Even if you’re not a fan of rugby league there’s a good chance that you’ll recognise the man on the front cover of this month’s issue.
Mark Aston is as synonymous with Sheffield Eagles supporters as Tony Currie is to Sheffield United or David Hirst to Sheffield Wednesday fans. All are legends of their clubs, but the difference with Aston is that he continues to be the main figure at his club through their various ups and downs.
I have two main memories of Mark, I’ll come back to the first but the second was winning the Sheffield City Trust golf day at Beauchief Golf Course probably about 12 years ago. In a foursome with Mark and two Eagles players no one was going to argue when our form was rather better than our handicaps suggested!
The first was when Mark and another Eagles star, Darryl Powell, came to All Saints school to put us through our paces during a PE lesson.
It’s probably 30 years since he did that which shows the length of time he has been associated with the Eagles and also gives away that I’m getting a bit long in the tooth.
Anyway, it is fitting that he is on the front cover as we also profile how our sports teams engage with the local community.
Sports clubs cannot afford to neglect those closest to them and it’s great to hear how they inspire the next generation of talent. I have a particular affinity with Sheffield Sharks having reported on them for several local newspapers for more than a decade. I know the work they do and how seriously their players take their responsibility in showcasing the sport of basketball.
The Sharks have forged an excellent partnership with B Braun Medical, who, through their own community goals, joined forces with their neighbours in Chapeltown to deliver programmes focussed on children’s health.
Another sport which is doing great things is cricket. It’s hard not to have seen the coverage around Yorkshire County Cricket Club over the past few months but at ground level the Yorkshire Cricket Board is heavily involved in communities across the county.
In South Yorkshire the Board’s team – led by Gareth Davis – is having a big push on increasing the number of women and girls who play the sport.
Clubs are popping up around the county to cater for this growing demand and it’s a great example of showing that if you provide the means to play a sport then people will come.
I didn’t end up being a rugby league star (funnily enough), but the impact of having professionals come to my school lasted longer in my memory than the bruises on my body.