THAT the curtain has finally come down on the 2012 season was confirmed by the Super League Grand Final but ahead is an uncertain future.
It was good to see Leeds Rhinos ‘do a Sheffield Eagles’ - finishing in fifth place in their league but battling through the play-offs before beating the favourites Warrington Wolves.
A 70,000 crowd at Old Trafford for the final and increased satellite TV viewing figures during the season can’t paper over the cracks.
The Bradford Bulls saga has tarnished the image of the game. As much as the suits at the RFL would like to sweep the events of the last few months under the carpet, questions remain to be answered about how Bradford were allowed to get so close to joining Crusaders in getting a red card.
Castleford Tigers’ supporters have been warned the club is in a ‘precarious’ position and needs a ‘quick fix’. Are the Tigers another big RL beast about to become an endangered species?
Outside the Super League all is not well. The impression gained after another season trailing around clubs in the Championship is that attendances in difficult economic times are not holding up.
There’s a Rugby League World Cup coming up in 2013 but in spite of the Eagles and the Dons success South Yorkshire has been snubbed and won’t stage any games.
That shouldn’t stop the players and fans of Leeds, Sheffield and Doncaster celebrating memorable Grand Final wins – certainly some of the Eagles players proved last week they can win honours in keeping the party going!
Leeds have brought their Super League trophy home in triumph to a proud city. The Dons have a ‘success parade’ and civic reception hosted by the Mayor to look forward to on Saturday. Sheffield Eagles … well, a week after their Championship Grand Final victory, they were still waiting.
No change really. In 1998, when the Eagles overturned the odds at Wembley to win the game’s oldest trophy, it caught the council on the hop. The team were hastily invited to take a stroll with the Challenge Cup along Fargate (much to the confusion of shoppers) before a cuppa at the Town Hall.
Co-operative Championship Grand Final winners Eagles and their fans have had the ‘pothole treatment.’ The Eagles (and potholes) are in the city to stay, have helped make the city famous but nothing is done about them. Perhaps the council have set up a committee to consider their response. Surely someone could have bought a ‘Well Done’ card? It could be in the post, but maybe no one at the Town Hall could afford a stamp.
There wasn’t any delay by Sheffield United in sending a message of congratulations and inviting the Eagles as special guests at the home game against Oldham on Saturday. The Eagles players will be introduced to the crowd and have been promised a Blades chip butty – that’s the proper way to honour your local heroes.