London RL Honoured with Rugby Football League Vice Presidency

24th July 2017



Skolars Director Mark Croston was elected as the Vice President of the RFL at last week’s RFL Annual General Meeting. Its the first time a London club has received such an honour, reflecting the impact London Skolars have had on the sport in the capital and throughout the game. 


Its a busy year in office and Mark is both delighted with the appointment and excited by the year ahead ‘I accepted the appointment on behalf of the Skolars supporters, volunteers, players, sponsors, staff and of course fellow directors – who have all worked tirelessly to build a club that is like no other. I came to London originally to play for the Broncos in their inaugural season and have stayed with the cause as a volunteer,  coach, director and fan ever since. I wil use my year in office doing all I can to enhance the sports reputation in London and beyond. ‘


What have been your most memorable moments in the sport?

When Skolars entered the Pro Leagues, I remember standing outside the changing room after I had addressed the squad as Head Coach before our first game v Dewsbury Rams.  I looked over to the main grandstand which was packed with the London RL family.  I was both elated and suddenly aware of the level we had stepped up to. A very tense moment indeed. Other moments include making my debut for the Broncos in Carlisle with fellow Director Andrew Jackson cheering me on and taking part in the Coca-Cola Sydney Sevens for Canada. Clearly my years spent in the sport in Wigan provided me with so much in terms of how the sport is played and how it embeds itself on a community. I was lucky enough to pull on the shirt of great clubs there, Ince,  a club my father established, Wigan St Pats and the cherry and white of Wigab – fantastic places to learn and test yourself. I was fortunate to see close up the likes of Shaun Edwards and was lucky enough to have the influence of the late great Mike Gregory to draw on. I played for clubs in Australia and France too which gave me so much experience to draw on and broadened my horizons significantly. 

Who would you rate as the best and most influential players you have seen or played with? 

The two I’ve already mentioned are pretty obvious, however,  it was another Gregory, Andrew who I admired more then any.  I also learned a lot from Benny Elias who played in the NRL for Balmain, NSW and Australia – one of the first modem number 9s. 

During my time in London, playing with John Gallagher was fantastic and he was a very astute guy off the field – always there to help young players like myself. The Skolars list is endless,  yet several names spring to mind, Charlie Oyebade was so talented and unique, Rubert Jonker was just brilliant to work with and the heart of the team, Gareth Honor brought so much to the club in his own inimitable style and we had a front rower from New Zealand Brent Wedlake who was just a phenomenal player who simply got on with the job.

However, the most talented player I played with was from my schooldays – a stand off from Ince, Wayne Reid who I played with at Leigh Rangers, Ince St Williams and St Pats,  who went on to play at Salford and Rochdale. 

How has the sport changed since you came to London? 

It’s tempting to judge any sport or commodity on headlines and  silverware or in comparison to the EPL. However, when I came to London,  there was one pro club,  which was essentially a group of overseas players and a few hundred fans – and what I see today is a quarter of a century of growth – players,  volunteers, fans, reach via digital media, sponsors schools and community clubs and most significant of all – heritage, memories and second and third generations of family’s flowing naturally through the sport. How do you measure the value of that and also the cost of it not being there? 

Where do you see the sport in another 25 years?

The digital age provides our sport with its most significant opportunity to grow since 1895. That said,  the same applies for other sports which could be more relevant to the generations to come. In my other role as Chairman of World Dodgeball, it’s clear to me that our sport and Dodgeball can expand massively into new territories, both literally and digitally – if it evolves, and becomes relevant to modern audiences.  My fear is that there the forces of stability and protectionism with the sport will hold the sport back.

You mentioned Dodgeball – what is a rugby league man from Wigan doing there?

When you see Dodgeball played at a community level though to elite,  what struck me was it’s simplicity, dynamism and that it was fun for everyone involved,  win lose or draw. I felt that it was a sport that could get people active like no other. You can’t take your eyes of it,  like rugby league at its best.

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