Where did that come from?
Last Sunday we took our seats for the match against Leigh full of dread! After the abject performances against Batley and Rochdale how on earth were we going to compete with a Leigh team. Despite the turmoil they had been thrown into following their failure to make the qualifiers they had nevertheless won nine of their last ten games (the only loss being to Toronto) and were on a run of 6 successive victories. Over those ten games they had scored 414 points to 188 conceded. We thought they might implode when it got to the Championship shield and the announcement of Derek Beaumont that he was leaving and the departure of their captain and a number of their top players. But they started the Shield by beating Sheffield 68-6 and Barrow 38-0. The omens were poor enough even before we discovered that we going into the game with only 14 players.
Sat there waiting for the game to begin we soon discovered that there were plenty of others around us who were also fearing a heavy loss. But then those 14 players turned out to be heroes. Every single one of them! And not only were their 14 heroes but some of them were superheroes. John Davies was utterly amazing and so were Ian Hardman, Josh Hardcastle and Misi Taulapapa, who we felt played his greatest game ever for Fev.
The greatest jubilation comes when you are least expecting it. We can’t remember when we last left Post Office Road feeling quite so jubilant.
But we are still searching unsuccessfully for explanations. We were great in Toronto, awful against Batley and Rochdale and fantastic against Leigh. Let’s just hope that we finish the season playing like that and reward the fans after the disappointment of not making the Top 4.
We have been thinking about how the league structure should be shaped in the future. At the moment we cannot offer solutions but we have come up with some principles.
1) No change to be made for 2019. It makes us look shambolic to be changing the structure now with less than a month of the season left. It’s crazy to put several clubs now into a position where they don’t know what they need to do to avoid relegation from the Championship or promotion from League 1 with three games to go.
2) A level playing field in each league. Issues to be considered here include both central funding levels and part-time teams competing with full-time opposition.
3) A fair competition with each club playing the others in their league home and away and no ‘extra’ matches whether they be so called ‘loop’ fixtures or an extra game at Summer Bash or Magic Weekend.
4) The return of a second knock-out competition such as the much loved Yorkshire and Lancashire Cups. A much better way of producing extra matches.
5) Re-thinking about the development of new clubs in areas where there is no tradition of rugby league as a professional spectator sport.
6) Clear pathways for promotion and relegation with bottom club in Super League and the Championship automatically promoted and top club in the Championship and League One automatically promoted. This does not discount some possibility of second promotion and relegation between the divisions.
We will try and come up with our own proposals next week. Please feel free to respond with your ideas. It would be great to hear the ideas of fans rather than Super League chairmen and administrators.