Rugby fans baffled as ground is named after DJ
Saturday 18 November 2006
Chris Moyles is the first to admit that his rugby league credentials are none too strong. He once got a few laughs for a routine involving a mythical rugby team called Lemon Aid, and the Leeds Rhinos, from the city of his birth, have received occasional mentions on his Radio 1 show.
So imagine the bewilderment felt by fans of Featherstone Rovers rugby league club when they were told this week of the new name for their modest ground in West Yorkshire: the Chris Moyles Stadium.
For many, the announcement seemed like a practical joke, perhaps circulated by fans of old rivals Castleford - or even the ailing Leeds United football club, to whose cause Moyles is devoted. Then confirmation arrived on a Moyles website where an old image of the team was accompanied by an explanation that Rovers are "a small West Yorkshire rugby club".
It transpires that "Fev", as fans know them, have been trying for several months to find a corporate sponsor for their 6,750 capacity Post Office Road ground, previously known as the Lionheart Stadium, and having failed to attract any offers, decided to enlist someone who might spread the word about the team. Moyles's name cropped up because he hails from nearby Leeds and, in the words of the club's chief executive, Phil Young, "needs something to talk about with all that airtime to fill".
The 104-year-old club - known as the Colliers since the days when they rounded up players on Saturdays from the local pit - approached Moyles, who jumped at the idea. Rovers are not receiving a penny of the £630,000 Moyles is paid each year by the BBC for his Radio 1 show, but the team's name has been heard on the airwaves this week.
"Are you a rugby league fan?" Moyles asked one of his studio team, before revealing his new accolade to 6.8 million listeners.
Some diehard supporters are appalled. "Why not name it after someone who has done something for the club? Not a fat baffon who doesn't give a shit about us," said one fan in the Rovers chatroom this week. "We're a club with a proud tradition. I am sure that a much better name from our area could have endorsed the ground," added another.
But the positive postings comfortably outweighed the negative, especially after the appointment of Tony Smith as new joint coach at Rovers earned a mention on a sports bulletin during Moyles's show. "When was the last time you heard Fev Rovers mentioned on national radio?" added another fan. "I nearly crashed the car when I heard."
The club's other coach, David Hobbs, admitted that he was surprised to hear that his players will be performing in a stadium named after someone he knew so little of. "Some people might be saying it's a cheap deal but I think it's progress," he said.
Featherstone's management are adamant that they need to be creative as they seek to climb out of Division 2 towards the Super League. New investors have helped to attract some fresh players for the season which starts in January, and promotion to Division 1 is considered imperative. The club's last big triumph was in 1983, when they beat Hull in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
Moyles has been given an open invitation to Rovers matches next year, though they are not expecting him to be a regular visitor and he is certainly keeping his options open.
"He's obviously a massive Leeds [United] fan but he is really pleased about this," said a Radio 1 spokesman. "Maybe the Leeds United board might follow suit."
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