University names new pitch in memory of rugby fan John

John Hawley
John Hawley

A NEW rugby pitch at the University of Sheffield – part of an £800,000 ‘world-class’ complex – is being named after a former member of staff who died three years ago.

The John Hawley Pitch recognises the contribution he and his family have made to the sport at the university.

He gained an engineering degree in 1973 and later became deputy director of the university’s Corporate Information and Computer Services.

He played for the university rugby league club and his wish was to make a significant charitable donation to the university towards a sports project.

His widow, Pauline said: “Sport, especially rugby league, meant a lot to John and it is a fitting tribute to see so many students benefiting from his support.”

Andrew Gwilliam, alumni rugby league member and former rugby league club player, said: “John arrived at the University of Sheffield when the rugby league team was in its first years.

“He regularly spoke fondly of his memories of these early days and enjoyed reminiscing about the camaraderie and the great friendships he made.”

“The generous donation left to the university is testament to exactly how much of an influence the rugby league club had on his life. The John Hawley pitch will go on to benefit many young people’s lives, just as university sport benefited John’s life all those years ago.”

The pitch is part of a range of artificial playing surfaces at the Goodwin Sports Centre in Northumberland Road, catering for a variety of sports including hockey and football.

Sheffield is the first in the country to install the synthetic Desso Sports Systems, which are used by football clubs including Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool.

The new pitches will be used by both students and community groups.