Gateshead Thunder made history last Sunday beating Doncaster in the 4th Round of the Challenge Cup to make it to the 5th round for the first time in the club’s history. Thunder now makes a little bit more history with the first professional rugby league match to be staged in County Durham.
Gateshead International Stadium, Thunder’s usual home venue, is unavailable that weekend with the football playoff final provisionally booked for the Friday night and Saturday and Sunday booked out with an athletics meeting. Thunder therefore took the decision to take the match to another part of the region.
Rod Findlay, Chief Executive Officer at Gateshead Thunder, said:
“Gateshead Thunder has always been a rugby league club for the North East and not just Tyneside. Our home is currently Gateshead and we have played matches in Newcastle. However, when it was clear that Gateshead International Stadium was unavailable, it made sense to take the game on the road to Darlington.
Thunder do a lot of community work throughout the North East, with a Community Sports Coach based in the Durham area and activity also taking place on Teesside. This is one of the most important matches in the club’s history and we are delighted that we have been able to secure a venue as prestigious as the Doncaster Arena.”
Roland Richardson, General Manager at Darlington Football Club and the Darlington Arena said:
“Darlington Arena and Darlington Football Club are delighted to develop a partnership with a successful Gateshead Thunder and to host one of their home games at the Darlington Arena. The stadium is state of the art and we are confident that we can stage a first class event in such an historic competition as rugby league’s Challenge Cup. It would be great if Thunder made it to the final at Wembley and if Darlington Arena and Football Club had played its part in that. “
“I know the people of Darlington will appreciate Thunder coming to their own stadium and this shows that Thunder are truly the rugby league club for everyone in the North East.”
Thunder Head Coach, Chris Hood, added: “This 5th round tie is a massive match for Thunder with the Quarter Finals beckoning if we beat Oldham. It is important that the venue for the tie is at a top quality venue for the players and fans alike. I am really pleased that Darlington Arena and Darlington Football Club have agreed to help us out and I know the players will be looking forward to playing in such a great stadium.
“I have been with Thunder since the start in one guise or another and Thunder has always been about the whole of the North East. I know most of our usual fans will make the short trip to Darlington. I am sure that the Darlington sports fans will take Thunder to their hearts and give us great support to give the players a lift in their bid to reach the Quarter Finals.”
The match will be played at 3pm on Saturday 9 May 2009.