Salford Red Devils have announced that this season’s Magic Weekend commemorative shirt will unite, once again, the cities of Salford and Manchester, almost exactly one year to the day since the tragedy at the Manchester Arena took place and the lives of 22 people were lost.
A few days later, the Red Devils threw open the gates for their game against Catalan Dragons and raised almost £50k for the emergency fund set up in the wake of the bombing for the victims’ families.
Now, as the Devils prepare to take on the Dragons again, this time in Rugby League’s showpiece event in Newcastle, the Magic Weekend, the Club has come out in support of its friends and neighbours across the river once more and will play in a limited edition ‘We Love Manchester Emergency Fund’ charity kit for the game, featuring the iconic bee logo on the chest with proceeds going to the victim’s families.
Red Devils’ Managing Director Ian Laithwaite said: “One year on our community remains very much affected by the events of that night. Many supporters, not just from Salford but from the rugby league family as a whole, know of people caught up in the tragic events and when we sat down to decide who we should support with our Magic Weekend shirt this season, the decision was made in an instant.
“The timing of Magic Weekend on the eve of the anniversary will be a poignant one for families across the North of England, and we are proud to be a able to play a small part in the events being held to commemorate those who lost their lives so needlessly.
“Many of our fans, staff, players and partners attend the Arena on a regular basis with their families, or live in Manchester. It is therefore something close to all of our hearts.”
During the development of the design, Main Partner, Mitsubishi Motors immediately agreed to relocate their own branding onto the back of the shirt, in order to give the charity more prominence on this historic shirt.
Martin Woodward, Partnership Engagement Manager at Mitsubishi Motors said: “Like the rest of the nation we were shocked and stunned by the tragic events that took place 12 months ago. When the Red Devils contacted us about this wonderful gesture we instantly agreed to move our logo so the iconic bee logo could take pride of place on the front of these special commemorative shirts.”
Salford Red Devils Club Captain Weller Hauraki said: “Nobody will forget that night as the news began to break. Most of the team live and have family around the Manchester area and the Arena is a venue we all know well.
“The emotion of the night when we played the Dragons in the aftermath of the bomb is one that really sticks in the mind. It was an honour to play a small role in the wider community coming together and it will again be a privilege to take a part in remembering those that lost their lives when we run out at St James’ Park in this special jersey almost a year later.”
Vicky Rosin, We Love Manchester Emergency Fund chief operating officer, said: “We are unbelievably grateful for the generous donations to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. The world’s solidarity with our city has been a ray of light in Manchester’s darkest hour. To raise more than £20m is an amazing response. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
“The kind gestures from Salford Red Devils and Mitsubishi will contribute to helping many people affected by the terrible events of 22 May 2017.
“We have done our very best, with guidance from clinicians, to distribute the money so generously raised by the public, and we continue to look at options for helping as many people as possible from the funds that remain.”