MARK Aston will be going head-to-head with one of his former team-mates and old friends Daryl Powell in the Championship Grand Final.
The pair first played together at Sheffield Eagles in 1985 and formed a great partnership for nearly 10 seasons.
Both have gone on to success as coaches – Powell at Featherstone where he has taken them to successive Championship leaders’ titles and Aston in spearheading the revival of the Eagles.
Powell’s success with Rovers won him the Championship Coach of the Year Award earlier this week.
On Sunday the Aston-Powell friendship will be put on the back burner as their clubs clash in the Championship Grand Final for the biggest prize outside the Super League.
“We had a chat at the Championship awards dinner on Tuesday – a bit of banter and we were looking forward to the final,” said Aston. “We’re good friends and mates and the best team will win on the day. It is all about our teams not us.”
On the field Aston and Powell formed a great partnership either at half-back or with Powell plundering tries from centre. Off the field they worked together taking the message of rugby league into local schools as part of the Eagles community development team.
Aston added: “Featherstone have been the best team throughout the season but Daryl will know that when we played them at Bramall Lane a few weeks ago we were beating them 12-6 at half-time and we were in control of the game. We dropped off a little bit in the second half but we’ve improved since then.”
Aston has asked the Rugby Footballer League to “explain” how the Eagles failed to get even a nomination for the Championship Club of the Year Award that went to Batley Bulldogs. He feels the Eagles should have been recognised after finishing fourth and becoming the first club ever from outside the top two to reach a Grand Final.
“When you look at what we have done, it’s a disgrace and we have asked who picks Club of the Year,” he said.