Interviews

Rugby League in Hunslet during the 1930s and getting started

Throughout much of the last century Hunslet was one of Rugby League’s greatest strongholds. The sport held such a special place in the local community that, despite the close proximity of Leeds United’s Elland Road home, it was Rugby league the kid’s played in Hunslet’s streets and schools. Consequently, the area was one of the sport’s most prolific sources of junior talent. Local schools like Hunslet Carr produced a stream of professional players, such as Bill Thornton and Cyrill Morrell who both starred in the Challenge Cup and Championship victories of the 1930s. Sid Rookes also enjoyed a successful career as in junior Rugby League. He went to the Hunslet National School where his team mates included Frank Watson who also joined Hunslet after leaving school, before moving on to Leeds in the late 1940s.

Match days were eagerly anticipated by many Hunslet residents and droves of local people regularly Mother Benson's Endmade the short walk to the Parkside ground on Saturday afternoons. The venue was a much loved institution in the community and future Hunslet players like Sid Rookes and Alf Burnell remember watching matches from the famous Mother Benson’s End. This part of the ground was named after the old lady who washed the players’ kit and lived in one of the Low Fold farm cottages which were situated at that end of the ground. Sid Rookes’ early years as a spectator also coincided with the club’s successes in the 1930s and he had the good fortune to be asked to act as a ball boy when the club made its successful appearance at Wembley in 1934.