2015 promises to be a landmark year for Leigh winger Steve Maden.
With a busy testimonial programme planned which includes a game between a Centurions Select XIII and a combined Leigh Miners/Leigh East team on Thursday (February 19, 7.30pm), Maden has had to juggle training, working and admin.
And while he may not be a first team regular anymore, Maden is happy to be involved on the coaching staff at Leigh as he gets used to life on the sidelines.
“Leigh coach Paul Rowley and Derek Beaumont (head of rugby) have always been honest with me and I knew last season that my first team chances would be limited,” he said.
“The intention was always to try and win the Championship and of course we did that in some style. But I didn’t have a problem with not playing every week that and enjoyed taking my first steps in coaching and helping out behind the scenes.”
Maden worked alongside reserves coach Paul Anderson as well as playing last year. Like the first team, Leigh topped the table before winning the Grand Final in dramatic fashion against Sheffield Eagles with a last minute try.
“Ando (Paul Anderson) is a brilliant coach and he was the one who got me involved. I’ve really enjoyed it and looking ahead it it something I’d like to continue with when my playing career comes to an end.”
Although best known as a winger, he has also played in the centre, full-back and even in the back row during a career which has included two spells at Leigh.
He actually started out at Leigh in the academy but after only a couple of weeks was offered a contract with Warrington where he spent 12 months.
Maden moved to St Helens but with the likes of Martin Gleeson and Paul Newlove ahead of him in the pecking order, it didn’t work out and in 2004 returned to Leigh, then coached by Darren Abram.
He played a good number of games that season as Centurions won promotion to the Super League though bad luck with injury meant he missed both the Grand Final success over Whitehaven and the Arriva Trains Cup Final victory against Hull KR.
Maden was full-time during Leigh’s one season in Super League before going to Whitehaven.
“I actually signed two different contracts with Whitehaven,” said Maden. “One was full-time and one part-time and it depended how Whitehaven did in the Grand Final against Castleford. I flew out to Turkey for a holiday on the day of the final. So I was on the plane not knowing who’d won - it felt like a very long flight!
“So I was gutted when we touched down and I found out Whitehaven had lost. But I had a great time at Whitehaven. They are a club that’s a lot like Leigh in that they really look after their players. At that time there was me, John Duffy and Rob Jackson making the trip up there from round here for training and games so we had some really good times on that motorway.”
Maden returned to Leigh for 2007 - to play under coach Darren Shaw and was part of the team which said farewell to Hilton Park.
When Centurions relocated to the Sports Village, Maden was again a first team regular for several seasons.
But in 2014 with the emergence of Liam Kay and Andrew Higson as regular wingers, Maden’s chance were limited though he continued to enjoy training and playing in the reserves.
With a testimonial on the horizon, Leigh offered him a contract for 2015. The first event of his fund-raising year was a race night at Golborne Parkside which proved a great success.
As well as a sell-out crowd, Centurions players came along to show their support along with some of Maden’s friends from the game, Stefan Ratchford and Chris Hill from Warrington and Iain Thornley of Wigan.
A game between a Centurions select and a combined Leigh East/Leigh Miners side at Leigh East’s ground is next on the agenda on Thursday.
“There will be a lot of first teamers involved,” said Maden. “It will give Paul (Rowley) the chance to give players gametime with the new season underway.”
Leigh prop Tom Spencer will be making his long-awaited return after injury. There will also be a chance to see some of the Centurions’ exciting youngsters who enjoyed preseason wins over North Wales Crusaders and Oldham.
The squad is: Lee, Swift, Pitman, Baggaley, Reynolds, Hansen, Liku, Foster, Halton, Dixon, Tracey, Maden, J Peet, Rowe, Cox, Harper, Jukes, Hill, Warburton, Belshaw, Williams, Knox. The game was originally scheduled for February 5 but postponed because of a frozen pitch.