NSWPRL England Tour 1990

1990 was a significant year for the NSWPRL.  Tireless workers, President Alex Ramsey, Secretary and Treasurer, Doug Keen and Terry Cameron had worked for years to organise the first NSWPRL tour of England.  Players and supporters enjoyed the three week tour which coincided with the Australian Kangaroo tour.  The photograph below is at the traditional 'Headingley' Stadium, home of Leeds RLFC.  The touring party had witnessed the Australian Kangaroos defeat Leeds.

Re printed from the 1990 NSWPRL Year book.
The NSWPRL 1990 touring party departed Sydney for the United Kingdom on Sunday, 14th October 1990 and arrived at Gatwick Airport on Tuesday October the 16th.Upon arrival the touring party was met by the English co-ordinators, John Holmes and Trevor Brown of West Yourkshire.   Mark Quinn, the link man for the Metropolitan London Police also greeted the touring party.The tour started and sustained a hectic pace - visiting items of interest, playing football, training daily at 9am rain, hail or shine and attending official functions.  The touring party was invited to two official receptions, the first with the Mayor of Kirklees, Mr. Tom O'Donovan....and the second with the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Mr. Killgallon.Mr. O'Donovan is also the Chairman of the British Amateur Rugby League Association and a person who was very well received amongst the tourists.  There was little doubt that with the backing of the West Yorkshire Police, Mr. O'Donovan and the co-ordinating of John Holmes of the West Yorshire Police Athletic Association, the tour was going to be a unique experience and a success.All the tourists, including the supporters, felt accepted within the community who were warm in providing assistance when requested.The accomodation at the Hunting Lodge, Kettlethorpe, Wakefield by Chris Hooley and staff was outstanding and allowed the tourists to settle in quickly.  At the completion of each game the tour leader, Sergeant Alex Ramsay, was required to respond to official welcomes by the officials of the individual clubs played against.Alex made the point clear that the facilities available to the various Police Forces in England were outstanding and the way their grounds were maintained was an eye opener to the tourists.  These facilities were used by the English Police teams to prepare for selection in the first ever Great Britain Police side, to tour Australia in two years time (1992).The tourists were also impressed with the support and attendance of senior officers attending each game/function: Chief Superintendent Ivor Jolly of the Greater Manchester Police Football Club;  John Holmes, representing Chief Constable Peter Nobes of the West Yorkshire Police; Chief Constable Ron Hatfield of the West Midlands Poice; Assistant Chief Constable Keith Rogers of Humberside Police; and Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mr. Howley of the London Metropolitan Police.Sergeant Ramsay commented: "For Rugby League to progress within Police FOrces, support must not only come fro players but ehre is a need for senior officers within the Police forces to recognise what players and officials are striving for ; that being interaction and competition between police, developing character and friendship between members of the Forces.  In NSW there is a somewhat void between the between the senior ranking officers of the service to the other officers supporting the game of Rugby League.  If anything, this tour has conditions of work, but there is a big need in your Forces for Rugby League to be recognised as a game alongside Rugby  Union.  There is room for two games to be played in Heaven."
The first game on tour was played against Greater Manchester Police at Hough End SPorts Ground, the referee being Roy Carter.  NSW defeated the Greater Manchester team 52-6.  The Man of the Match was awarded to NSW winger Steve Park who scored a hat-trick of tries.  The opening twenty minutes of the game was played in vigorous fashion by both teams.  Greater Manchester initially had the upper edge with good field position and attack.  Against the run of play,  Steve Park broke through in the mid field and sidestepped his way to score under the goal posts.  Players who stood out for Greater Manchester were Ian Sanderson, Allan Weardon and Dave Ryan.  Sanderson was chosen by his NSW opposition as the Man of the Match for the English side.  Greater Manchester was coached by Tony Warrell and captained by Aiden Murphy.  Thanks was given to Jackie Buckley, the Secretary of the Greater Manchester club for her assistance.Below are the two teams at the conclusion of the match.
This was not a game for the faint hearted and included all the attacking raids and punishing defensive hits that make rugby league the great game that it is. The West Yorkshire Police side coached by a most prestigious capped England player, John Atkinson proved a formidable opposition for the NSW tourists.  West Yorkshire captain Mark Bownass had a fantastic game and lead his team well.  The fitness of the NSW tourists shone through in the end with them running out winners by 24-4.  Jeremy Roberst was voted the  best and fairest for the West Yorkshire team whilst Ed Belafanti won the award for the tourists.  Both teams sustained some injuries during the game.  The referee was also a casualty sustaining a knee injury which required him to be replaced and carried off by NSW Trainer Andy MacCulloch.
The NSW team for game three is below.
The third game was against the West Midlands Rugby League team coached by Jeff Walker, managed by Tony 'Trigger' Rogers and captained by Darren Moore.  NSWPR used this game to rest a few players who had sustained injury in the fierce second game.  After the team voted unanimously to give a few of the touring party an opportunity to play, Sean Lamerton and the crazy 'emu dancer' Steven Patrick Sean Peter Sullivan.  The tourists met a willing opposition but again their slickness and greater fitness was the catalyst for a 96-2 win.  Brad Roberge was judged the best and fairest for NSW, with Peter Greirley and Andy Hallbrook picking up the award for the West Midlands team.
The NSW team is pictured below.
 'Emu Dancer' Steve Sullivan sips on an 'Emu juice' at halftime.
A bus trip to the rugby league heat land of north eastern England, Hull saw the NSW tourists take on a committed Humberside Police team.  Coached by John Arp and captained by Phil Lambert the Humberside Police came out with all guns blazing to try and upset the NSW tourists unbeaten record.  Referee Mike Sparrow adjudicated a game of fast tempo, but played in the right spirit.  Humberside competed right to end of the game won by NSW 44-10.  Carl Samerson collected the best and fairest award for the Humberside side whilst evergreen hooker, Steve Martin did likewise for the NSW tourists.  A surprise spectator at the game was the Balmain Tiger's number one supporter 'Laurie Nicholls'.  Laurie who was travelling through England with his mate and rugby league legend 'Artie Beetson', heard about the game.  Laurie showed his true passion for rugby league and love for the his Tigers, when one of 'his boys' former Balmain player Peter Nissen was in the NSWPRL team.  Laurie was also a good friend of ex Newtown player 'Larry Raleigh', who was on the tour as a supporter.
Wakefield Trinity legend Trevor Brown noticed that the Wakefield Trinity side had a week without a game due to tour scheduling of the Australian Kangaroos and the selection camp of the Great Britain team.  He approached Wakefield Trinity coach David Topliss who organised a game to be played on the Friday evening at Bel Vue, home to Wakefield Trinity.  The Wakefield Trinity team comprised their reserve grade side with five of the first grade team and was captained by Andy Kelly.  The game itself was a torrid encounter and the NSW team went into the game with pride and passion at wearing the NSW blues jumper.  The game was an intense ferocious encounter.  The English public supported the game, and their traditional singing and cheering created a unique atmosphere not experienced before by the tourists.  Coach 'Spike' Coleman had the NSW boys primed for a huge effort.  Led by captain Warren Lee, the NSW boys ran out eventual winners 26-20 to the surprise of their opposition and supporters.  The scoreline continually changed throughout the game, and the win indicated the depth, skill and strength of the classy NSW Police side.
Goodbye, northern England as the tourists re located at the London Metropolitan Police Academy, and prepared for the fifth game of the tour against the London Metropolitan Police team at their state of the art sports fields and club at 'Bushey'.
The London 'Met' side was coached by Steve Long and captained by Mark Quinn.  The 'Met' side also included a special guest at five eight, former Great Britain International veteran and Balmain Tiger David Topliss.  David was also the current coach of the Wakefield Trinity first grade team.  Topliss rallied the 'Met' team to bustle the slick NSW outfit.  At one stage the NSW side was about to execute a move when TOpliss, read the play as if he had invented it.  He subsequently intercepted a pass and ran eighty metres to score under the posts.  the half time score favoured the NSW tourist's 18-6.  In the second half the fitness of the NSW side again shone through and they ran out convincing winners in the last twenty minutes. Dave Evans was judged the best and fairest for the London 'Met' side and Paul Staunton judged the best from the tourist's.
Below the NSW bench in good spirits.

The NSW engine room of George Radmore and Brendan 'Moose' Mooney with a future player after the game.

This tour is a credit to those who worked hard to get it off the ground.  The entire playing squad had all played either grade football for Sydney clubs, or junior representative games in the President cup and or, Jersey Flegg.  The coach, ex Norths Sydney first grade player Steve 'Spike' Coleman was an extremely hard taskmaster but a very clever tactical coach.  The squad trained similar to pre season conditions in Sydney for a month prior to departing for the UK.  This discipline and fitness instilled into the team by 'Spike' shone through in the end and the tour was a great success with the team winning all games, including the one against a determined Wakefield Trinity, a step up in level and grade for a Police representative team.  The playing squad were required to train every day, (apart from game day) despite given the freedom of having a good time.  It is a credit to 'Spike' and the committee that every player made every training session and gave their heart and soul on and off the field.  The whole of the touring squad clicked without and problems and the synergy was fantastic.
Below is a photograph of the President Alex Ramsay at Headingley, and below that, Michael Barrett and Steve Martin on the 'crazy hat and shorts' day.

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