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Heysham Atoms appoint new head coach ahead of move to new home

Steve Woodburn (centre), with players Dan Helme (right) and Jamie Cottle (left)

Steve Woodburn is Heysham Atoms ARLFC’s new men's team head coach, the club has announced. 

His appointment is only the second time in the local rugby league club’s history that the club has appointed someone who was not already part of the Atoms’ setup. 

It comes as the club prepares to relocate to a new ground next year after spending the past two years ground-sharing Vale of Lune RUFC’s Powderhouse Lane.

They have agreed a 25-year lease with Lancaster City Council to play at Westgate Wanderers Football Club’s King George’s Playing Fields, meaning Heysham Atoms will be based in Heysham itself.

Woodburn has had longstanding involvement in both rugby league and rugby union.

He grew up in Cumbria and played for Millom’s rugby league team at a young age.

He played for academies at Oldham and Wigan at age 18 before joining Barrow Raiders.

Woodburn also represented Great Britain and England’s university teams, captaining England to second place in the 1999 University World Cup.

He has coached in both rugby league and rugby union. 

In league he has had spells at Blackpool Scorpions, Blackpool Sea Eagles, Millom, England Students and England Lionhearts, with whom he won the Four Nations Championship.

In rugby union, he has coached Millom, Fleetwood and Thornton, his most recent role.

Thornton have enjoyed significant progress across Woodburn’s two years at the club but he says the opportunity to return to league and coach Heysham Atoms “is too much to turn down”.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Heysham and getting back into coaching rugby league," he said.

“I am really keen to help the club progress on and off the field. 

“I know the club is moving in a new direction with a new home for next season and I’m excited to be a part of that journey.”

When speaking to Beyond Radio in September, coach Andy Helme said: “The fact it’s in the Heysham area is great, obviously it ties in with the club name. Westgate Wanderers have been so helpful while agreeing this co-leasing.

“The club’s vision has always been to find somewhere to call home, and now we have that place.

“We’re looking forward to going out and playing our rugby there next season.”

Heysham Atoms’ men’s side finished eighth - second from bottom - in the North West Men’s League Premier Division last season, avoiding relegation.

The club restart training on January 8 2024, with dates, times, teams and locations as follows:

Monday 8 January (and every Monday until end of March): Morecambe Bay Academy on Dallam Avenue, LA4 5BG. 6pm-7pm: under 7s to under 12s, 7pm-8pm: under 13s, under 15s, ladies, open age

Tuesday 9 January (and every Tuesday until end of March): Bay Leadership Academy on Osborne Road, LA3 5BG. 6pm-7pm: under 15s

Wednesday 10 January (and every Wednesday until end of March): Salt Ayre Leisure Centre on Doris Henderson Way, LA1 5JS. 6pm-7pm: under 11s and under 12s, 6.45-8pm: under 15s and open age together, ladies, men’s masters and ladies masters

From the beginning of April, training will move to King George’s Playing Fields, with dates and times to be confirmed.

For more information about Heysham Atoms ARLFC, visit their Facebook page.

*Guests from Heysham Atoms will be appearing early next month on Beyond Radio’s Saturday Sports Show, which is live every Saturday at 9am.

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