Derek Beaumont column: Batley defeat made me eat my words

Leigh's Tom Spencer in action at Batley
Leigh's Tom Spencer in action at Batley

There’s an old saying to eat your own words and despite my best efforts I was unable to quite manage to eat the page from the Leigh Observer from a few weeks back!

I haven’t had time to take a look at the aftermath of our defeat yet in media circles, but I did see a humorous collage of me sinking in the proverbial which I thought was good banter.

What is interesting is it doesn’t state “the end” as clearly it does “the beginning” so I am sure there will be more banter attached to it as the season progresses and hopefully with a happy ending for Leigh Centurions.

Talking of humour, I was appalled that this paper chose to print a picture of our official squad with Paul Rowley defaced on it and, when challenged about it, responded that it was just a bit of fun that seemed well received by the fans.

I am pretty sure that will not have been seen as fun by Paul and his family and, having dedicated my column to his great achievements, I was shocked with what I saw.

By virtue of my relationship with the paper, I restricted our media director Mike Latham from making a complaint regarding the defacing of an official photograph.

In my opinion this was disrespectful and more akin to what one would expect in an opposition’s local paper.

Whilst on the subject I have had lots of contact surrounding comments made by Paul that I have chosen not to read or listen to.

I prefer to maintain my integrity and stay true to my morals by not commenting further as, like him, I had stated in my release that I would not do. I have no desire to listen to the audio as it would only serve to test my resolve in staying true to myself which I would not break so I will leave it at that.

I am sure with time it will all be forgotten and I will be able to look back with no regrets and with my integrity intact.

Despite Sunday’s loss to Batley, I also have no regrets in trusting Neil Jukes to lead the team to achieve our goals.

I have never been one for making excuses and have always been happy to take it on the chin and that I will do on this one.

My only reservation from last year, which I addressed with the RFL, was that while Wakefield consistently lost last season, they lost at a Super League pace. On the other hand, we won consistently but at a Championship pace save for certain games; the obvious ones being the Bradford games. I feel it is vitally important, for the new structure to work, to have a consistent ruck speed in both competitions so that when the two meet nobody in the Championship is at a disadvantage by having to up the pace.

It is pointless having a side of Super League, NRL and international players if there is no benefit to it in terms of the pace the game is played at.

In simple terms it is like buying a Ferrari to enter into a race with a 30MPH speed limit when a much cheaper car will give you the same chance under those restrictions.

That being said I don’t want to take away from what Batley obviously enjoyed as an emphatic victory, judging by their celebrations; they should be immensely proud of their achievements.

Their effort and commitment was there for all to see, although I must confess I did struggle myself towards the end in the absence of any floodlights.

Batley are a great club steeped in history and have a ground with character that they make the most of.

John Kear is a respectable and successful coach and will deservedly be proud of his troops.

I enjoyed sitting in the square with pie and peas and the obligatory pint, mixing with our outstanding fans.

The travelling support was immense and to hear the vociferous red and white army, when the boys came out to warm up, made the hairs on my neck stand up – or maybe it was the bone chilling weather!

What pleased me the most was the encouraging words from our fans that I bumped into making my way to and whilst on the car park, they far outweighed the insults I encountered from some Batley fans – but I put that down to banter and take no issue with it.

I have stated many times that I take great pleasure in seeing people happy and live by the philosophy that whilst you can’t change the world you can change the expression on someone’s face.

Our defeat enabled a few hundred Batley fans to enjoy a big smile and have some fun and, whilst that probably saw near on 2,000 Leigh fans heading home bewildered and disappointed, in the end I drew comfort from the enjoyment of the Batley fans.

They deserve their enjoyment, our fans have had two years of smiling and I am more than confident we will serve up many more results and performances this season to see them smile many more times again.

One thing I didn’t do was look back at the winning monkey as I chucked it off my shoulder for a third year running, this time much earlier, and I wish it a safe journey wherever it decides to nestle down next.

It only has six choices and I think I know which one it will pick!

Editor’s note: The alteration of the Leigh poster in last week’s new season supplement was intended to be light-hearted, in wake of Paul Rowley’s 
departure. We apologise for any disrespect caused – it was certainly not our intention.