AN historic sports club battling for survival has organised a talent show in a bid to raise some much-needed cash.
Tyldesley Rugby Union Football Club was on its knees last year after two of its three sides folded and the first team was relegated and had only a handful of players to pick from.
New players were recruited, others rejoined and a second string was reformed for the start of this season, but now the club needs a financial boost after being deprived of crucial match day takings due to a series of postponed games.
The club is one of the founding members of the sport now known as rugby league, having taken part in the momentous rugby union meeting at Huddersfield's George Hotel in 1895 which resulted in a breakaway sport being formed.
Tyldesley competed with 21 other clubs in the first rugby league season in history later that year, finishing sixth in the table, and was the first club to revert back to playing rugby union in 1911.
It was formed in 1881 as the first rugby club in Tyldesley and it is also in the history books for being the club England international half back John 'Buff' Berry played for when representing his country against Wales, Ireland and Scotland in 1891.
Lee Berrisford, Tyldesley's social secretary and a player for the second team that was re-established for the start of this season, said: “As a worst case scenario we could ultimately end up folding if things don't pick up financially.
“Last year we were in real trouble after losing two teams.
“That was damaging for the club but we are back to two teams and looking at restarting a third team in the next season or two.
“We have come a long way and need to keep moving forward on and off the field.
"We have a big juniors section and 100 members and have a very proud history, having played a part in the birth of rugby league and having once had an England international in Buff Berry on the playing staff."
The club will host a Tyldesley’s Got Talent competition at its St George's Park base on Astley Street from 7pm on Saturday, April 22.
It is free to enter and Lee is urging residents to buy tickets costing £3 for adults and £2 for children and enjoy a variety of entertaining acts while helping the club.
Lee, 44, said: “We have had quite a few matches called off recently and it is a killer for us because the club relies on match day takings.
“I would like to raise at least £500 from the talent show as it would really help us on the back of all the recent call offs.
"There will be a variety of acts, like singing, dancing and comedy, and there will also be a raffle.
"It should be a good night.
"Also the first team have a Lancashire Plate semi final to look forward to at home to Littleborough on Saturday, April 15, kick off 3pm.
"A good crowd behind the team for the big game would be much appreciated."
Lee has played for the club for 32 years and came out of retirement when Tyldesley were desperate for numbers at the end of last season.
His 17-year-old son Daniel also joined at that time and plays alongside his dad in the second team.
Lee, who helped to organise a fun day in November that raised £3,700 for Martin Wallbank, a Tyldesley player who had to have his spleen removed and almost died after suffering a horror injury in a match in August, said: “The club is important for the community. It is a big part of families' lives with many people involved with the juniors teams.
"We all look out for each other at the club and the facilities are brilliant.
“I have played at Tyldesley for more than 30 years now and this will be my final season. To play with Daniel will be a great way to sign out.”
To buy tickets for the talent show call the club on 01942 882967.