The Huddersfield-based British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

A number of events will be announced during this year’s celebration but BARLA kicked off its half-century when they agreed an undisclosed five figure donation to the Rugby Football League for headcams for match officials to wear when officiating amateur games throughout the winter and summer seasons.  

On March 4 1973 all district leagues were invited to a meeting at Greenside Working Men’s Club in Huddersfield as it was felt the governing body, the RFL, was not doing enough for the amateur game.

The drivers of the meeting were Tom Keaveney MBE and Jack Clayton who held positions within the Huddersfield District League at that time, and at the meeting those present voted to break away from the RFL.

The following month the RFL at its council meeting voted 29-1 against recognising BARLA, with only Workington Town’s Tom Mitchell, who later became BARLA’s first Patron, voting in favour of the new organisation.

Within 12 months following a change of RFL secretary to the late David Oxley, there was an about turn and a unanimous vote of approval and recognition of BARLA for it to run the amateur game.

Alan Parker, treasurer of Hull & District Youth League, and Lol Rawson, chair of the Open Age Hull & District League, are the only individuals who are still alive who attended that meeting.

Mr Parker said: “Congratulations to BARLA on reaching their 50th anniversary and for what they have achieved over those years. BARLA was formed because it was felt by those present, of which I was one, that those running the amateur game were not doing enough for it and at that meeting it was agreed to break away.”  

Sue Taylor, BARLA chair and vice-president of the RFL, said: “I have been involved in amateur rugby for the majority of my life and knew Tom Keaveney and his wife Moira.

“I am honoured to have been chair of BARLA for the last 10 years in which time I have built bridges and solid foundations through trust and honour in gaining respect and working with the governing body the RFL.

“We are launching our 50th anniversary logo and we have other plans to come to celebrate BARLA’s 50th anniversary. These will be announced in due course which will be for the good and benefit of the game.”