Since 1987, Ashton Bears have been providing rugby league to men, women and children of all ages from Ashton and the surrounding areas.

The club recently found themselves in need of a new teamwear supplier, and after a shortlisting process, opted to put their faith in 1895 Sports.

Initially, they wanted to offer standard polo shirts and playing kits for their open age sides. But such has been the demand for items offered by the club, they now sell over 15 products online and cater to the needs of players across various age groups.

The partnership with Ashton Bears has been a real success to date, and as team manager Wayne Haselden explains, the decision to choose 1895 Sports is one they are delighted to have made.

Understanding the needs of the club

Photo credit: Kings Pix

1895 Sports were one of several teamwear providers considered by Ashton as they looked to find the option best suited to the needs of the club.

A meeting with co-owner and director Mike Cooper, whose own rugby league playing career has spanned nearly two decades, helped Haselden and the Ashton committee decide that 1895 would have the club’s best interests at heart.

“It’d be easy to sit in front of a businessman who just wanted to make money off us and didn’t really care,” he said.

“Straight away, I fed back to the committee that I liked what he was about – a rugby man who gets it from our point of view, not just a business sense.

“Obviously, because Mike has played rugby all his life and knows people in the sport, he wants to put his name to something that is a quality product. Straight away, it was clear that he prides himself on what 1895 Sports deliver.

“We were assured that they were going to look after us, which has been the case. There haven’t been any teething problems, and everything has been really smooth. We can’t complain at all.

“It quickly snowballed from us initially just wanting the kits sorted out, and that’s testament to the relationship we’ve formed.”

A greater sense of community

Photo credit: Mike Crompton

As well as encouraging a love for playing the sport of rugby league, Ashton’s decision to link up with 1895 Sports has helped them further develop a sense of community amongst their players, parents and supporters.

Their range of on and off-field products has continued to grow – Bears hoodies, bobble hats and half-zips are just some of the items that can now be purchased online, while bespoke headguards incorporating the club’s colours are now worn by many of their younger players.

Haselden himself has a long history with the club. After hanging up his boots, he stayed onboard with their open age team in a coaching capacity, first as an assistant coach then a team manager. He subsequently joined the club’s committee, acting as a liaison between the club and its suppliers and looking after teamwear needs across all Ashton teams.

Months on from starting to sell merchandise through 1895 Sports, Haselden admits to seeing more and more people wearing Ashton apparel – including at some of rugby league’s biggest events.

“I was at Wembley not too long ago for the Challenge Cup final, and it was amazing being around the stadium and seeing people with the Ashton clothing on,” he added.

“It’s a good feeling being at an event with 60,000+ people and being able to pick out people wearing our gear.

“That’s the important thing from our point of view. It’s not about revenue, it’s all to do with looking and feeling the part around the club.”

Featured photo credit: Mike Crompton

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