Why now is a good time to support the London Broncos


The side had a poor season but there is much to be positive about.


By Andrew Belt

Although it may not seem great on the surface, there are a lot of reasons to be positive about as a London Broncos supporter now.

Uncertainty reins in rugby league at the moment, with the Broncos bearing the brunt of it in relation to the restructuring of the sport and also the as-yet unrevealed new home for the capital side.

What is known is that Super League will be downsized to accommodate a supposedly more intense competition from 2015 and on current league positions, London would be in line for demotion.

Yet, were this to be the case the Broncos would have the chance to realistically aim for success in the league and win promotion for the first time.

Most encouraging is the crop of home-grown talent coming through the ranks which suggests that there will be talent in the ranks for years to come.

The depth of true London quality at under-19 level saw Harry Little and Joel Wicks make their debuts at Wakefield last weekend and the likes of Mike Bishay represent the club for the first time earlier this season.

Ensuring the best that the capital has to offer remains with the Broncos must be a priority, particularly in the case of Dan Sarginson and Kieran Dixon, to help the club’s unique London identity.

The culmination of 18 years at the highest level of the sport has allowed London to name its first-ever capital-born captain in Tony Clubb just weeks ago.

Whatever happens league-wise, there’s enough from within the club to afford pride to the loyal Londoners who support the team for years to come.

Sustainability, of course, can only be guaranteed by investment and the short-term capture of half-back Jamie Soward is an encouraging sign of David Hughes’ continued financial backing of the club.

As for a base for the Broncos, the 5,100 capacity Hive in Harrow is strongly rumoured to be London’s next destination and hopefully an intimate atmosphere in a smaller stadium can be generated for the long-term future if that is the case.

Bringing it back to their current league predicament and it’s only due to Salford City Reds’ two-point deduction that London aren’t propping up the rest of the division.

It’s been a testing Super League season for the Broncos but, perhaps fittingly, their form in their last year at Twickenham Stoop has been rather good.

With the exception of the chastening defeat to Wigan, three wins and two draws from the last six outings at the Stoop is pretty impressive and the performances against St Helens and Bradford in that period were particularly uplifting.

After today, there only remains two more Broncos games at the Stoop versus leading lights in Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants and it would be good to go out of south-west London in style, backed by appreciative crowds.

But most excitingly for those backing the Broncos this season has to be the prospect of making the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time since 1999 – the year of the club’s only final appearance.

Back then, the likes of Martin Offiah, Shaun Edwards and record Broncos appearance holder Steele Retchless saw off Castleford at Headingley to bring the Richard Branson-backed outfit to Wembley for the first time.

This year, part-timers Sheffield Eagles provide the opposition in the quarters and a wholly winnable opportunity to be just one step away from an inaugural visit to the new Wembley.

London’s Challenge Cup Final was the last to be played at the old Twin Towers but who’s to say that the new breed inspired by Dixon, Sarginson, Chris Bailey and Michael Witt can’t bring rugby league into the capital’s consciousness once again?

Head coach Tony Rea introduced a limited edition shirt for the cup competition such is his relish for the tournament and he will know the tournament offers the Broncos’ last chance to make 2013 a season to be proud of.

With the trials of the cup and league reaching its climax, now is a better time than ever to support London.

Against the tide of football and union, the Broncos struggle to sell rugby league in the capital but their efforts, and the growing emergence of London talent, is worth following as they head into a challenging time for the sport.

Photo courtesy of QuinsRugbyLeague, with thanks.

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