St Albans rugby league stalwart carries flag for London Broncos

Co-founder of St Albans Centurions Ken Edwards, of Harpenden, with Joe Grima, London Broncos' head c

Co-founder of St Albans Centurions Ken Edwards, of Harpenden, with Joe Grima, London Broncos' head coach, at Wembley. - Credit: Steve Devonshire/London Broncos

The co-founder of a St Albans rugby league club has enjoyed a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity, carrying the flag for London Broncos at iconic Wembley stadium.

Ken Edwards, of Harpenden, who set up St Albans Centurions Rugby League Club with Gary Tetlow in 1996, recently stepped on to the hallowed turf after being nominated as flag carrier for all the behind-the-scenes work he does for the Broncos and the sport in the south of England.

The 45-year-old said that carrying the flag in the build-up to the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final between Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers on August 23 “capped off a great year for me”.

Ken, who hails from Darwin, Australia, but has lived in the UK for 20 years, is a referee.

He officiated in the Armed Forces World Cup last October, and was touch judge at the final between Australia and New Zealand; the Ireland V England student international match and recently worked as a liaison officer for the Commonwealth Games rugby league championships in Glasgow.

Ken said his day at the showpiece game started hours before the final began, when he and fellow flag-bearers met in the “bowels of the stadium”.

Every team - professional or amateur - which played in the Challenge Cup this year was represented with a flag, carried as part of the pre-match festivities.

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Teams represented included those from the Army, Navy, Royal Air Force, Wigan, London Skolars and West Hull.

Ken said that while there was no one undertaking the ceremonial role for St Albans, “we were represented by our very own Matt Stringer who was carrying the flag for the British Police Rugby League Team, for whom he had played in earlier rounds of the cup – one of three Centurions who have achieved GB selection this year.”

He added: “The stadium is eerily quiet when there are no spectators in it, and it’s strangely far bigger when viewed from ground level.

“It was incredible to see the build-up to the game, deep within the stadium; there were large numbers of dancers, schoolchildren, TV staff, event co-ordinators, groundsmen and all sorts – it struck me how much the stadium resembled a little city underneath all the seats.”

Ken went on: “The reception from the crowd, typical for rugby league, was loud and warm. It was a great day, and I feel really privileged to have been a part of it as it was genuinely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I won’t forget in a hurry.”