St Helens prop Kyle Amor sad at missed chance for Cumbria rugby league
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 04/07/19 12:46pm
Kyle Amor is concerned about what the future holds for rugby league in his home county of Cumbria following the decision to reject plans for a new stadium in Workington.
Last week saw Allerdale Council vote down plans for an 8,000-capacity venue which would have been shared by Workington Town and Workington AFC, and included office space for 300 workers from the nearby Sellafield nuclear reprocessing facility plus space for the NHS and a pharmacy.
The new ground was the cornerstone of the area's bid to host games at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which now looks unlikely unless there is a reprieve for the £29m development.
If you agree can you help by Re-Tweeting this?!— Kyle Amor (@kylejamor87) July 1, 2019
Hope to make enough noise to ask if there’s any way the powers that be at @allerdale could rethink, because this chance won’t come around again and I believe its too big to ignore!!
Thanks 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/qUHC7hz2UD
St Helens prop Amor, who hails from nearby Whitehaven, received plenty of support after taking to Twitter to express his disappointment over the decision, and believes it is another missed opportunity for one of the sport's heartlands and the county in general.
"I just thought I'd put something out there and hopefully it will generate a bit more weight behind the argument if people agreed with my thoughts," Amor told Sky Sports.
"Me and my wife are from there so we go home as and when we can, and the whole area is struggling like a lot of small mining towns are.
"This is no different and I've seen the whole drama with hospital at Whitehaven, their services being cut. It was more than just a rugby league facility, it was rugby and football, and it was integrating the whole community into a venue the area could be proud of.
"You speak to people up there and the comments are the place is struggling, so it would have been a big boost to the area and, I believe, there would be opportunities off the back of it."
This is the second time in the past decade one of West Cumbria's professional teams has seen their plans to move to a new ground frustrated, with Whitehaven's hopes of building a replacement their Recreation Ground home and host games at the 2013 World Cup falling through.
Those two matches were moved to Workington's present home at Derwent Park and both drew crowds of over 7,000, with 6,628 there to see Scotland hold New Zealand to an 18-18 draw during the 2016 Four Nations as well.
Amor has seen for himself the passion for rugby league which still exists in Cumbria too and believes a modern stadium would serve as an inspiration for youngsters as it could be used as a venue for schools and junior finals, much like other professional clubs' new grounds are.
"When you go home, you see more kids walking around with rugby tops than football tops and the area is so passionate about the game," Amor said.
"Especially nowadays where there are declining numbers in participation across all sport, you want to capture that and re-engage with kids and get them wanting to be sportspeople again, and to do that you've got to tap into their minds from a young age and give them something to aspire to.
"I know it sounds a bit far afield, but if you've got kids playing in those competitions to get to play in a final in a stadium, it gives them a taste of what could be if they work hard."
Amor, who came through the amateur ranks at Hensingham before turning professional with Whitehaven, and St Helens team-mate Morgan Knowles are just two of the Cumbrians starring in Super League at present.
Haven, currently top of League One, have a strong backbone of players scouted from the county's amateur scene, as do Workington and Championship side Barrow Raiders in South Cumbria.
How to harness the potential in Cumbria remains an age-old question though and Amor, who wants to see more investment in the county from the sport's rulers as well, is concerned the rejection of the plans for a new stadium is a blow to hopes of building strong links between the professional game and the community.
"It's a heartland of the sport as well, so while the stadium is not all the answers I think it would help reconnect the community with rugby league again, and get those players more involved," Amor said.
"Ultimately, that's what we want as a sport - we want to tap into the next stars and the future of the game. I just think it's now or never.
"If they don't get their heads together and do something, they might end up losing a heartland of the game completely and they might never be able to rescue it once it's gone."