Sheffield Eagles set to welcome back fans for first time in 14 months with Betfred Championship favourites Featherstone Rovers in town
It’s been 14 long and eerily quiet months for Sheffield Eagles, but the club is finally set to welcome back fans this weekend.
March 15 2020 was the last time supporters were allowed inside a stadium to watch Mark Aston’s team. Three hundred and thirty-two of them saw a Challenge Cup fifth round win as rugby league briefly carried on as the rest of the UK’s sporting calendar was virtually wiped out owing the oncoming devastation caused by coronavirus.
The following day the sport was suspended at all levels and the country entered lockdown one week later.
After just over a year without matches, Eagles returned to action behind closed doors at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium in March.
Sheffield Eagles provide fans with stadium update
Now, after overcoming a recent Covid-19 outbreak in their camp, which forced the postponement of last weekend’s match against Halifax Panthers, it’s game on as lockdown restrictions ease.
"We’re certainly looking forward to getting the fans back,” said Aston, who described 12 months without his beloved sport as ‘worse than having your teeth pulled out’.
"Without fans you can hear everything, you can feel everything, it’s surreal. In all the years you have been involved there’s always been people there.
"It’s tough, it’s tough for the players because you need somebody to get behind you when you start flagging. If some fans are behind you then it might just pick you up.”
It might not get much easier with the support of the 350-odd fans expected as high-flying Featherstone Rovers are up next.
The league favourites have won all five of their matches so far, scoring an average of 39 points per game with just 10 conceded.
"Featherstone are probably one of, if not the top team in this competition,” admitted Aston.
"To have them first game our fans can come back, it will be a tough ask for us, but we will be doing our best to rectify the problems we have got and fetch the fans back with open arms to get a performance and result hopefully.”
Sheffield Eagles’ general manager, Liam Claffey, said the game was “absolutely” still going ahead on Sunday (4.30pm kick-off) despite two positive Covid-19 cases last week.
Sheffield currently occupy the seventh and final Betfred Championship play-off spot with two wins, a draw and two losses so far this season.