Fond farewell to Dewsbury Rams’ Dr Jim

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All sports teams have their unsung heroes, those who graft tirelessly away from the spotlight.

Not the glory, mud-caked shins or changing room camaraderie for them, but a quiet and long-standing commitment that is vital to keeping a club on top of its game.

One such person is Dewsbury Rams RLFC doctor James “Jim” Lee who, after 32 seasons with the club, has retired.

Through the decades he has shared in the club’s highs and lows – including the year spent in the top division.

James said: “It is a great pleasure and privilege to be involved in sports at that level.

“Every game that I have attended has been enjoyable, even if we have lost – because the team has always given their best.

“I think that a lot of teams like Dewsbury are very much local teams, there’s a local identity.

“Once you get involved with them it gets under your skin. It becomes part of your blood and your life.

“I’ve put a lot in, but I’ve got a lot out of it. It’s nice to deal with people who are motivated and who want to get fit as quickly as possible.”

Originally from the south, James moved to the area to become a Batley-based GP in 1981.

While playing snooker with a fellow GP who knew a Dewsbury Rams committee member, James was asked to join as their part-time doctor.

Always a “sports nut,” though more of a rugby union fan, James decided to give it a go and served his first full season in 1983/84.

“I’d always had an interest in sport,” he said.

“I had played and still played but I never had any experience of rugby league.

“I went in as a complete novice.

“I was learning on the job and learning from the people around me. When I started the job it was carried out by GPs almost as community service.”

James said that a club doctor can now be considered a profession which youngsters specifically aim for and has greatly progressed in its training and methods.

To mark his years at the club, he was unexpectedly awarded with a watch during a special presentation.

“The club has always been very appreciative of the services that I’ve offered.

“I will continue to watch and have contact with them. It’s been over half my life as doctor with the club, so it’s a bit of a wrench, but it’s time to call it a day.”

James, who is 61 this year, finished his career as a GP two years ago and now works as a clinical advisor.

His second part-time role as Cleckheaton RUFC’s doctor of about eight years ended last season.

But he has passed on the baton to daughter Cate, who works as a physiotherapist in rugby league at a national level and was involved with the Paralympics.

“My wife and the rest of my family have always enjoyed and shared my interest,” James said.

He singled out the club’s successful years under head coach Neil Kelly, when they won the Northern Ford Premiership, as being particularly memorable.