Planning is well underway for the Garry Purdham Memorial game to take place at the Recreation Ground, Whitehaven, on Sunday 3rd October, kick off 3:00 pm. Cumbria will entertain Steve McNamara’s England side in one of the highest profile games to take place in Cumbria for years. Proceeds from the match will go to the young family of Garry Purdham, who so tragically lost his life in June. The late back-rower’s three former clubs, Egremont Rangers, Whitehaven and Workington Town, have formed a committee to organise the match after receiving the initial support of the RFL in arranging the fixture.
The Cumbrian team is certain to be one of the strongest ever selected. Team Manager Mark Fryer explained “It goes without saying the background surrounding the game is the driver for an amazing response from both locally based players and the Cumbrian Players playing in Super League. It is true to say that injuries and participation in the Grand Final, which takes place the evening before, will be the only barriers to fielding the best Cumbrian side possible, something we’ve always dreamed about up here”
From the fans point of view it seems the game is set to be a truly competitive affair as well as a fund raiser as England coach Steve McNamara explained, “I am delighted to bring the England team to Cumbria for this historic event. I didn’t know Garry Purdham, however I know his brother Rob pretty well. I was England’s assistant coach in the last World Cup and Rob was part of the team. It has been a big effort from everyone in Cumbria to get this game on, and we, as England, are more than happy to make as big a contribution as we can, raising as much money as possible. In terms of the game, I’m really, really pleased from an England perspective that we get the opportunity to play. The boys not involved in the Super League Grand Final will get the chance to feature. There are still places to play for ahead of the Four Nations, so there’s a whole lot on this game.”
On the pitch it’s a case of “Cumbria united” , Paul Crarey, the ex-Barrow and Whitehaven coach who coached the county sides’ last two fixtures and his assistants, David Seeds assistant coach at Whitehaven and Gary Charlton, joint coach of Workington Town, are already planning training and selection.
The Leeds Rhinos prop Kyle Amor follows fellow Cumbrians', Ewan Dowes of Hull, and Oliver Wilkes of Harlequins, in signaling his readiness to lace up his boots for the fund-raiser, The county side will be skippered by Garry’s brother Rob, the Harlequins captain.
Off the pitch the Cumbria strip for the October 3 clash has been unveiled (copy attached) and replicas can be ordered from Billy Rudd of Unique Sports in Whitehaven up until August 31st, priced at £40 for adults and £30 for children with proceeds going to the Memorial Trust. The design was chosen by Garry’s widow Roz and eldest son Cameron.
Admission to the game will be by means of a special Commemorative Programme currently in the final stages of production, details of how to purchase this programme are expected to be unveiled on or around the 25th August, alongside a website providing updates and match information.
“It is sure to be a great occasion to have the England team playing in Cumbria and one in which the whole Rugby League Community can join in” added Media Manager Dave Bowden. “The Recreation ground can accommodate in excess of 8,000 spectators and it would be wonderful to see it full of fans from all over the country who can perhaps tie the game in with a visit to the Lakes.
SPONSORS DETAILS AND QUOTES
Britain’s Energy Coast have been confirmed as the main sponsor, supported by Story Construction and LLW Repository Ltd. Th game will be known as Britain’s Energy Coast Challenge.
Dick Raaz, Whitehaven R.L Chairman and also managing director of LLWR, said: “Garry Purdham was a local hero for the people of this area and lived very near to our centre of operations in West Cumbria.
“LLWR are proud to support this major event. In honouring the memory of a man tragically cut down in his prime, we are creating an enduring positive memory for those he left behind.”
Brian Wilson, chair of Britain’s Energy Coast West Cumbria, continued: “Garry Purdham was a fine example of a brave and energetic young West Cumbrian sportsman whose dedication to his team, on the field and his family and community off it, demonstrates the qualities to which we should all aspire. “Britain’s Energy Coast is proud to be associated with an event that will celebrate his achievements in life and help his family following his tragic and untimely death.”
Fred Story, managing director of Story Group said: “We are a Cumbrian company with a track record in supporting sporting organisations, Story Homes are proud to be associated with the commemoration of an outstanding young rugby player from our county.”