Regarding the discussions around the future of Don Valley Stadium, there appears to be a very important group being forgotten about, I’m talking about the players and supporters of Sheffield Eagles.
If it wasn’t for DVS then I may have never become an Eagles fan but I decided to go to a game at Don Valley to see what the stadium was like. I was impressed and was also that impressed with the game that I became instantly hooked on what in my opinion is the best sport in the world.
The Eagles have been at DVS right from the start, using the stadium every couple of weeks.
Although in recent years they have had a handful of games at Bramall Lane it’s not possible to play more matches there because of the maintenance required on the pitch every summer.
Contrary to many people’s belief rugby league doesn’t damage pitches as much as most sports but I can understand SUFC’s wish to have a perfect surface for the start of their season in August.
That leaves a very important question, where would Sheffield Eagles play if DVS were to close?
We played one game at Woodbourn a few years ago but it’s not really suitable as it wouldn’t meet the Rugby Football League’s criteria. Would we have to go to Rotherham or perhaps Chesterfield?
My understanding is that nothing has been fully agreed yet and I’ve read a statement by the club saying that the 2013 fixtures will not be affected, but what will happen next year?
Despite not being in the stronghold area of rugby league, the Eagles have brought honours to the city. In 1998 we won the Challenge Cup but were subsequently merged with Huddersfield.
Since the reform of the club under the current board the Eagles have improved year on year and are the current champions.
The club is extremely well run now and everyone has worked tirelessly to develop a youth structure that is probably the best outside and better than many of the Super League clubs.
Coach Mark Aston has said that it’s his vision to have a Super League club in Sheffield where the majority of the lads have come through the youth set-up.
This work will all be wasted if the club has to fold because of a lack of a suitable home venue.
As we approach the start of a new season with a title to defend the optimism of the supporters after that fantastic win at Warrington to clinch the championship has been dashed.
Not wanting to take anything away from the achievements of the Olympians, I think it’s important to realise that there is another sport in Sheffield that uses DVS and a club that deserves support from the media in raising its profile in order to get our case across to keep the stadium open.
It’s a great club, a great sport, played and watched by some great people. To quote the club’s strapline “Our City. Our Team”.
So a plea from me, please help to keep Sheffield Eagles alive in Sheffield.
Dave Goodlad, Eagles supporter