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28 May 2020

Swinton Lions and the Lions Foundation launch a Community Club Partnership Program with Folly Lane ARLFC.

Swinton Lions and the Lions Foundation are delighted to announce that a formal community partnership has been agreed with the Swinton & Pendlebury based club, Folly Lane ARLFC. 

We are sure that this announcement will be welcomed by both Lions and Folly connections, given that there are numerous links between these historic organisations dating back to the late 1940s. Since Folly’s formative days, a great many famous names have worn the colours of both clubs, adding strength to the ties between the two clubs.

Whilst naturally it is envisaged that the agreement will provide future player pathway opportunities, this will not be the only aspect of the relationship. As has been outlined in a previous release, the concept of the Swinton Lions community club partnership program is also linked to Governance and Operational Management support; Coaching CPD and Training Opportunities; and assisting Resource Support and Equipment.

Director of Development, Damian Ridpath, explained, “This is the second partnership for the club following our partnership with Belfast Eagles, it is really important to Swinton Lions and the Lions Foundation that we support the community game in both our traditional catchment area, and areas that would be classed as non-traditional for Rugby League.

“I am really pleased to announce Folly Lane to this program, Folly are located with our historical catchment area of Swinton and Pendlebury and it was really important to the club following on from our innovative partnership with Belfast Eagles to bring Folly into our Swinton family.

“Historically there have been many links between the clubs, however this is the first formal arrangement to be put in place. I am looking forward to working with Gary and the team to support Folly Lane and assist the club in a range of areas.

“We can confirm that we have an outline agreement for our Lionesses to  use Folly’s facilities for training and playing games at , which will be great to have one of the Lions teams playing play home fixtures within our historical boundary.”

Steve Wild, the Lions’ Operations Director, added, ““When I first sat down with Damian to start mapping out a community and development strategy, I stressed to him how potentially important was the link between the Lions and Folly, and I’m therefore thrilled that the talks with Folly headed up by Damian on behalf of the Lions have progressed so well.

“Although historically I have a vested and emotional interest because my dad was the original captain of Folly back in 1946, my main thoughts are now concerned with how important our two clubs could be for each other moving forwards.

“I’ve said a number of times in recent months that we must grow our club and brand, and this includes being seen to be putting something into the wider sport, and encouraging young people to become involved at whatever level within their interests and capabilities.

“We recognise that a strong Folly Lane can only be good for rugby league in the greater Manchester area, and that in itself can only be good for Swinton Lions. This renewed relationship therefore represents another step in the right direction.”

Folly Lane product Will Hope is the current vice captain and first team star for Swinton

Lions’ Head Coach Stuart Littler, also welcomed the news. He said, “It’s outstanding news that we have been able to re-establish a strong partnership with one of our key local community clubs. Folly Lane produced our current vice captain and first team star Will Hope and have developed numerous other professional players throughout the leagues.

“This partnership will allow us to have a meaningful impact within our local community as well as allowing players a potential pathway into the professional environment. This relationship is a partnership and is one that we intend both clubs to prosper and develop from.

“I am looking forward to seeing an influx of Folly youngsters at Lions games in the future. I have always been a believer that the kids are the future and we need to nurture and build those relationships in order for Swinton Lions to be here in another 150 years.”

Speaking on behalf of Folly Lane, chairman Frank Hope said, “Following recent discussions between ourselves and Swinton, we are really pleased to be able to renew our links with the Lions – links that go back to the late 1940s. We have a proud reputation for producing players who have progressed to the professional ranks over the years, including many of course to Swinton Lions.

“Hopefully both clubs can benefit from the partnership as outlined, and we can also look forward to hosting the Swinton Lionesses next season if all goes to plan. Another exciting possibility will be the chance to link up with another Lions’ partner, Belfast Eagles, with the opportunity to organise reciprocal tours across the Irish Sea.

“With genuine Lions supporters running the club we feel the time is right to trust their intentions and move forward together.”


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