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SOLDIERS LEAGUE PATRON INDUCTED INTO RUGBY LEAGUE HALL OF FAME

1 week ago By Jeremy Bethell

Soldiers League wish to congratulate Andy Gregory, one of our patrons.

Andy was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the RLIF Golden Boot dinner at Elland Road, yesterday, Wed 7th Nov.

Lots has been written about the playing career of Andy Gregory, and the film celebrating his career to mark his induction into the RL Hall of Fame is to be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahwzF5GGm_E&edufilter=NULL

What is not so well known are his massive contributions to the game and society at large since he retired from playing. One example is the role he took on in 2003 as coach for the Army Rugby League 1st XIII (more detail below). It was through this connection he joined Soldiers League and has contributed significantly to our charity ever since. We were so pleased when he agreed to become one of the Patrons. The photograph shows him on the day after the Annual Dinner, accompanying our Wounded, Injured and Sick servicemen dinner guests on their way to Wembley for the Challenge Cup final, a small example of the commitment to us that he shows.

To get a flavour of his time with the ARL, we publish the following, which is his forward to “Soldiers League, The Story of Army Rugby League”:

“I got involved with Army Rugby League through Jimmy Aspinall, who is a good mate of mine, and has been in the Army for over 20 years.

I found the team easy to coach. They were disciplined, fit and listened to the coaches and other players. They showed me the utmost respect. The hardest job I had was when we were playing the Royal Navy in the Inter-Services competition. I had to try to keep them calm! I didn’t realise there was such a rivalry between the Army and the Navy, I was a bit naïve. I built up some great ties with the team; they didn’t like losing at all, especially against the Royal Navy. They felt that the Navy boys got all the perks. The players were very determined; they played the game hard and always gave 110 per cent.

I remember going to a barracks in Yorkshire to coach the team. At the gate, the sentry asked me who I was. “Coach of the British Army rugby league team” I replied. “But what are you?” he asked me. I was a bit confused, so I replied “A Great Britain international”. “No”, he said, “Are you a civvy?” “Yes” I said, so after that I was “Andy Gregory, British Army coach and ‘Civvy’”.

When I was staying in a barracks they would always put me in the Officers’ Mess, and looked after me. I had a great time.

One of the problems we had, which was also true for the RAF and the Royal Navy, was that we never knew what team we would have. We needed a regular team, to develop some fluency. But we would have players flying in a day or two before the game, then some more would turn up the next day. If we could have played regularly, with a consistent side, we would have matched the best amateur teams.

When we played in the Inter-Services tournament, the captain gave a really good speech. He explained what we were here for, what the Army means, and to go out and do battle, show determination and team spirit. They always backed each other up. They had a real team spirit, a camaraderie, based on their Army life.

Jimmy organised for me to go to Germany, to Munster, to do presentations there for one of their tournaments. I had a great time, we had a German meal, and the food and hospitality were absolutely superb. And I went in a tank – Jimmy has the photos!

I have no links with the Army, but my granddad fought in the Second World War, and was a Prisoner-of-War in Burma. He raised me with my mum, and helped me on my way. He had died by the time I coached the Army team, but I think he would have been very proud of me.”

Published by kind permission of London League Publications

Updated 15:02 - 8 Nov 2018 by Jeremy Bethell

Where next?

RUGBY LEAGUE AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS. ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND The past three weekends have seen England take on New Zealand in an Autumn international series

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Results
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