Stephen Ball and Clare Morrow have been added to the Rugby Football League’s Roll of Honour in recognition of their outstanding service to the game.
The Roll of Honour was introduced in 2003, to recognise exceptional off-field contributions and complement the Hall of Fame for on-field performance, and these additions take the membership of this esteemed club to 37.
Stephen Ball has had a lifelong involvement in the game, which included spells as chairman of Hunslet, chief executive of Hull FC, and as a director of both the RFL and Leeds Rhinos, although the club with which he is most strongly associated is probably Batley, after a long spell as their chief executive.
But since 2006 he has been a driving force behind the development of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund – which has offered such invaluable support to so many players and their families when affected by tragedy.
He took over as General Manager within a year. Since then he has directed the Benevolent Fund’s response to such tragedies as the double loss which hit the Wakefield Trinity club in 2008, with the deaths of Adam Watene and Leon Walker; Rugby League’s tragic link to the Cumbrian shootings in 2010, in which Garry Purdham was one of the victims; and in 2015, the loss of Danny Jones.
The citation for Ball’s nomination to the Roll of Honour reads: “In that role, Steve has proved a natural in being able to offer help of both pastoral and practical nature without being intrusive – and as a result, being treated as almost a member of the grieving families.
“Fund-raising is a key function of the Benevolent Fund, with six-figure sums raised, and Steve has been heavily involved in that. But he has also become regarded and recognised as a friend, counsellor and shoulder to cry on, as well as being able to offer practical assistance. From organising funerals, church services, representing families at inquests etc, quite simply, he is totally trusted by all those people that The Benevolent Fund supports.
“He has worked especially closely with Lizzie Jones and her family, helping to set up and administer The Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund. In turn, Lizzie has become an Ambassador of the Benevolent Fund and massive supporter of the game itself.
“The Benevolent Fund is lauded by everybody involved in Rugby League, a tribute in itself to Steve’s work with the charity.”
Clare Morrow was a trail-blazer when she joined the RFL Board in October 2008 – the first woman to be appointed to the Board of any of the major football codes in this country.
She was superbly qualified, having spent 15 years working for ITV and subsequently heading up the Welcome to Yorkshire Board, therefore bringing a wealth of media experience and expertise.
She made such an impact that she served the maximum of three terms before standing down late last year.
Her citation reads: “Clare made an outstanding contribution to the sport, serving three terms as a Board member and overseeing some of Rugby League’s most significant developments.
“Principled, combative and fair-minded, Clare was an outstanding Rugby League Board member. She was a tough negotiator and a great advocate for all levels of our sport.
“Clare also made it her business to watch the sport at every level. She spent the late autumn of 2017 travelling across Australia and New Zealand watching the Rugby League World Cup.
“A great colleague and companion, Clare made a significant contribution to the sport in a quiet and dignified way.”
The presentation was made on Thursday at Red Hall jointly by Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the RFL, and Tim Adams MBE, chair of the RFL Benevolent Fund – who joined the Roll of Honour himself in 2013.
RFL Roll of Honour
Frank Myler (2003)
Tommy Sale, Johnny Whiteley MBE (2004)
Harold Swift MBE, Bev Risman, Maurice Oldroyd (2005)
Tony Gartland, Douglas Hird, Stan Wall (2007)
Hilda Hardy, Ray French, Mike Stephenson (2008)
Peter Fox, Fred Lindop MBE, Ron Earnshaw, Vic Wakeling (2009)
Neville Smith (2010)
Martin Coyd OBE, June Kennedy, Raymond Fletcher (2011)
Andrew Cudbertson, Ron England, Mike Nicholas, Jackie Reid MBE, Ray Unsworth (2012)
Tim Adams MBE, HH Judge James Spencer (2013)
Natalie Gilmour MBE, Ron Girvin, Keith Burhouse (2014)
Martin Blondel, Dave Hadfield, Robert W Stott, Eddie Hemmings (2015)
Gary Haigh (2016)
Stephen Ball, Clare Morrow (2018)