Hunslet Club Parkside have stormed straight through from the Pennine League to the National Conference Premier Division, winning the Division Three, Two and One titles in successive seasons.
The first division championship this year was part of an historic treble which also included a BARLA National Cup triumph and victory in the Conference Trophy and at the heart of Parkside’s success – since their days as Hunslet Old Boys – has been goalkicking prop-forward Jamie Fields.
The Yorkshire captain was recognised for his efforts this term – including 17 tries and a total of 178 points – by being named Conference Division One player of the year, something he described as “massively pleasing, especially backing up from being Division Two player of the year last year”.
But he insisted: “It is on behalf of the team – we have had a great year.”
Fields, who works as a scaffolder, reckons the biggest challenge is yet to come, at the highest level of the community game.
“We are under no illusions,” he stressed. “We’re not thinking it is going to be easy, we are entering the toughest amateur league in the country and there’s some top, top sides in that division.
“But after three promotions, to say avoiding relegation is our main target is a bit disrespectful to ourselves.
“We beat Thatto Heath twice last year and they won it this season without any big changes to their squad.
“I think we will be there or thereabouts and we will be looking to finish in the top four.”
On a personal note, Fields, 28, is already pondering a move into coaching, but has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet.
“I have got a few years left in me and I really fancy this Premier Division and getting the club established in there before I even think about retiring,” he said.
Parkside have been almost unstoppable since entering the Conference and Fields reckons “commitment” is the secret of their success.
He said: “We all have that, from the waterboy to the head coach. Success doesn’t come for free, we all buy into Paul, Martin and Sam’s ethos.”
Parkside’s backroom team of Paul McShane, Martin Rowse and Sam Thorpe were named Division One coaches of the year at the Conference’s awards night last week.
McShane has maintained his involvement with Parkside despite being a key figure for Castleford Tigers as they won the Super League leaders’ shield in 2017.
“I’ve known him since school,” Fields recalled.
“I was in the year above him. It makes it a bit awkward at times, being older than the head coach, but he has been great for us.
“Everything he does is what Daryl Powell does at Castleford and we all know how good Daryl is. If it’s good enough for Castleford Tigers, it’s good enough for Hunslet Club Parkside.”