The Tigers date back to the early 90s when Rugby
League emerged for the first time in the North East. They were based at the
cricket club in Langley Moor and established a reputation as the leading club in
the area representing the North East League in the Challenge Cup. The team was
formed by the legendry Steve Rich who's son Pat went on to play professionally.
The Tigers formed a superb junior section which again carried all before
them. Many of the lads playing for the Tigers went on to join the professional
academy side called Gateshead Mets which played at Gateshead Stadium. Amongst
the lads going into the Mets were Neil Minto and Rob Jones who both coach
or have coached at the Tigers. The Mets eventually ended when Super League came
to Gateshead when Gateshead Thunder was formed.
The end of the first part of the Tigers story ended when adult Rugby League moved to the summer. Since the Tigers were located at a cricket ground they could not play in the summer. Without the backing of adult rugby the junior section failed to flourish.
The game in the area was revived when Lisa Jaggar was Rugby League North East regional development officer. She asked Gareth Barron and Phil Selby to form a senior side to go into the North Eat Summer Conference which was part of the very successful attempt to spread the game to all parts of Great Britain and the Irish Republic.
Whlist the Conference was a great success Durham Phoenix as the side was called was not. Eventually the side was rescued when Rob Jones gt players from Gateshead Storm to help us out.
The break through for senior Rugby League came about when the then Chair, James Heslington talked to one of the people he worked with who happened to be on the committee of Bishop Auckland Rugby Union Club. It was suggested that a move to West Mills would be beneficial to both Clubs.
This proved to be the case. Under the coaching talent of John Coutts, with an influx of players from the Union Club plus some talented players from Consett Rugby Union Club the team flourished. John's younger brother Steve made the trip from Yorkshire to play weekly and brought some experienced and very able League players with him. The Tigers went on to become league champions and went into the national play -offs only to lose to Wetherby.
Junior development then became the issue. A school holidays coaching course was organised which was a great success. It was aimed at under 12 players. Several of the current under 18s squad came along at that time. The team was very poor and lot most games by a lot. However as time progressed they improved and started to win more games than they lost. Eventually they became one of the top teams in our area. However since competion was limited in the North East the decision was made to apply for membership of the Yorkshire League at under 16 level. This was a shot in the dark and would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors and the fund raising skills of Joe Smith.
The North East Rugby League went on to introduce teams at younger age group and hence other sides were formed. They include our current under 16 side which under the guidance of Rob and Vaughanl is now going in the same direction as the older lads. They have made great progress in recent months and now are one of the strongest sides in the region.
The under 14 side is doing very well with excellent support from Mark Sowerby and Steve Middlemas. They were undefeated throughout the last season winning the "nines" competition and both the Cup and League. They are looking to maintain this success in 2011.
The current under 12 side is about to play it's first season of 13 a side Rugby League. The side is coached by Tom, Andy and Jason and looks well placed to match the achievements of the current under 14s.
We are at present putting together our new under 10s
side under the guidance of Matthew and Mark. They will take part in the North
East League festivals throughout the summer
Our failure has been with the open age side. Following our success Rob Jones approached us to ask if we would object to John Coutts going to coach Storm. We agreed since it was in John's interest and a couple of leading players went with him. The Yorkshire players stopped playing for us when a Yorkshire Summer Conference was formed. Results were poor and the team folded after a humiliating defeat by Jarrow. Following on from this the Club Committee decided to concentrate on junior development.
However we now have links with the Durham City based
Durham Demons and this has resulted in many of our players going on to play
for them. This is a partnership we will build on in 2011 and a new open age side
will probably be introduced in the summer of 2012.
The Club had plans for upgrading the facilities at Bishop Auckland in partnership with our then "colleagues" at Bishop Auckland Rugby Union Club. In order to obtain funding for the project from Sports England Club Mark status is needed and we duly acquired it.
Plans were drawn up to sign a long term lease with the Union Club and that was how things stood until 8p.m. on Wednesday 22nd July 2009 when we were told we were no longer welcome at Bishop Auckland.
At the start of the 2009 Yorkshire Youth League in September the Club found a temporary home at St. John's School in Bishop Auckland which was most welcome and for which we are grateful. However the opportunity arose to move yet again, this time to Shildon Sunydale Leisure Centre.
After much debate and unease the Club made the decision to move - a decision which we do not regrete.
We have been most warmly welcomed by the Centre staff who have been more than helpful.
We now have a new pitch in the stadium at Sunnydale which will give us a facility better than any other club in the North East and certainly better than we had at Bishop Auckland Rugby Club.
We intend to put down roots in Shildon and develop into a community club to rival the best in the country.
However we maintain strong links with Bishop Auckland but now intend to become the focus of Rugby League throughout south west Durham including Newton Aycliffe and Darlington.