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Lions & Patrick announce partnership!


At Swinton Lions we are delighted to confirm a four-year agreement with Patrick UK who with immediate effect will become our official team-wear and merchandising partner.

Patrick UK will now provide all of the Lions’ and Lionesses’ playing kit, training wear and matchday wear, as well as afull range of high-quality Patrick branded products for our supporters.

The Lions’ CEO, Steve Wild, “As a famous old club steeped in history, we think there’s a definite symmetry in partnering with such a well-known brand within the public consciousness as Patrick. In fact I well remember wearing their boots back in my Sunday League days almost 40 years ago!

“At each step in our negotiations we have been impressed with Patrick’s attention to detail and willingness to engage with our specific business needs at this moment in time. We have already worked together closely on our 2024 kit designs, and our coaching staff have been impressed with the standard of training wear that our players will shortly be wearing.

Our fans have always been proud to wear Swinton Lions branded gear, and I’ve no doubt they will be impressed with Patrick products once sales go live shortly.

We have major ambitions to grow the Lions brand right across Greater Manchester, and we know that Patrick UK will be with us at every step of the way.

Gary and Steve Dixon, owners of the Patrick brand, said, We’re thrilled to be working with Swinton Lions RLFC and further extend our portfolio of clubs in Rugby League. We look forward to seeing the players and fans donning their new Patrick kits soon.”

John Carden, MD of Sports Hub Group which owns a long term licence with the Patrick UK brand, added, This is a very proud moment, not just for the ever-growing Patrick brand, but further cementing our status back within Rugby League. We’re delighted to welcome Swinton Lions into the Patrick family and look forward to a positive future together.”

A brief history of Patrick

The Patrick story started in 1892 when Eugene Beneteau opened his shoe and leather factory in a small town in France. In the 1920s, his son Patrice took over and made shoes for his local football team. Patrice did such a fantastic job that word soon spread to other teams, and the Patrick brand was born.

The national rugby monitor for Patrick France was Robert Poulain, who tested the functionality and durability of Patrick’s rugby collection. For years, he was the reference for quality footwear in rugby. He helped to develop a line of Poulain junior and senior footwear and elevated the game through research and progressive adjustments to these shoes.

We enjoyed creating iconic rugby kits for the rugby league division. We are delighted to announce today that we’re re-entering the rugby league universe with the ambition to partner with like-minded, forward-thinking clubs like Swinton Lions and to create future iconic kits.


Lions confirm coaching and backroom team

Head Coach Alan Kilshaw brings in Darren Abram, Paul Anderson and Miles Greenwood

Ahead of our return to training this coming Thursday, we can now confirm the make-up of our new Head Coach Alan Kilshaw’s coaching and back-room team.

Appointed in the roles of Assistant Coach are Darren Abram and Paul Anderson, whilst Miles Greenwood joins us in the capacity of Head of Strength and Conditioning.

We are also extremely pleased to confirm that our fantastic pre-existing medical team, including physiotherapists Rachael Johnson and Sasha Cooke, together with doctors Joe Arthur and Ben Stride will remain in place. The legendary Norman Brown also remains as an invaluable member of our back-room staff, as does our kit man Chris Gettins. A special mention also for Dougie Owen, who will combine duties assisting both our first team in an S&C role, together with our Foundation, for which he is Head of Youth Development.

Stephen Johnson will continue in his multi-faceted role which assists the media team as well as the Board and coaching staff, and young Lewis Hart will stay on in a masseur role.


New appointees

Darren Abram – Assistant Coach

Darren had an extensive playing career, most notably with Rochdale, Oldham and Lancashire Lynx, but he also played a single game for the Lions back in season 1987/88. As a coach he won the National League Grand Final with Leigh Centurions, and was also in charge at Rochdale for a spell. He is the father of the Lions’ full-back, Dan Abram.

Upon his appointment Darren said, “I was honoured when Alan asked me to be a member of his coaching staff at the Lions. I have known Alan for many years, and in fact I actually coached him at Leigh Academy in one of my first coaching roles in the professional game. Alan has since developed into one of the game’s best young coaches, and lives and breathes rugby league. I have also seen over the past couple of seasons how passionate and hard working the Swinton Board, fans and sponsors are. With this continued passion from the directors, coaching staff, players, sponsors and fans we will be a united club, supporting each other, along what we hope will be a successful journey.”

Alan Kilshaw said of Darren, “Darren is someone who I have worked with informally for a few seasons now. He has been a valued mentor to me and always a great person to bounce ideas off. As soon as I accepted the Swinton job he was the first phone call I made as it was important for me to have someone of his knowledge and experience on board with me. He is very good both technically and tactically, and knows the competition inside out having coached at this level for a number of years. He also had a stint in Super League after getting Leigh promoted in a part-time environment. Obviously there is a family connection with Dan in the squad, so hopefully we can have a similar success to that enjoyed by the Clearys and the Lams!”


Paul Anderson – Assistant Coach

Also joining the club in an Assistant Coach capacity is Paul Anderson. Paul enjoyed an long playing career which began in 1995 with St Helens. After playing nearly 50 games for the Saints he then enjoyed success with his hometown club Leigh, for whom he played over 100 times as a forward between 1999 and 2002. He also had spells with Sheffield Eagles, Oldham, Rochdale and Blackpool Panthers. After his playing days ended, he then undertook an extensive coaching career with Leigh.

Following his appointment, Paul said, “I’m really looking forward to the 2024 season and working with the squad, staff and Board at Swinton Lions. It’s a club which is steeped in history and I believe there are exciting times ahead. Hopefully we can play a part in growing the fan base at this great club through our effort and performances on the field. I can’t wait to get started!”

Alan Kilshaw explained Paul’s credentials. He said “Paul is someone we identified after looking for someone who can come in and lead on our defence. He has held roles at Leigh and comes with some really good references. Myself and Darren went to meet him and it quickly became apparent that we were all connected on how we want the team to train and play. For me, it’s important to get people in who have been at different clubs and in different environments so we can all learn off each other. His experience and bringing that knowledge to Swinton can only have a positive impact on the club as a whole. He has recently had a small break away from coaching to develop in his role in education and to assist in the development of his son who is at St Helens academy, but he is now ready to get back into a role which is perfect timing for us.”

Miles Greenwood – Head of Strength and Conditioning (S&C)

During his playing career as a full-back or winger, Miles was a prolific scorer of tries at Halifax, Batley and his hometown club, Oldham. At the end of his playing days, Miles then set out to establish himself as a highly respected professional in the field of strength and conditioning.

After joining the Lions, Miles said, “I can’t wait to get started with the lads! The team that Alan has assembled has an exciting mix of experience and youth and I think we can challenge teams and cause some upsets. But it’s going to be tough, and we all know how competitive the league is. However it’s a challenge that the coaching staff and players are more than up for.”

Alan Kilshaw added, “I have worked with Miles previously at Rochdale and last season at Hunslet. Miles is excellent at what he does. He gets the group fit and strong and challenges them, but he also makes it highly enjoyable which is a huge part of training at semi-professional level. He gives players ownership for their own progress after setting initial standards which they all follow. I am really happy to bring Miles to the club as I know we have had some really good results together in the past with the groups we have worked with, and I’m confident we can continue that trend at Swinton.”


Joe Purcell becomes a Lion!

Ex-Cornwall standout Joe to cover variety of back positions

We are delighted to announce the signing of Joe Purcell, who will give us added strength and options in the halves as well as at full-back.

The 24 year-old from Lowton started his career with Halton Hornets, from where he progressed to the Widnes Vikings development programme and then the Wigan Warriors under 19s team.

Upon the formation of Cornwall RLFC in late 2021, Joe made history by becoming the new club’s very first signing. He then went on to become The Chough’s standout player in their tough inaugural season.

Swinton Lions Head Coach, Alan Kilshaw, said, “Joe had a really good breakout season for Cornwall in 2022 which caught my attention. He can play full-back or half-back and has lots of development in front of him. We feel that in our environment he can really progress and reach his potential.”


Welsh International Rhys Williams a major coup for Lions!

Another huge signing for Swinton!

We are thrilled to announce the signing of the highly experienced Welsh international outside-back, Rhys Williams, on a two-year contract!

Rhys began his career in Super League with Warrington Wolves, during which time he played 16 games on DR with the Lions in 2013 when he notched up nine tries. Following a spell in Australia with Central Queensland Capras, he returned to star with London Broncos during the period 2015 to 2019. Whilst in the capital, Rhys scored an impressive century of tries.

For the past four years Rhys has been with Salford Red Devils, with whom he made in excess of 50 appearances and scored another 18 tries.

His 33 caps for Wales makes him one of the most honoured players ever to pull on the Red jersey, and a return off 22 tries for his country represents an impressive international strike rate.

Rhys is now 33 years old, but remains at the peak of physical fitness, and his experience and leadership skills will be of enormous benefit to our upcoming 2024 Championship campaign.

Lions’ Head Coach, Alan Kilshaw, said of this latest high profile signing, “Rhys brings with him a number of key components including leadership qualities and experience, which not only includes World Cups, Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Finals, but he’s also featured in the Championship for the London Broncos so therefore knows the competition well. Rhys is fast and strong, and is very good coming out of defence with yardage. He also knows where the try line is and can finish! There’s no doubt that everyone is very excited to have him at the Lions for the next two seasons.”


IMG Ranking Revealed – Club Reaction

Forward momentum on the field must be accompanied by commercial success and sustained off-field growth

Our fans will no doubt have seen the RFL release earlier today which details the indicative points for all member RL clubs under the new IMG grading system. As can be seen, Swinton Lions has earned 7.21 points to achieve an overall rank of 26th and a “C” club rating.

If this rank of 26th was translated into a league position, this would of course represent the bottom end of the Championship, which, to be fair, is a reasonable reflection of where we have been operating on the field, on average, over the last 3 years.

What is important to remember, however, is that these rankings and IMG points scoring have no bearing on our prevailing actual league position, and they only really become of vital importance to those clubs seeking to sustain their Super League status (“A” grading), or to achieve Super League status (“A” grading, or high ranked “B” grading). For Swinton, whilst it provides us with a medium to long-term target, it’s nevertheless a little way down the road just at today’s date, so our advice to fans in the meantime is try not to be too distracted by IMG points and gradings.

That said, here is a quick re-cap for those of you who have tried to understand the methodology of the IMG points scoring system, for which a maximum of 20 points are available. These 20 points are broken down into different pillars. Those pillars are Fandom (5 points maximum); Performance (5 points maximum); Finances (4.5 points maximum); Stadium (3 points maximum); Community (2.5 points maximum). Within each pillar, there are then a number of sub-pillars, and accompanying the whole system there are clear guidelines on how points are attained or not attained.

Yes, admittedly it is complicated, but what this system also provides are clear outlines on how clubs can improve their overall infrastructure (in terms of the importance of increasing support, improving their stadiums, improving their finances and sustainability, and improving their off-field development efforts). From a Swinton Lions perspective, we have no issue with being given indicators on how to improve ourselves as a club. Indeed we are already aware of one relatively straightforward fix, which we hope to resolve within the next two weeks, and which will improve our IMG score to about 7.5 points and make us a borderline “B” ranked club.

However, please be rest assured that our prime objective will always be the team on the field and success for the Lions, and the fact that we have won promotion from League 1 and then finished 10th in the most competitive Championship ever, is demonstrable proof of this. In fact on the field we are arguably ahead of schedule. BUT we must also recognise that if we are to achieve further forward momentum as a club, this on-field progress is only sustainable if it is accompanied by similar commercial and off-field development success.

The challenge for the Board is therefore simple. We must grow the club across this whole spectrum of objectives as outlined by the pillars described above. Our crowds need to increase, our social media engagement needs to attract greater numbers, and our commercial revenue must increase. The ongoing commitment of a growing fan base is an integral part of this process.


Mikey Wood – a major capture for the Lions!

Former Sheffield and Bradford star joins Swinton!

The signing of the 6 foot versatile forward Mikey Wood represents a significant capture for the Lions and we are thrilled to welcome him to Swinton on a two-year contract!

Mikey originally hails from Huddersfield and is now 27 years old. He signed for his local club the Giants in 2016, and whilst biding his time there enjoyed successful loan periods at Newcastle Thunder and Bradford Bulls. He signed on a permanent basis for the Bulls in 2019 and went on to make over 50 appearances for the Odsal club. After another loan period in the Championship with Newcastle Thunder, he arrived at Sheffield in 2022 and has since had two outstanding seasons as the Eagles battled towards the top end of the Championship.

Swinton Head Coach Alan KIlshaw said, “Mikey’s capture not only shows our intent as a club, but it also demonstrates how attractive playing for Swinton Lions has become. Mikey has been a regular in a top end championship side this season with Sheffield Eagles and was well sought after by a number of clubs. I have worked with Mikey before although only for a short period, and was impressed with his technical ability and his game smartness. He is a good size and a very good ball playing middle at 13 or front-row and can also do a very good job as an edge back-rower. We are delighted to have him at the Lions for the next two seasons.”


Spencer-Tonks to boost Lions’ forward line!

Daniel Spencer-Tonks makes Championship switch and looks to re-ignite career

Our latest signing is the 28-years old Gloucester-born forward, Daniel Spencer-Tonks.

Daniel was with Whitehaven last season, having come through a Super League environment with Salford Red Devils previously. He is a big forward with good feet, and a real handful in both attack and defence.

Lions’ Head Coach, Alan Kilshaw, said, “Daniel will complement our other middles with his tough carrying of the ball and his aggressive defence. He had an outstanding season at Whitehaven and also featured with a Super League club previously. He has some real lived-in experience, suffering some significant highs and lows in his career, as well as overcoming a life-threatening car crash. I believe this represents strength of character and shows demonstrably how he can overcome adversity. Daniel is someone who I’m really looking forward to helping shape the next chapter of his Rugby League journey.”


Dec Patton is key business for Lions!

Super League experienced half-back joins Swinton!

At Swinton Lions we are thrilled to confirm the signing of the former Super League half-back, Declan Patton.

Dec made over 100 appearances for his home-town club Warrington Wolves between 2015 and 2020, during which time he both won and lost Challenge Cup finals, and appeared in two Super League Grand Finals at Old Trafford. Indeed Dec scored the Wolves’ only try in their 12-6 defeat to Wigan in the 2016 final. Dec then played a year with Salford Red Devils in 2021, before signing for Bradford Bulls where he has spent the last two seasons.

On the international front, Declan toured Papua New Guinea with the England Knights in 2018.

An accomplished goal-kicker as well as renowned organiser from half-back, Dec is still only 28 years of age and his experience will hopefully prove invaluable to the Lions.

The club would like to thank the members of PrideBuilder for playing a key role in Dec’s arrival at Swinton, and we would urge all supporters to consider joining the scheme. PrideBuilder makes a significant impact to our recruitment capabilities.

Lions’ Head Coach Alan Kilshaw said, “Dec’s signing is a huge coup for Swinton Lions and a key piece of business for the club. He is an experienced half-back who potentially still has his best football ahead of him. Dec has won a Challenge Cup Final and played in two Grand Final at Old Trafford. He has a tremendous kicking game and has been a stand out performer at Championship level for the Bradford Bulls. We can’t wait to see him at the Lions next season!”


Lions land fans’ favourite Jack Houghton!

Former Crusaders forward set to be a big hit at Swinton!

We are delighted to announce that forward Jack Houghton has signed for the Lions ahead of the 2024 season.

Jack is 26 years old and emerged through the Widnes Academy system, before entering the professional game with North Wales Crusaders. In 2023 he was arguably Cru’s stand out player, and emerged as something of a cult hero as the Welsh club stormed to the League 1 Play-Off Final. We are sure that Swinton fans will also take Jack to heart as the new season unfolds!”

Lions’ Head Coach Alan Kilshaw said, “Jack has been a real fans’ favourite at North Wales Crusaders and his performances this season have gained a lot of attention from other clubs. We are therefore delighted he has joined the Lions and we are very confident he can take his game to new heights with the environment and support he will have at our club. He’s a big unit and carries the ball really well and defends tough, and we are sure he can develop these qualities further in a Swinton shirt next season.”

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