Wests Ashfield Leagues, Croydon Sports, Markets Club in Homebush and the redeveloped Balmain Leagues Club will now fall under a new umbrella brand, Holman Barnes Group, named for two legendary rugby league footballers. The group also has representation in Wests Magpies and shareholding at Wests Tigers whose derelict former home is soon to be rebuilt.
Keith Holman MBE and Keith Barnes AM, included in the list of the nation’s finest footballers of the 20th century with both admitted into the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame, have been honoured in the creation of the new umbrella brand.
Keith Holman was honoured with life membership of Western Suburbs while still playing, was selected in the Wests Tigers Team of the Century and Western Suburbs Magpies Team of the Century, and appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1977.
Keith Barnes was a fullback for Balmain Tigers and captain of the Australian national team on 12 occasions. He was selected in Balmain’s Team of the Century and Wests Tigers Team of the Century and appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1996.
The two also played in the era when Wests Ashfield was founded and with the first-ever game Western Suburbs Magpies played being against the Balmain Tigers at Birchgrove Oval in 1908, the pairing of these two greats perfectly echoes the historical link between the two teams, the club group said.
“These iconic Wests players possess an unflagging spirit and determination, with an ability to bring people together both on and off the field,” Holman Barnes CEO Simon Cook said. “It’s our desire to harness this same spirit, forge a partnership and launch a brand that will acknowledge them now and for a long time into the future.”
The new branding, by marketing agency Brilliant Logic, capitalises on a 22-year joint venture with the Tigers and draws on data from focus groups and member surveys.
“Serving our community is at the centre of everything we do and our reason for being in business, so it only made sense to ask members what they wanted to see when we were considering an umbrella brand,” Cook said. “Overall, our members wanted a brand that was inclusive, mindful of tradition and appropriate to the rugby league spirit.
“This umbrella brand is an exciting next step for us – it melds history with a contemporary look and feel that we believe has longevity in the marketplace. We hope our members are happy with the end result,” he continued.
While the names of individual clubs will not change, the Holman Barnes Group brand features a new tagline ‘Bringing People Together’. This will help drive strategy and inform product offerings in each of the venues to cater to sporting fans, retirees and families.
“The vision behind the change is to launch a group brand that is distinct and unique.
The new name will end the confusion between our entities and other organisations with similar names. It allows us to continue to serve the community in different ways while maintaining one strong identity,” Cook said. “So far, the new name has already been embraced by our employees and stakeholders and we’re excited to see it go live.
“The people in our community are the backbone of our organisation and this change is just one example of our continual endeavour to be a place of connection for them all.”