Sheffield Eagles begin life at Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium with win over Widnes Vikings
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A new, long-awaited era is under way in the history of Sheffield Eagles, who finally made their return to the city in front of a restricted but boisterous crowd at the Olympic Legacy Park Community Stadium on Monday evening.
The match, a six-try 34-24 win over Windes Vikings – from 12-0 down – was almost inconsequential, but welcome nonetheless.
Among the official crowd of 795 were two new faces, David Curry from Hoyland and Bryan Pell from Dodworth.
“I always wanted to support Sheffield but I never knew where they were,” David said in reference to the the club’s nomadic existence, which has included stops in Doncaster, Featherstone and Wakefield over the last 12 months.
“I would rather support someone in South Yorkshire, but they were just never here.”
Instead, David opted for Castleford. But this year he bought a Sheffield season ticket.
"It will be even nicer when it’s done,” he said of their new home, which still needs some finishing touches.
A hill overlooking the pitch made for an impromptu viewing platform for some of those fans who found themselves locked out, and in typical Sheffield fashion Monday’s kick-off was pulled back for a false start.
"I have always felt Eagles, from the very beginning, have been up against it,” said Bryan, who usually follows Super League outfit St Helens.
"I have always felt sorry for Eagles, they are my second team. It’s a shame there weren’t a few more here (tonight).”
It was hoped as many as 2,000 fans might have welcomed the club back to the city, had the attendance not been capped for safety reasons.
“If you think what Wednesday and United get and there’s only one rugby league team in Sheffield you should expect a few thousand,” added David.
"They should at least be challenging Bradford (Bulls) for support."
Bryan said: “To say they have not got much support, Eagles have done very well.”
The club’s future, it is hoped, will be much brighter than its recent past.
"Where it is now they have got so much potential,” said David, “this is like Sheffield’s sports quarter.
"They have really got the potential to do a lot better.”
“It’s lovely to be home,” remarked another fan before kick-off.
No one would disagree with that.