SHEFFIELD Eagles Challenge Cup winning coach John Kear has revealed his regret at not ‘walking away’ when the club dropped out of Super League and merged with Huddersfield Giants.
Kear had stayed with the Eagles after plotting their Wembley triumph over Wigan Warriors in 1998 – turning down an offer to coach St Helens.
He was appointed coach of the new club – nicknamed Shuddersfield – in September 1999 but left the following July.
“It was a very unhappy time and one of the lowest periods of my coaching career,” writes Kear in his autobiography ‘Coaching Is Chaos’.
He adds: “When the merger was announced, I should have walked away. I stayed put and lived to regret it. The cultures at the Eagles and the Giants were very different … the players at Sheffield tended to be over-worked and under-paid, whereas it was the opposite at Huddersfield.”
Kear will be signing copies of his book at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield, tomorrow at 5.30pm
After Huddersfield, Kear led Hull FC to a Challenge Cup victory in 2005 and is now coach of Batley Bulldogs. But has never lost his fondness for the Eagles.
He pays tribute to the work Mark Aston – who won the man-of-the-match award in 1998 – has done in rebuilding a new Eagles in the second tier of the game.
“He (Mark) is a great reader of the game and that’s why he has done so well with Sheffield, despite limited resources,” he said. “Keeping the club alive has been a feat in itself, but now they are a top end of the Championship side and I was delighted when they won the 2012 Grand Final.
“Mark has done a fantastic job, still based on the old Eagles ethos of hard work and enthusiasm.
“I have a great fondness for Sheffield … and the club will forever have a place in my heart.”
Coaching Is Chaos, by John Kear with Peter Smith, by Scratching Shed Publishing Limited, price £14.99.