The Rugby League Heritage Centre, was opened yesterday by three men who encapsulate much of the game's history and who hold many of its records - Billy Boston, Mick Sullivan and Neil Fox. The joints might creak a little more these days, but there was a spring in the trio's steps as they officiated at the unveiling of the game's shrine.
"It's nice to be remembered," said Boston, who scored more tries than any other British player during his legendary career with Wigan. "But what it reminds me of is all the great players I met when I came up from Wales and came into the game. It brings back a lot of memories."
Fox, the scorer of more points than any other player, was equally affected by what he described as a long overdue development. "It has taken a long, long time to find a home for the game's history and it's fitting that it should be here where rugby league started," he said.
The display, which occupies several rooms of the Victorian hotel and opens to the public this Saturday, is the brainchild of the former Dewsbury and Great Britain hooker and Sky TV pundit, Mike Stephenson. His own collection of memorabilia, which he once took around Australia by train, forms the basis of the centre, and is already acting as a magnet for other material.
"I've got box after box of stuff, including more than 400 pictures. I just wanted to feel happy that I was bringing it home to the right place and I get a buzz every time I come in this joint," he said.
Stephenson found allies in Gillette, who have sponsored the venture, and the hotel's new owner, Umesh Ummat. "He admitted he didn't know anything about rugby league, but when I suggested it to him, it took him about 10 minutes to say, "Right, let's do it'."
Stephenson also believes he had some inspiration from the game's heroes when he was battling against the clock to get everything ready on time. "It would be stupid to start talking about ghosts, but it felt as though I was getting some help. There was a great, old player called Trevor Foster who died recently and would have loved to be here today. When I was trying to get it all ready, I felt that he was there and that I wasn't on my own."
o Hull are signing the Kiwi stand-off or back row Sione Faumuina until the end of the season.