Featherstone Lions would be forgiven for feeling a degree of déjà vu as they begin preparations for life in Conference League Two.
The Lions were originally accepted into the National Conference League for the 1996-1997 season and enjoyed much success before leaving to play in the summer-based National League Three competition in 2006.
Having played in that competition’s successor, the Rugby League Conference National, for the past five seasons they have been accepted back into the NCL just in time for its first summer-based season which kicks off in two months time.
Featherstone Lions Secretary Dick Taylor explains: “We originally left the NCL to rebuild about six years ago.
“The club had been promoted to the top division but we lost our first team coach Richard Agar who went to York City Knights and several of our players who reached the end of their careers and retired.
“We had a disappointing season with a weakened team and were relegated and we were then relegated again the following season before we withdrew from the NCL which was a sad time.
“We regrouped and were approached by the RFL to join the summer-based National League Three to compete with teams such as Bradford Dudley Hill and we won the RLC National Championship at Headingley in our second season which was a brilliant day.
“When we learnt that the NCL was switching to summer we started to look at returning; we now have Under-17s and Under-18s teams again and we are looking to slowly build and get back to where we feel we should be.
“In winter you’ve got the problems with soft ground and in summer you have harder pitches but provided you’ve got plenty of grass it’s ok.
“After the first few seasons of fielding both winter and summer teams we found that we preferred summer but the season wasn’t really long enough. I don’t miss the games in January and February but missed Rugby League in October and November.
“I’m pleased we’ll now be playing through to November in a longer season and I’m sure it will be a success. Having seen both sides of the coin once NCL clubs get a feel for going to games in shorts and T-shirts they will come to embrace it.”
Featherstone Lions are also celebrating the return to the club of Simon Child who has returned to join the open age coaching staff in preparation for the new summer season.
The Lions open age side are hoping to run two teams during the summer, one making its return to the Conference League and another in the Yorkshire Men’s League.
Pre-season training began on Wednesday January 4 at 6pm in the indoor arena and all players old and new are welcome.
Interested players can ring Simon Child on 0770 1033088 or team manager Dick Taylor on 0790 0058485.
The Lions first game will be on Saturday 4 February when they entertain Askam in t