WOW where do I start?
Well they say you should start at the very beginning so I guess I will.
The rather aptly named Mount Pleasant was where it all started in a day many would choose to forget, but for me it was the opposite. It was something I continually used to look back on to motivate me having seen a well-deserved Batley side beat us with a celebration that was perhaps topped only by ours on Saturday.
I left the ground with my family to some humorous banter along with some vile abuse which really is unnecessary, especially when you have a young child holding your hand. As we were drove back I reflected on what had happened with all the distress and un settlement of the departure of the then coach.
I have to admit I ate my words that we would go unbeaten all season and my stress levels were higher than they normally were.
But I have always been a positive person and believe something good can come from something bad. You see, had we beaten Batley narrowly then we wouldn’t have dug into the cracks of that performance and analysed the club’s position from top to bottom.
As time progressed various issues were dealt with on a weekly basis and an extremely serious and concerning one in March, which I will not elaborate on here other than to say it is one of the worst things I have experienced. However again this served as a motivator and as the season progressed we batted away each issue firmly and became stronger, every time resulting in the forming of the Championship club of the year and a soon-to-be-crowned Super League club!
“Yo Adrian, we did it,” I said to my amazing supportive wife on Saturday as the realisation came with a couple of minutes to go.
My day had started early despite only getting back from Hull late from a week at the exhibition where I had enjoyed some friendly banter with the KR fans.
I wasn’t nervous in the slightest, I guess that was because it wasn’t a game with any pressure, we always had two more chances with Batley and Leeds to come.
I hadn’t managed to watch the second half properly at Hull KR so I popped it on while the family slept and got myself in the mood, reading fans’ anticipation and excitement about the day ahead.
That started to add some pressure as it was evident that the fans were expecting the job done there and then. I had a recruitment meeting planned with Jukesy at 12 before the game to just see where we were on figures as a lot of names were being suggested to us after the victory over Hull KR.
Bizarrely, or perhaps not, was the fact he explained the exact same feelings as me. It was surreal really.
I had left my suit shoes in Hull by mistake so opted to wear a pair the children had bought me for Fathers’ Day. This led to a different look for me but I felt good, something I hadn’t felt for some time with being largely overweight.
If I thought I felt good then that was nothing with how I was about to feel five hours later. The game itself certainly epitomised the old saying it’s a game of two halves. I couldn’t believe how well we had started and by contrast how poorly Huddersfield had started.
Before I knew it we were 18-0 up and the place was going crazy. The fans have been brilliant all year but to see that North Stand the way it was sent a shiver down my spine. It looked at one point that they were going to come back strong when camped on our line at 18-10 until Riddy seized an intercept before going the length of the field in amazing fashion muting to the cameras: “I’m too fast!”
The critical part of the first half where I thought we really had done it was when Riddy went over again just after the half-time hooter.
This brought me to my feet, I really did start to believe we could do it, and that try would have hurt them and maybe pushed them over the edge.
However I was conscious that they had been making yards fairly easy at times and were a very athletic and large side who had been full-time for years.
I was also conscious of the fact that we had shipped in lots of points in the latter stages of a game against London and Salford in the Qualifiers and we all know what happened at Bradford.
When Cory stepped Huby to go over I thought it was all over and we would carry on posting points, but the try got turned down which I still find strange having watched it 20 times. But it is a rule open to interpretation and I thought the officials yet again did a very good job.
Then it came the wave I had feared, quick tries in succession, and the margin was disappearing. As it got to 14 points I started to get really nervous and as it hit eight I could sense all those disgruntled with the club secretly wanting it to fail, getting excited and closer to the edge of their seats.
In a way it was perhaps a better way to do it having given them false hope. As Huddersfield lost the ball and Cory dropped on it I knew we had done it. What a marvellous performance from a fantastic group of lads.
A group of lads that have stuck together through thick and thin and embraced those that have been added.
It’s amazing really to see how quickly such a great team spirit has been forged. It’s not about me it’s about this town and the great people of it but when the crowd started singing my name I have to admit I felt very proud indeed, and I savoured every moment of it.
I was buzzing by how chuffed and excited the fans were, especially the young ones. We have a massive future generation which is vital to the future of this club. I could see close up just how much it meant to everyone.
By the time I had finished enjoying the moment with the fans all the players were already upstairs eating, having got showered and changed, so I had missed the dressing room celebrations. But I wouldn’t swap that experience at the end with the fans for anything. After the post match presentations I was emotionally drained.
I don’t know how the players cope as they must be the same whilst also physically drained. Laura suggested we got a sitter to watch over Rocky so we could celebrate but I opted to take him and his friend Noah for a sleepover with pizzas.
I had a busy day the following day with a return to Hull so I got an early night after sampling some cognac over the first half whilst replying to the vast amount of messages from friends and family.
I was up and at them at 7am and Laura was also up early as Rocky had a game for the Pirates Golds at 9am. She asked me had it sunk in yet which I wasn’t sure it had.
I headed down the M62 and was on the phone chatting to Jukesy about it all and discussing some of the names that had been put forward.
As I reached the Huddersfield junction I noticed the Bradford Bulls team bus heading the opposite way down the M62. I told Jukesy what I had seen and that it seemed early for them to be setting of as it was around 10am.
He rightly predicted they must have been playing a cumbrian side retorting “ what a transformation, they are off to Cumbria on a Sunday morning and I’m off for a shower before meeting Ando and the lads in the pub.”
It didn’t take him long to convince me to join him stating things like this don’t happen often come and make the most of it.
That was it I was off at the next junction flying past the Bradford coach which was as I found out later heading to Workington. I wasn’t aware that anything had been arranged although when I got home and looked at my texts the details were there from Ando.
I got changed and got my driver to pick me up before collecting Jukesy who informed me that the BBC wanted an interview and would be at the pub.
in the words of Lesley Crowther: “Come on down, the price is right.”
I had stated to a few people, namely the board and coaching staff, that if we had secured Super League by the time of the Batley game I was thinking of making it free to the town so that everyone and anyone could come and join in the celebrations and hopefully get the bug.
I wanted to see if there was the interest in the town to fill LSV if money wasn’t the obstacle. So before I got stuck into a few beers with the lads I confirmed that decision in the BBC interview. Little did I know what response that would get and whilst placing on record the appreciation and support of understanding of our season ticket holders, I would like to thank the LSV and its staff, namely Matt Lawton who runs the ticket office, for the manner they responded and coped with what has been a significant impact on their business.
I didn’t foresee people coming in their droves on day one queuing for hours to get a ticket and I hope this is a sign of things to come. I was asked would I be charging Batley fans which we are not.
Batley have had a fantastic season this year and this game will be John Kear’s last away game as a head coach before he becomes director of football at Wakefield and I think he should be applauded for what he has achieved and rightly deserving his award of coach of the year.
Batley fans should celebrate their success and join in the party whatever the result as they are winners already. I have no doubt they will sense the opportunity to get the even further increased funding of sixth place with a victory over us and maybe hope we I’ll be carrying a hangover, so I am sure it will be a cracking game of rugby.
Jukesy won’t mind me letting people know that everyone will get to have played a part in the Qualifiers and some great servants to this club will take to the field for the last time in a Leigh shirt and it is a fitting stage to pay them the respect they deserve with an emphatic send off.
It looks very much like it could end up being a lock out which would be a real statement to the rugby league community as to how big this club can be.
It’s an occasion and a game I don’t want to miss but logistically I have to be in Beaulieu that morning and in York that evening for a charity ball.
But there’s always ways and means so if you hear a helicopter over the stadium around 2.30 it will be me taking pictures of the LSV, hopefully full, before joining you all for the party.
Last night saw the awards which unfortunately I was unable to attend. I wrote weeks ago that I thought John Kear would get coach of the year and as I have just written I think it is a fitting end for him and well deserved.
What Jukesy has achieved is the greatest prize of them all and he can keep that space on his mantlepiece for the Super League coach of the year some day.
I think he has what it takes as he progresses and grows into it every week. The transformation in him since the first game at Batley is immense.
I was really pleased to learn Micky got the player of the year accolade after missing out at our own awards night. He has been amazing I cannot put into words here what he has meant to this club.
You talk about captain’s knocks, well this is above that. He has kept it together and led by example playing through pain threshholds others couldn’t. He is now without doubt in my mind the greatest hooker to have played for Leigh with what he has done this year on and off the field, and that’s what big statement from me to put him above my good friend and legend Kevin Ashcroft.
I was also pleased to see we picked up the club of the year award and I dedicate this to my fellow board members and all of the staff at the club who do an amazing job.
I won’t name them all here as I will miss someone out like I did last time in Gillian Jolley, who does a brilliant job as our retail manager, no doubt a part of the business that will now grow at pace. Every single person involved in this club from the person who can’t attend but is in the lottery at a pound a week to the club’s biggest sponsor, you have all played your part and deserve your success.
Enjoy it on Saturday I know I will! Hope to see you there!
Yours in sport, Degsy.