks’ and the power points) and directly in front of the area then reserved for away supporters.
Regulars during David’s time – from 2005 and 2012 – included Jon Wray and Richard Coomber of the press agency Gosneys, Chris Westwood and one Phil Hodgson, who is now Hunslet’s press officer.
It’s some time since David’s been to the ground – not, it’s believed, since he moved to the south of England – but he retains a very soft spot for the Parksiders who, during his time, were of course known as the Hawks.
So much so that he couldn’t help but get in touch over a recent purchase, made during that spell, that means a lot to him, and which will resonate with Hunslet fans.
He enthuses: “Around 15 years ago I picked up the 1974-75 John Player Rugby League Yearbook on eBay.
“The description said 300-plus signatures so, for £15, I thought it was worth a punt. There are a lot of forgeries around but it was obvious this was genuine when I saw it. It’s a great social history and I recalled the time as a teenager following (sorry) Leeds RL.”
David continues: “The seller told me that he’d sold another and after a bit of research I found and arranged a swap of the 1973-74 version. I’ve been offered a tidy profit for them but they are not for sale. All the greats of the mid-70s have signed the book and it’s wonderful nostalgia.”
David also has fond memories of former Hunslet player and coach Bill Ramsey, who sadly passed away in 2019 and who he got to know pretty well. Ramsey, together with Geoff Shelton, was one of two Hunslet players on Great Britain’s tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1966, featuring in five of the five Tests. Bill thought so highly of David that he gave him his blazer badge from that trip – and quite rightly it’s another of his most prized possessions.