Warrington — 27 June 2015
Armed Forces Day at Crosfields ARLFC – The Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy
- Crosfields Rugby Club,
Hood Lane North,
The whole day is an annual amateur rugby league festival held at Crosfields Amateur Rugby League Football Club, Warrington (The Rugby Football League’s 2014 Community Club of the Year!). Now in its 6th year, the festival has without doubt become the biggest amateur Rugby League event in the UK with more than 4000 people attending in 2014, despite some atrocious weather, and even more expected to attend in 2015.
The fixture is now one of the very first entries into the Army Rugby League fixture diary. Since its inception in 2010 four further festivals have taken place, expanding into a ‘double header’ event in 2012 and 2013, and again 2014 saw it grow yet still with the first ‘TRIPLE HEADER’!
It is undeniable that the Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy festival has gone on to become both the UK’s biggest amateur Rugby League event and the Armed Forces Day focal point for the people of Warrington and surrounding area. It is here that the community has taken the opportunity to come together to enjoy a fabulous day of Rugby League entertainment with thousands of people showing their continuing and unwavering support to all of our Armed Forces. In doing so the event has raised tens of thousands of pounds for Armed Forces, Rugby League and local charities.
As mentioned the 2015 festival sees a series of 3 games of Rugby League featuring teams from across the Armed Forces. The ‘Triple – Header’ consists of the following Challenge Matches;
The Hilary Steel Memorial Plate – The Steel Plate
This fixture is an all ladies affair, right down to each of the match officials. Kicking off at 11:30 The 2013 Women’s Rugby League Division 1 League Leaders, Crosfields Ladies Rugby League will take on the 2013 & 2014 Armed Forces Women’s Rugby League Champions, The Army Rugby League Women. The ladies will be showing their skills and passion and the Crosfields ladies will be looking to avenge their 2014 defeat, similarly the Army Ladies want to keep hold of this fantastic trophy! The trophy itself has been very kindly donated by Hilary’s family and they will once again step forward onto the pitch-side podium to personally present the trophy and commemorative medals to all of the players and officials. As a slight aside, the Army Rugby League Women have recently been awarded the prestigious 2014 ‘Army Sports Team of the Year’!
The (Tom) Coleridge Cup
The second game of the festival kicks off at 1:30 and for the fourth year in succession; the fixture is once again an all military affair! The two Infantry Regiments that have traditionally recruited from Warrington go head to head. The 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment (1 MERCIAN) and the 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (1 LANCS) will go into battle for the honour of lifting the Coleridge Cup.
The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment recruits its soldiers from the North of Warrington with the Mercian Regiment recruiting to the South; inevitably there is some form of ‘cross contamination’ with soldiers crossing the water (the recruiting boundary being the River Mersey) and ending up in the wrong Regiment. This has put soldiers/players who have played alongside each other since they were children on opposing sides. This match is anything but a friendly and pitches mate against mate … Regimental pride know no bounds and yearlong bragging rights are at stake!
The Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy
The main event: The Crosfields Club invites the current Army Rugby League Inter-Corps Champions to take part in the Challenge match. For the Army Corps teams the fixture is the pinnacle of their season. Winning the Inter-Corps Competition is one thing but participating in the Sephton Trophy is another step up. The Army RL season ends in September and the Corps Champions have 9 months’ notice of the fixture. From this point on the team builds their season around this one game … this IS their Cup Final.
3:30 on Armed Forces Day 2015 sees the 6th annual ‘Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy’, Crosfields ARLFC Select XIII take on the, The Royal Logistic Corps Rugby League (for the second year running) AND, after 2014’s victory, the current holders of the ‘Sephton Trophy’. The game is contested for the honour of lifting the trophy itself; a striking bronze Mortarman Statuette which was very proudly donated by Toms friends and comrades, the men he served alongside in the 1 MERCIAN Mortar Platoon.
The fixture again sees The Crosfields Select XIII team come together from those who once played alongside Tom Sephton. In addition the team is bolstered by players from the clubs current open age and under 18’s squads. It is seen as a great honour to play in this game and these additional players will have had to have worked extremely hard throughout the season to prove their worth and earn their place in this prestigious fixture.
The Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy after match hospitality and celebrations have become legendary affairs; from Fijian hymns where you can hear a pin drop to HaKa War cries that have grown men running for cover to the forging of friendships that will last a lifetime. The Tom Sephton Memorial Trophy is all that … and much, much more.
Besides the 3 top class games of rugby league there are Armed Forces stands, stalls, activities, military vehicles and displays including an inflatable assault courses, an inflatable bouncy aeroplane, 40’ climbing walls, BATAK reflex testing machines and paintball ranges*(*TBC). There are Cadets, Armed Forces Associations, Organisations and Charities there to fund raise in a variety of ever bizarre ways as well as offering advice and support to our servicemen and women, our veterans and their families.
From the Rugby League world the event sees both the Challenge Cup AND Superleague Trophy on display. Then there’s the Warrington Wolves Foundation who bring their Try-Time inflatable and more. Widnes Vikings and the Salford Red Devils foundations also make an appearance. Stands and stalls from State of Mind, Rugby League Cares, The Steve Prescott Foundation, Her Rugby League Association, The Full Blood Project, The Chris Bridge Testimonial/Stroke Association and more being added all the time. The event especially welcomes local community organisations and those charities whose patrons are part of the Rugby League family. The festival offers everyone the opportunity to raise their profiles but more importantly valuable funds for worthy causes. With special appearances from star Superleague players throughout the day along with Club mascots ‘Wolfie’, St Bernard, Mighty Max and more, it’s a great Rugby League Community day out! It’s also where people really start digging deep and showing their support; taking part in fundraising activities and buying all sorts of merchandise from wristbands to clothing to mugs to well … anything really!
Then there’s the KIDZ-ZONE; Watching 3 games of Rugby League though enormous fun for the adults it can be a bit of a stretch for the little ones. To alleviate this there are lots of other activities to keep them occupied. There are more inflatables to bounce up and down on, face painting, Dance workshops, Craft making and painting, Mini Rugby and more … even ZORBS! With music, ‘Hot food from the famous Crosfields BBQ team, FIVE bars (at Rugby Club prices!) there is something for everyone.