Sheffield Eagles’ move to Doncaster for the next 12 months has provided coach Mark Aston with a sense of déjà vu.
Aston was part of the Eagles side which was forced to leave Sheffield in the early years of their existence, in circumstances which almost mirror the position the club find themselves in today.
However, whilst that year saw the Eagles play at a host of different ‘home’ venues around Yorkshire and north Derbyshire, this time they will have a proper base at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Aston said: “In 1989/90 we had to have a year out of Sheffield because Owlerton wasn’t up to scratch and Don Valley was being built. It’s a very similar situation. However, we’re going to an excellent facility in the Keepmoat. It puts a smile on your face when you walk through the door. The changing rooms are great and the pitch is one of the best in the competition.
“Our outside backs will really enjoy it and hopefully it makes them play to the standards they have set themselves over the last few years and the standards they are capable of.”
Aston fought to keep the Eagles in the Steel City after Don Valley’s demolition, with their former home at Owlerton providing a last-minute resolution. However, a poor season on the field and poor facilities off it meant that the switch wasn’t a success, and the RFL’s subsequent rule changes for Championship stadia has forced the club into another home.
Aston admits his disappointment and not being able to keep the club in Sheffield, but is remaining philosophical about the temporary exodus. He continued: “Next year is about what we do on the field, it’s about being successful. What we do know, is we will be coming home, and we’ll be coming home to a stadium which is going to be absolutely outstanding. It will be a rugby stadium and it will be a totally different kettle of fish to what we have been used to.”
The agreement to play double headers with Doncaster is a unique one in RL and Aston hopes it will entice more casual supporters to boost the crowds of both clubs.
“Carl Hall and the people at Doncaster have been very professional and we’re highly delighted that they have allowed us to work together,” he added.
“There is the potential for some really big weekends; hopefully it will entice rugby league fans in South Yorkshire to come through the door and experience it.”