Rhinos to give heroes and fans a place of honour in new look South Stand
John Holmes made over 600 appearances for Leeds in a career that spanned two decades.
Leeds Rhinos have today revealed extensive plans to capture over a century of the club’s heritage within the newly constructed Emerald Headingley Stadium as well as giving fans the chance to have a permanent presence at the Rhinos home along with honouring one of the club’s greatest ever servants.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington revealed the ambitious plans which will culminate with a statue of John Holmes, the club’s record appearance holder, and a chance for fans to have their names incorporated into the new stand.
John Holmes remains one of the greatest players to have ever played for Leeds Rugby League having played for over two decades for his home town club. In total he made 625 appearances for the Club, a record that is unlikely to be ever broken. A Kirkstall born and bred lad, his impact and legacy is huge, and it is only fitting that a lasting memorial is erected in John’s memory at the iconic Emerald Headingley Stadium.
Sculptor Steve Winterburn will once again turn his focus to Rugby League having successfully created The Wembley Stadium Rugby League heroes statue. When completed The John Holmes Statue will be placed at the front of the Tetley’s South Stand for everyone to appreciate and remember a Rugby League icon.
The club have opened an online fundraising option for fans to help raise the £100,000 target needed to make the dream a reality. The first 625 donors to donate £100 or more will qualify for the exclusive ‘625 Club’ and the donors will receive, as recognition, a unique print of John Holmes from the 1978 Challenge Cup Final captured superbly by the acclaimed artist Barry Hudson. Fans can donate online at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/johnholmesstatue/478720 plus UK tax payers can donate even more by opting to tick the option for Gift Aid.
Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “We are really pleased with the Tetley’s South Stand development and the new modern facilities it will provide our fans, and we are equally committed to showcasing the unique Rugby history and heritage of the Stadium and its significance not only to Leeds fans, but Rugby League followers throughout the World.
“And, so we are delighted to launch the ‘Headingley Is Home’ project and develop the South Stand area for our Rugby Heritage. This will, eventually, be the starting point for a full stadium tour to include Rugby and Cricket and we want this completed by 2020 to mark the Stadium’s 130th Anniversary,” added Hetherington.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation Heritage Committee Chairman Phil Caplan added, “We are incredibly fortunate to witness the current transformation of Emerald Headingley; it comes around every four generations. If the ground has been missing one aspect, it is a statue; somewhere to congregate at, a focal point for commemoration and contemplation, a place of lasting tribute. Nor was the debate long or arduous for the heritage group to recommend who it should be of; the ultimate local although reluctant hero, the most durable and, for those who saw him at his pomp, arguably the best-ever to don the colours he so cherished; John Holmes.”
To coincide with the commissioning of the John Holmes Statue, the club have also launched the new ‘Our Blue and Amber’ project. The scheme allows fans to purchase a stone, starting from just £60, which will be positioned on the external wall of the South Stand. A stone can also be purchased as a gift and is the perfect present for any Leeds Rhinos supporter as their personalised message will be part of Emerald Headingley for years to come.
The Rhinos have teamed up with local company ‘Your Tribute’ who successfully recently completed the Bremner Square project at Leeds United’s Elland Road. Fans can find out more information by visiting www.ourblueandamber.co.uk or calling 03333 448 438.