PROPOSED DISTRICT LEAGUE.
The unmistakable decline of the rugby game during the past few years in this district has this season been more pronounced than ever, causing many well-wishers of the game considerable anxiety as to its future. With a view of resuscitating interest in the handling code, a correspondent offers the following suggestions, which certainly are worthy of careful and deliberate consideration:- "No one who has welfare of the Rugby game at heart can have been anything else but pained to note the gradual, but sure, decline of interest in the game in this district during the past five years.
Probably the loss of our local clubs of their most attractive fixtures, owing to the defection of the large number of first-class clubs that have gone over to the Northern Union, has had much to do with this lamentable fact; but, whatever may be the reason, there is no doubt that unless something is done to revive the drooping, and on this side of the Mersey, well-nigh dead interest in the game, the Rugby code in Liverpool and district will in a few years be as extinct as a dodo. As an example of the low ebb to which public interest in the game has sunk, I may mention that one of our first-class clubs took a total gate-money for the entire past season of twelve home matches less than £6, an average of about 10s. per match ! and it is certain that if our leading clubs in Liverpool were not so loyally supported in financial way by their playing and non-playing members they would be unable to carry on at all. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that the apathy and indifference displayed by the sport-loving public has spread to the players, and not only is it becoming increasingly difficult to get men to keep themselves in the condition and training necessary for the highest development of the game, but even to raise teams sometimes has become an extremely arduous task. Such, then, is the state of affairs at present existing, and it behoves those who wish well to the game to find an adequate remedy for it. Such a remedy would, I feel convinced, be found in an adoption of the league system, and I would like to invite correspondence through the medium of your valued paper on the following proposition:- Of the advantages of a league it is not necessary for me to write, as the success of those in connection with the Northern Union in the Rugby world, and of those in connection with the association game, is a sufficient object-lesson of the utility of such a system in vastly increasing the interest not only of the general public, but also of the players. This would be specially the case in this district, where we are free from any taint of psuedo-amateurism, and I feel assured that were such a competition initiated the beneficial effects would be immediately apparent in greatly increased interest on the part of spectators, and renewed enthusiasm on the part of players. My proposition, which of course is merely a tentative one, and which would probably require to be modified or extended as circumstances demanded, is as follows:- The formation of a Manchester and Liverpool District Rugby Union League, and I would suggest the following clubs as members:-
Manchester: Broughton, Sale, Free Wanderers, Broughton Park.
Liverpool: Liverpool, Old Boys, Waterloo, Birkenhead Park, Birkenhead Wanderers.
The League would be governed by a committee consisting of one representative from each club in it, and probably, this need not necessarily be part of the scheme, a cup and medals would be presented to the winning team. Should it not be found possible to include he Manchester clubs in such a competition, a very good League could be formed in Liverpool and district alone, which then could include some of the rising junior teams of the district; but if at all feasible, the former scheme would be much preferable, as it would cause a much greater and more widely spread interest, and would prevent any unnecessary keenness and friction which might occur in a purely local League. If anything is to be done on these lines during next season, it is necessary that steps should be taken as soon possible, so I hope that those who favour the formation of such a League will communicate their views without delay."
Liverpool Mercury, Monday 3rd May 1897
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