Maybe it’s time London Broncos stayed on the road

Maybe it’s time London Broncos stayed on the road

It’s fair to say that when it comes to the club game, London and rugby league have never really worked out. It’s been 44 years since the Broncos started out life as Fulham R.L.F.C and there have been far more downs than ups since then.

Now in an ideal world, I would love to see multiple London clubs covering all four corners of the capital, but if we’ve not had one club establish themselves since 1980, I can’t see four of them doing it in my lifetime.

So, for now at least, the Broncos it will have to be, and it’s their job to draw fans from all over the city. In theory this should be easy. After all, they have the whole place to themselves, but there are two major issues with that.

Firstly, as anyone who’s ever lived in or around London will know, getting from A to B can take a lot longer than you might think from glancing at Google Maps, and getting across the capital can be a pain in the backside at the best of times.

Secondly, and more importantly of course, rugby league still has very little presence in the south. That’s the sad reality of things, and after more than four decades of trying, the Broncos are no closer to cracking it than they were when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.

One of the arguments that’s always put forward for London is that they ‘need to put down roots’, and to an extent I would agree with this. After all, if they can establish themselves in one area, maybe they can draw in local fans and keep them, in theory at least.

The problem with that is two-fold though. Firstly, they never stay anywhere long enough to ‘bed down’. And secondly, aside from a brief spell in the 90s, plus the odd Championship campaign, they’ve never been particularly good. And it’s hard to convince people to part with their hard-earned money to watch mediocrity.

However, what if we’ve been looking at it all wrong for years and we could just flip the whole ‘roots’ thing on its head?

What if the solution for the Broncos is to go permanently on the road?

The reason it occurred to me is because I went to the Stoop on Sunday for London’s first game there since 2013 and the place was rocking.

I followed the club all over the capital from 2007, firstly at the Stoop, then the Hive, then Ealing, but Plough Lane was just one ground too many for me. Like I said earlier, getting from A to B in London can be a nightmare, and it’s far easier and less stressful for me to head up to Yorkshire for an afternoon than it is Wimbledon.

However, as soon as I saw that the club were taking a game back to the Stoop, I knew I had to go, and judging by the crowd around me, it seemed like a lot of people had the same thought. Maybe it was nostalgia, maybe it was easier to get to, or maybe like me, it was just a bit of both.

So, what if for one season at least, the club tried taking all of their games on the road? Say, three in Wimbledon, three at the Stoop, three at the Hive, three in Ebbsfleet. Maybe the novelty factor of taking the Broncos around London and the south east is part of the appeal.

And sure, it might upset a few season ticket holders, but given that very few things have worked in the past, maybe it’s a risk worth taking.

Darren Notley

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