I remember many freezing windy Sunday mornings of my youth when I used to walk the short distance from home in Henley Avenue to Overthorpe Park, where I would watch the maroon shirts of Gate Inn take on opposition from somewhere else in our glorious valley in the Heavy Woollen Sunday League.
It was always noticeable that the crowd watching the Rugby League game was much bigger than the gathering watching football on the neighbouring pitch.
Gate Inn were previously known as Overthorpe Rangers, but, in 1988, a meeting of much significance took place at Thornhill Edge Club between the Gate Inn Rugby Club committee and their counterparts at Thornhill Lees Junior Rugby League club.
The outcome was an amalgamation with the club to be called Thornhill and their base to be Overthorpe Sports Club.
1994 saw a major facelift to facilities, with new Rugby posts & pitch side barriers being fabricated and erected.
After competing in the Yorkshire League for many years the club applied for membership of the National Conference League, and new dressing room and social facilities saw their application succeed.
January 1995 see the club appear in the Rugby League Challenge Cup for the first time and the first round draw gave them a trip to Hull Kingston Rovers.
Despite the game being played in midweek after an initial postponement they took seven coachloads of fans to Craven Park.
A respectable defeat was the forerunner to many more appearances against professional opposition in the sport’s premier knock-out competition.
The following three seasons saw them take on Swinton in 1996 , Featherstone in 1997 and then a dream draw against Dewsbury in 1998.
Gallant performances in defeat were the outcomes, but then in 2000 the Trojans stunned the Rugby League world when they travelled south to the Don Valley Stadium and beat Sheffield Eagles.
Only two years earlier the Eagles had produced their own stunner by beating Wigan in the Final at Wembley.
Thornhill recently staged a 20th anniversary reunion of that remarkable victory and the club’s love affair with the Challenge Cup carried on.
In 2001 they took on Hunslet at the South Leeds Stadium whilst in 2003 they played Keighley.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but that theory was tipped on its head in 2006 when the Trojans incredibly beat Workington Town in a game staged at The Tetley’s Stadium.
I was at that game and it was a cracker – one of those you just do not forget.
Reward for that victory was an away trip to Super League Catalans Dragons – a cue for the Trojans lads to dig out their passports!
The 2007 Challenge Cup saw Thornhill take on Russian club Strela Kazan at their own Overthorpe Park, with 1,500 spectators ringing the field.
And it was not just the Challenge Cup where Thornhill were making waves – In 1995 they made it to the final of the BARLA Yorkshire Cup.
This was a campaign I remember well as the company I worked for were match sponsors for their home semi final tie against Hull club ‘Embassy’.
As a born and bred Thornhill lad I was proud to be presented with a club tie in the post match presentations.
The Final was against further Hull opposition in Skirlaugh and was staged at The Tetley’s Stadium.
As a thanks for our Semi-Final sponsorship, our managing director was invited to be in Thornhill’s hospitality box for the Final.
Luckily for me he was in France for the weekend and I took his place to witness a fantastic final that Thornhill sadly lost 11-6.
The Trojans have since made two further County finals.
In 2011 they performed in front of 3,000 at the Belle Vue home of Wakefield Trinity but lost against Hunslet Old Boys.
Three years later they again fell to the same opponents.
Arguably the best day in the history of the club came at Post Office Road, Featherstone in 2016 when they won the BARLA National Cup with a 17 – 14 victory against Myton Warriors.
What a day – I was there!
Thornhill Trojans have made innumerable final appearances in various competitions.
They have overcome various challenges, including resigning from the National Conference in 2010 and joining the Pennine League.
Their stay in the Pennine League was short and they are now back in the National Conference League, although their second team still play in the Pennine competition, which effectively means they play at open age level for all 12 months of the year.
The club also has a thriving junior section and their fantastic facilities mean they are able to stage prestigious events such as Masters Rugby League competitions.
The members perform valuable community events, including recently raising £1,000 for the NHS.
They have been served by marvellous administrators over the years – none more so than current long serving secretary Andrew Byram.
Andrew has won various Secretary and Clubman of the year awards, while the club have won match programme of the year prizes.
All those years ago when I stood on the touchline watching Gate Inn the secretary was long time Dewsbury Rams fan Brian Grove.
The Ratcliffe family have also served the club so well for many years.
There have been some proper legends on and off the field at Thornhill; in fact they make me proud to be a born & bred Thornhiller!