MIKE Eccles is a proud Leyther whose London calling was only supposed to last two years.

Then again, the former sports mad Lowton High School pupil had no aspirations to become a Super League head coach.

But Eccles’ stay in the capital is fast approaching a dozen years and he will be at the helm of London Broncos when they return to the top flight for 2024.

His official title remains Director of Rugby and Performance but either way, he will be pitting his wits against Leigh Leopards and the rest of the game’s elite.

“I have so much respect for what Leigh have done; it is incredible,” says Eccles who, in his time, represented Leigh East, Leigh Rugby Union Club and Leigh Cricket Club.

He even spent time at Leigh RMI football after a stint as goalkeeper/right back on Wigan Athletic’s books where his teenage team mates included former Everton and England star, Leighton Baines.

“They have added serous value to the competition as I believe Broncos did in 2019. Relegation went down to the wire and in another year we would have been on the cusp of or even in the play-offs.

“But honestly, I am looking forward to them all (fixtures) in equal capacity. I loved my time in the Championship but going to Batley in February is hard!”

Broncos visit Leigh Sports Village on July 19 and that will be one of the few times, Eccles and his family will return to see friends and relatives.

“With kids and other commitments, we don’t get back much. But we are a Leigh family in London.

“I believe Leigh cricket club was rocking for the Grand Final (against Toulouse) There was split allegiance because my friends were in there as well as friends of Harrison Hansen.”

As a youngster, Eccles attended Gilded Hollins Primary. “I played all sports to a reasonable level,” he confirmed.

“Growing up I lived round the corner from the rugby union club so naturally, I played rugby union on a weekend but played rugby league at school as schools do in Leigh.

“The dream had always been to be a professional footballer, rugby player or cricketer.

“When I went to Wigan, it was that and nothing else. Cricket ceased and rugby stopped.

“I just didn’t make it. I wasn’t tall enough to be a goalkeeper and not good enough to play outfield.

“But off the back of that I started on the sports science route. Leigh RMI were doing quite well and had not long since played Fulham in the FA Cup.

“Importantly for me, they had just set up an Academy linked to Wigan and Leigh College.. That’s basically why I did a sports science course.”

He was on Salford’s back-room staff while playing for Leigh East but moved to London in 2012 as S&C coach. Five years later he became Head of Performance.

Eccles took over the coaching reins from Jermaine Coleman in 2022, initially on a temporary basis but then permanently.

Despite his success, he remains in post reluctantly. “When I took the role I didn’t want to be known as head coach. It wasn’t my ambition.

“I don’t want to do this role for other clubs; this works for London and London only. Eventually I will work back in an avenue I am qualified in.”