LEIGH are celebrating their long and rich history this month, culminating in their first ever Heritage Day on August 30.
That’s the day when Centurions entertain Workington at the Sports Village and it’s also when the club’s heritage numbers are officially launched.
Several teams have allocated heritage numbers to their players in recent years including Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors. They have also been adopted by other sports such as cricket and football.
By going back through the record books, a player is allocated a number unique to them which represents the order in which they made their debut for the club.
After years of painstaking and exhaustive research, Leigh fan and author Mike Latham is publishing the numbers in a special limited edition brochure which goes on sale later this month.
“The response has been heart warming,” said Latham. “Not least from current players eager to find their number so they can have it tattooed above their ankle.
“I’d done Wigan’s heritage numbers last year but Leigh was much closer to my heart and I decided it was about time I got my act together.”
Latham spent years visiting libraries, scoring microfilms and newspaper archives to find out about every Leigh game and every Leigh player.
“It has been a mammoth task,” admits Latham. “It has involved many hours spent poring over archive material and at times became an obsession.
“In all there are nearly 1,400 players since 1895. I’ve decided to go back even further and allocated separate Founders’ Numbers to the players that represented the club in its rugby union days from 1878-1895. After all this is an important period in the club’s history which is often overlooked.”
Certain periods carry special resonance for Latham such as the Championship winning 1981-82 season when the local heroes were John Woods, Des Drummond and Steve Donlan. Going back through the history books brought back many happy - and some not so happy memories. Latham uncovered some fascinating stories about players along the way and some of these stories appear in the brochure which is on sale for £5. Other contributors include former chairman Brian Bowman, Jason Donohue of the Leigh Centurions Player Association, coach Paul Rowley and head of rugby Derek Beaumont.
Centurions will wear a special edition red and white hooped shirt, blue shorts and blue socks for the game against Workington - a throwback to the design of a much earlier age. There will be no sponsors on the shirt and each will feature the heritage number of the player wearing it under the town coat of arms.
On Friday the club officially launches the heritage numbers at a special dinner where around 50 players from different eras will be in attendance. Each player will receive a momento, depicting the players’ name, heritage number and date of debut.
On Wednesday, August 20, fans are invited to the an event in the Leigh Sports Village Banqueting Suite. The first team squad will be in attendance and presented with their heritage playing shirt they will wear against Workington by coach Paul Rowley and head of rugby Derek Beaumont. Tickets, limited to 200, cost £5 including food.
Preference for applications has been given to Touchdown Club members, LISA members and season ticket holders before any remaining tickets are placed on general sale.
Tickets are available to Touchdown Club members, LISA members and season ticket holders from the Leigh Centurions ticket office now until close of business on Thursday, August 14. Any remaining tickets will go on sale on Friday 15 August.
The club’s specially produced Heritage Booklet priced at £5 will be available for sale on the night.
On Monday, August 25, a Leigh Past Players team will play a select team from Leigh Cricket Club in a friendly 20/20 game. This will begin at 2:30pm. Then on August 30, the club are inviting all past players to take part in a parade around the Sports Village pitch alongside a child carrying their heritage number ahead of the game against Workington.
More than 100 past players have been invited to the game with their children, grandchildren and families.