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Club Statement - Ian Anniss

18/08/2020

It is with a heavy heart that we can announce that ex-club Director Ian Anniss has died.

Ian passed away peacefully at home on 14 August aged 71 and was a much loved husband, father, son and grandad.

He played a huge role at both the Eagles and in the development of rugby league across the city of Sheffield during his life and everyone at the club is deeply saddened by his passing.

Ian first started watching the Eagles in their debut 1984 season at Owlerton Stadium before introducing his sons Matt & Simon to rugby league before eventually buying them and his wife Marion season tickets for the 1989-90 season.

He quickly became involved the club after being encouraged by the then development officer Tim Butcher with Marion and Ian taking coaching courses and volunteering (and then coaching) at the Junior Eagles.

He remained involved as a volunteer at Junior Eagles and later Hillsborough Hawks where he was a mainstay for over 20 years, a large part of that time being chairman of the club.

Through his professional links in education he became heavily involved in SADARLDA (Sheffield and District Amateur Rugby League Association) and the Sheffield Schools Rugby League.

Ian coached the under 11’s side which became the first Sheffield side to appear at Wembley Stadium with the team playing in the schools curtain raiser before 1993 Challenge Cup final.

A founder of the Hillsborough Arena Sports Association in the 1990s he was integral in the successful National Lottery grant application that resulted in the development of Hillsborough Arena.

Following the ill-fated merger Ian was key member of the team who reformed Sheffield Eagles  and quickly became a director of the new club where his passion and drive for rugby league development continued.

During his time as director his focus of promoting community rugby league across the city continued and was down to his drive the great successes the club had over the years.

These included his involvement in securing Community Rugby League coaches for four years from 2009-2013 with Sport England as part of the RFL Strategy.

He was one of the key people in relaunching the club’s foundation and through his contacts, experience and professional links was instrumental in the Eagles building key relationships with schools, colleges and universities across the city including being a driving force behind the Sheffield Hallam Eagles who played in the Southern Conference League.

Ian continued as a director until early 2017 playing a large role as always in rugby league development and a key link with Sheffield City Council regarding the Olympic Legacy Park. He stayed in his position longer than intended to help the club through it is difficult time towards the end of 2016.

He continued to provide support and guidance to the Include Foundation and the recently formed Sheffield Rugby League Development Group.

Ian had agreed to become the new Chairman of the Foundation just a couple of months ago and it’s with extreme regret we will not see this come to fruition as we know how much work and progression would have been made with him at the helm.

A mentor and teacher to members of staff at the Eagles over the years he was a fountain of knowledge and advice for many and supported everyone with a caring and passionate drive, a true gentleman.

A huge loss for Sheffield Eagles, rugby league in the city and the sport, he will be sorely missed.

A private funeral service will be held at Hutcliffe Wood Crematorium on Thursday 3rd September with a Memorial Service for friends and family to be planned at a later date.

The family request, if wished, donations made to two charities close to Ian’s heart: Friends of Thornbridge Outdoors or St. Luke's Hospice. Donations may be sent to Wood Funeral Service, 848 Ecclesall Road, S11 8TP.