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Eagles Foundation Heritage Project Update

24/11/2021

The Eagles Foundation would like to thank everyone who contributed to the recent consultation to inform its Heritage Lottery Fund application. The application to the Heritage Lottery Fund has been completed and we now patiently wait further news of the submission to find out whether we will be successful and our project can begin.

The consultation, which opened on the Sheffield Eagles’ 37th birthday, 2nd September 2021, and closed at the end of September elicited 127 responses from existing and former fans, existing and former players, sponsors of the club and even those with no direct connection with the club or Rugby League from all across the country and further afield in Australia and New Zealand.

We also learned a lot about what encourages people to start watching the club, with reasons given including relatives encouraging them to attend, receiving free tickets through schools coaching, moving to or studying in Sheffield, the attraction of the whole family being able to attend and through the publicity after the Challenge Cup Final win in 1998.

As expected, many people cited the Challenge Cup Final win as their favourite Eagles memory, with other highlights including winning back to back Grand Finals in the Championship, various promotion and play-off final wins and beating Widnes in 1989 just after they were crowned World Club Champions and we learned a lot about supporters' personal memories where fans noted favourite players they had enjoyed watching, being able to watch games with family and meeting friends who have become friends for life, whilst players remembered particular highlights from games they had played in.

Respondents also told us that there is a lot of physical memorabilia which is available to be recorded such as playing shirts, programmes, press cuttings and even a 2003 League Leaders Medal!

But the one thing that resonated most from the answers received was how much the club means to its supporters, players and sponsors.

People told us that watching Sheffield Eagles is more than watching sport, its about friendship and family.

People told us about their optimism for the future and the start of the new era at the Olympic Legacy Park. Interestingly many people referenced key periods of their life being linked to games and key events and a sense of pride and belonging.

Finally, we were encouraged by how many people said they would want to be involved with the project in some way; whether that is attending one of the planned events or by playing a hands on role in the project to bring it to life.

"It was fascinating reading the responses to the consultation,” explained David Butler, Eagles Foundation Chairperson.

“We learned so much about what Sheffield Eagles means to the supporters, players and sponsors both past and present and the consultation helped us to refine some our thinking to sharpen our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

"We believe that the support received and the insight gained through the consultation will have strengthened our application and we are very grateful to all those who completed the survey. We’ll provide some updates in the future once we have heard more the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

In addition to the consultation, the project application has received written support from across Rugby League and the city, including the club’s founder Gary Hetherington, Ralph Rimmer (CEO Rugby Football League), Jon Dutton (CEO Rugby League World Cup), Chris Rostron (CEO RL Cares), Richards Caborn (Chairperson Olympic Legacy Park), Clive Betts MP, Professor Tony Collins (Rugby League Historian) and Julia Lee who has recently spearheaded a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to chart the history of the women’s game internationally.