Sheffield Tigers are in their 90th year – an impressive feat for any sports club. They are proud of their long history and have exciting plans for the future.
As you come into the city of Sheffield from the west on the Hathersage Road whilst enjoying the revealing vistas of the city with seven hills, you can now notice a brown sign pointing to the left. STRUFC. That is the home of Sheffield Tigers and whilst the extreme location on the very edge of the city boundaries offers naturally challenging weather conditions there is huge momentum of activity in this part of South Yorkshire.
Tigers were formed in season 1932/33 and played their first year in the north of the city before moving to the Dore Moor area to a rented pitch. As the club developed, they moved nearby to what is still their current ground and commenced a process of establishment over the next five years. Tigers built a clubhouse and laid out two pitches before it but with the advent of World War Two it was not until 1946/47 that these facilities were fully realised.
Tigers expanded the facilities with more changing rooms and a further two pitches, one known forebodingly as “The Eiger” to which anyone unfortunate to play a half on it up the hill could attest to.
However there are records which document on at least two occasions that those with that handicap did actually win a half! At the start of the 1950s the name of the club was becoming well known through the country’s rugby circles and to mark the Tigers’ 21st anniversary then England captain and ex-Sheffield schoolboy Bob Stirling was Guest of Honour at the celebratory dinner.
By the mid 1970’s the club were fielding five senior sides and by 1981 were able to procure the freehold of the grounds.
When the RFU introduced the league system in 1986 Tigers were placed into Yorkshire Division two and were mid-table stalwarts there for around fifteen seasons, often having an excellent home record, due possibly to visiting teams not finding the sometime Arctic conditions to their liking!
Things really began moving on the playing side at the turn of the millennium. First up was a visit to Twickenham where Tigers defeated a highly rated Bank of England side 20-11 in the RFU Vase final. Then a year later in 2001 the Yorkshire Shield came to Dore Moor, courtesy of a 20-3 victory over Scarborough at Hull, but perhaps more significantly, Tigers gained promotion to Yorkshire Division One. Relegation followed two seasons later, but three successive league promotions saw Tigers reach North One. A return visit to Twickenham in 2005 resulted in a convincing 30-13 win over Solihull to claim the RFU Vase again.
By 2011 the Tigers arrived in National League Division 2 North, at level four of the pyramid, and after one further relegation and promotion, currently sit at eleventh in a tightly contested mid-table.
Now as Tigers approach their 90th anniversary, there is plenty to look forward to in leading up to their centenary in 2032. The club have recently appointed Jack Howieson, a former Rugby League international, as Director of Rugby and he, along with long serving first team player / coach Jamie Broadley, are the nucleus of the drive to continuously improve playing matters. Like all clubs, Tigers are aiming to progress higher in the league system but there is a realistic approach to how this might be achieved. The short- and medium-term goals revolve around becoming a regular top six side in their division and then breaking into the top three. Promotion to step three would involve significant costs both in terms of team running costs and improved infrastructure at the Dore Moor ground.
“We are introducing an Academy style playing system so that we can develop our own player career structure right through from minis, juniors and colts rugby to 2nd team and eventually the first team squad”, explained Broadley. “We like to play in an attacking style with a mobile pack and nuggety defence to combat sides who may be bigger physically than us. Additionally we want to create an environment whereby players can create great memories and experiences and that we are perceived as the destination and senior club in Sheffield with a rewarding social set up.”
Those brave pioneers who set up the club back in the 1930s would be delighted to see the club’s current facilities. There is a sizeable multi-station indoor gym area and two floodlit training pitches. As well as the burgeoning youth set up Tigers host a fully inclusive but separate club in Sheffield Vulcans. And this season has witnessed the formation of the talented and highly enthusiastic Sheffield Tigers Women, who have emerged victorious in all three of their games so far, scoring over 250 points without conceding any! Then for post-match socialising the club stocks plenty of beverages including Moonshine and Daily Bread, from the flagship range of the local Abbeydale brewery.
To facilitate the recent and planned growth for the club, there are ambitious plans as Tigers Chairman, Paul Walker, explains. “We divested “The Tiger” a while back but now with so much rugby taking place at Dore Moor, we urgently need a new and replacement fourth pitch. We have acquired land at the back of the clubhouse and are now actively fundraising to meet the estimated cost of £130,000 to make it ready for use. We are well on the way to achieving this and have recently gained formal planning permission.
Club members are identifying and implementing a series of initiatives to make our plans a reality soon. Looking further ahead, we have a vision to develop the facilities in all aspects, for example hybrid pitches, more changing rooms and improved car parking and spectator amenities.
Covid has hampered us but we are now in a position to move forward and create a magnificent set up in time for our 100th season.”