The 2011 season promises to be a significant milestone in Nottingham Outlaws’ short history after the club confirmed its relocation to Harvey Hadden Stadium – the former home of professional club Nottingham City RLFC.
After three years of playing Rugby League at The Bay, West Bridgford, the decision was made in the winter to find a more suitable venue for the Outlaws with the club expanding every year.
And Outlaws’ chairman Richard Johnson believes that the move to the stadium will provide a substantial boost to the club and makes the future of the sport in Nottingham look very bright indeed.
He said: “Whilst we very much enjoyed our short tenure at Lady Bay and are very grateful to Nottingham Boots Corsairs for hosting us, it’s fair to say that we simply out-grew the venue and a move to a larger stadium became imperative if we were to continue to grow and thrive as a club.
“It is more than 15 years since Harvey Hadden last staged Rugby League matches but it has always held a special place in the local Rugby League scene and it is fitting that the game is set to return to one of its spiritual homes in Nottingham.
“I remember standing on the terracing at Harvey Hadden along with 2,000 other supporters watching the likes of Jonathan Davies play for Widnes against Nottingham City.
“Who knows, perhaps one day we might see the Outlaws playing top teams again in this iconic venue!”
Competing in the Rugby League Championship lower divisions, Nottingham City were born after Mansfield Marksman RLFC were renamed following their move to Nottingham in 1989.
The team endured some tough times, and were consistently one of the league‘s basement clubs throughout their existence.
Their professional status was short-lived, as in 1993 the decision was made to reduce the size of the league by relegating the three clubs finishing at the bottom of the 3rd Division. Nottingham finished rock bottom in 1992/93, winning only one game.
On 12th April, 1993 a season’s best crowd of 851 saw the team lose out in their final league game to fellow relegation battlers Highfield 6-39, and the club’s fate was sealed.
The stadium has played host to some of the game’s most famous clubs, including a record crowd of 2,545 witnessing a 2nd Division game against Halifax in 1990 and a visit from the then World Club Champions Widnes for a Regal Trophy tie back in 1989.
The Outlaws’ Community Coach and First Team Captain George Strachan is especially excited about the move.
He said: “The move to Harvey Hadden signifies a move to fertile ground for Nottingham Outlaws to develop a Rugby League Community.
“The following schools are currently running Rugby League as part of their curriculum: Nottingham Bluecoat, Trinity Catholic, Alderman White, Bramcote Park and Hadden Park High – and they are all within 10 minutes of the Harvey Hadden Sports Complex.
“Traditionally the ‘local’ players from the areas surrounding the club’s previous homes have been students. While this is a player base we will always look to build and encourage, I expect the new breed of local player to be just that – local people who have grown up around the game and supporting Nottingham Outlaws on a Saturday.”
Councillor David Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Culture & Customers, sees the move benefiting not just the Outlaws and Harvey Hadden – but the community as well.
He said: “We’re delighted with the news confirming the Outlaws’ move to Harvey Hadden sports complex.
“Outlaws offer quality rugby coaching for both adults and children running Monday – Saturday every week which will hopefully encourage participation in rugby league in the west area.
“Harvey Hadden has a track record for hosting world class events and combined with its modern facilities, offers a choice venue for clubs to base themselves. League fixtures held within the stadium should bring in a good following. We hope Outlaws have a good season and are looking forward to working with them.”