Bradford Salem celebrating historic treble with record fifth Yorkshire Shield triumph

The presence of Tim Lamb on the supporters’ bus down to Doncaster Knights on Saturday underlined the sense of history of what Bradford Salem were trying to achieve.

For 64 years ago, Lamb was a player when Salem won the Yorkshire Shield for the first time.

Three decades later his son was the captain who led the West Yorkshire side out at Twickenham for a national cup final. Back then, Salem won a league and cup double.

On Saturday they were bidding to win a trophy treble.

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Treble tonic: The players and coaches of Bradford Salem celebrating their trophy triple in the 2023/24 season.Treble tonic: The players and coaches of Bradford Salem celebrating their trophy triple in the 2023/24 season.
Treble tonic: The players and coaches of Bradford Salem celebrating their trophy triple in the 2023/24 season.

Already with the Counties One Yorkshire title in their possession, and victors in the Papa John’s Counties One North Plate final at Darlington seven days earlier, this current vintage were on the verge of doing something not even Lamb could manage - win a treble.

“We took a coach of supporters down to Doncaster,” begins club chairman and former player Neil Klenk. “Tim Lamb was there, he was the father of one of our captains who led us out at Twickenham in 1991 and 1992. Tim is also a surviving member of the team that won the Yorkshire Shield in 1960.

“So it shows just how significant the day was for the club.”

Pleasingly for Lam, Klenk and Salem, the burden of history did not weigh too heavily on the shoulders of the 2024 Salem team who defeated Keighley 40-19 at Doncaster to win the Yorkshire Shield for the fifth time in their history.

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Bradford Salem won the Yorkshire Shield at Doncaster's Castle Park on Saturday for the fifth time in club history.Bradford Salem won the Yorkshire Shield at Doncaster's Castle Park on Saturday for the fifth time in club history.
Bradford Salem won the Yorkshire Shield at Doncaster's Castle Park on Saturday for the fifth time in club history.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” Klenk tells The Yorkshire Post. “We’ve come close to a treble before, we’ve done doubles. We had a good couple of years when I was playing back in the early 1990s when we got to Twickenham and also did well in the Yorkshire Cup and won the league.

“But we’ve never done the league, national cup and county cup treble - that’s unprecedented and historic for us.

“Saturday was our fifth success in our ninth final in the Shield. I believe that makes us the most prolific winners in that competition’s history, which is quite appropriate as we are coming into our centenary year in September. It feels nice to have had a nice season to go into that.”

Nine months ago, they couldn’t have foreseen such levels of success.

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Salem began their Counties One Yorkshire campaign with two defeats in their opening three games. “After a bit of a shaky start under a new coaching team, there wasn’t a great deal of optimism but we’ve turned things around fantastically,” says Klenk, after the club had turned to an old hand to lead the first team that summer.

“The guy who we installed is a very experienced coach in Bob Hood, who had many years at Yarnbury, coached the England Counties side, has coached Yorkshire senior and Under-20s side.

“We managed to talk him out of retirement. He has all the connections - from Baildon, played at Bradford and Bingley, Roundhay and Headingley - but as a coach he’s brought a massive amount of professionalism to the club, new structures in and the players have all bought into that and have developed as a team.

“We went 20 games unbeaten to end the season, playing incredibly well as a team.”

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Winning the Counties One Yorkshire title sends them up to Regional North East Two next season, matching the highest they have ever been.

“We’ve played most of the teams in there except for Morley,” adds Klenk.

“For those whose memories go back long enough to the 1970s, they were probably the premier side in Yorkshire, so it’s a testament to us getting to a level where we’ve only been once before.”