Throwback Thursday: The first Super League launch photo

James Gordon

Searching through the photo archives you often stumble across bits of gold from rugby league past.

None more so than this season launch photo from 1996, prior to the inaugural Super League campaign.

Martin Offiah holds aloft the Sky Sports Stones Super League trophy at the launch in London, and team-mate Shaun Edwards also makes the photo, presumably just because it’s Wigan.

The other 11 teams are represented by one player, and there are some notable names in there.

A young Robbie Paul represents Bradford in what was to turn out to be his break through year, captaining the Bulls to the 1996 Challenge Cup, scoring a hat-trick in the final to earn the Lance Todd Trophy.

Former Castleford coach Terry Matterson represents London Broncos, who he played for from 1995-98. He would coach the Tigers from 2005 to 2011, and coached USA a the 2013 World Cup.

Proud Warringtonian Paul Cullen represents the Wolves ahead of his last season as a player, though he would return as coach on a caretaker basis before taking the top job full-time from 2002 to 2008.

Representing Sheffield is a fresh-faced Mark Aston, then 29, and he incredibly is still with the Eagles – famously winning the 1998 Challenge Cup as the Lance Todd Trophy winner, and then being pivotal in the re-formation of the club following their ill-fated merger with Huddersfield.

Fearsome Great Britain and England prop Karl Harrison is there in Halifax colours, a team he would return to coach after spells with Salford and Batley.

Another ex-Great Britain forward, Lee Crooks, was in the twilight of his career by this photo. He would finish his career with Castleford the year after, after making more than 520 first grade appearances.

The other faces are Leeds’ Neil Harmon, Dean Busby of St Helens, Paul Topping of Oldham and Workington’s Rowland Phillips.

France international Patrick Entat is remembered for being part of that inaugural Paris Saint-Germain team – he had played in England for Hull and Leeds previous – and those trainers.