Well another close encounter with our rivals from across the border, and another victory claimed at the death from coming behind.
There can be no worse way of losing a game and it’s fair to say that Bradford threw everything at us in a game that had so much at stake for obvious reasons.
I visit the club on a Monday morning and discuss events of the week with the coaching team, including the game and any disciplinary outcomes, as well as various issues from the week.
I obviously have to be very careful how I put things so the best way is to probably say that had there been a video referee for the game there would have been a different outcome in terms of the difference in score lines, as the footage we dissected clearly showed Harrison Hansen score a try and that two of the tries scored against us came from forward passes, one that bobbled on the floor and was collected two metres further forward.
However I appreciate the video referee cannot be used for forward passes but it may have been looked at for a knock on which in my opinion is ultimately what it was, as the Bradford player tried to knock the ball to his winger without catching and passing it.
I appreciate it’s a tough job for the man in the middle and they can’t always get everything right and whilst I thought he
controlled the game well, it could be argued that his assistants could have helped him more in these circumstances.
When so much is at stake it is vital that accuracy is achieved especially when
it appears clear cut and right in front of one’s eyes.
That being said I thought it was another great advert for the Championship with a great atmosphere and I must pay credit to the travelling Bradford fans who made a cracking atmosphere, continuously supporting their team despite only bringing perhaps half of what they
did in the same fixture last year.
The crowd was 5,111, and again with Bradford not playing at home saw our crowd significantly higher than the total combination of all other Championship fixtures.
Indeed it was the fourth highest gate of the whole of English rugby league which in itself one could argue I should find pleasing. But I have to say I was disappointed with the attendance in all honesty.
Last year we had more than 7,000 for the same fixture so if we reduce the 1,000 that didn’t attend in support of Bradford, our own attendance must have been down by around 1,000 which is hard to understand for such a big game in a season where we have a quality side with many big names sat top of the league with a realistic shot at gaining Super
We will need to look at what we can do to promote the games more to attract more fans and I would urge all our fans to bring a friend to our next game to try to keep building the attendances.
I suppose it could be worse and I could be in the same situation as my good friend Marwan Koukash, who must be getting really concerned with his attendances at Salford only being around the 2,000 mark.
I fear the sport will end up losing such a great passionate character, who in my opinion has done so much for the game.
He has raised its profile in many areas and as my guest at the Bradford game that became evident when fans from Bradford and Leigh were asking for autographs and pictures with him.
This was further compounded by the silence in the banqueting suite post-match which is unheard of whilst he was interviewed with interest.
I can’t help but feel for Marwan. He has come into the game, thrown loads of money at it, recruited top class coaches, paid significant transfer fees to bring in the game’s big names and even granted access for £5 before reducing it to free to entice people to come and support their team. Unfortunately it appears that none of this has worked and he has stated that he has failed which for a man of his stature is perhaps a bold statement. I don’t really see it as failure but perhaps an insurmountable task. If something isn’t possible to achieve you can hardly fail attempting it. What more can the man really do?
In the end a club can only ever be as big as the town and people that support it rather than the aspirations of one man. In the end a backer like Marwan can only be the chicken to lay the egg to give the people of a town a club to support, but ultimately it needs that support to motivate the backer to continue keeping the egg warm.
I fear Marwan is becoming disillusioned and particularly at a time when he needs more support than ever. Under Tim Sheens they have some excellent players and if you look at the games they have lost by the narrowest of margins and reverse them along with returning the deducted points, you have a top-four side.
In life and in sport you need some luck and it just seems Salford haven’t had any. Perhaps they will get some tomorrow (Wednesday) at the hearing by Sports Resolution when they fight their corner for the return of the deducted points.
Given the league table there will be a few Super League sides watching that outcome with interest as a return of the points will really throw the cat among the pigeons.
On Salford’s future, unless the people of Salford can somehow rally together and show their support and belief that as a town they want a Super League club, I fear Marwan will walk away with his head held high safe in the knowledge he gave it everything he had but it wasn’t what was wanted by the town as a whole.
That will be a sorry day for rugby league, not just Salford, if it happens - and I for one hope it does not.
Talking of people being lost to the game, a couple of months ago it looked like Rangi Chase may have played his last game of rugby league which in itself was a shame and a loss to the sport of such a talented player.
I was really pleased to see the news that Rangi has signed at Castleford and will make a return to Super League with immediate effect. Having spoken to Rangi he is in a good place and has used his break wisely, spending time with his family and getting a clear focus on his life.
His life is rugby league and he knows that it’s what motivates him and what he does best and I am glad he has found his way back into it and with a club that he holds dear to his heart where he played his best rugby.
I have seen a lot of bitterness towards him on social media which to a point I can understand from people because they are not aware of the facts. Me and Rangi had a mutual respect and he could have played things completely different, let me tell you from first-hand experience.
He didn’t - he was honest and above board and we both did what was right for each other. That enabled us to move on and bring in players that have proven good additions and took away pressure from Rangi to enable him to recover and re-energise his focus on his life.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out for Rangi at Leigh but I don’t resent that for one minute.
If you don’t try things you don’t know and I am happy that we gave it a go. There was a reason for our paths crossing and I hope that Rangi delivers what he does best and finds a nice settled environment in which he can flourish.
Except obviously whenever he plays Leigh! On that front, part of our agreement is that he would not do that this year which looks unlikely anyway, unless of course Salford are successful in retrieving their points - then who knows we could see Rangi back at LSV, albeit watching from the stands!
So our Monday meeting was quite a good one knowing we need one win from three to retain the Championship shield for the third consecutive year.
We spent it largely focussing on our recruitment for next year, identifying targets, adding them to our list and making contact whilst removing those we were unable to convince to come without knowing we are in Super League.
We also looked at both tables to try and ascertain our fixtures and turnaround and I couldn’t help but feel for the pressure that must have been over at Bradford doing the same thing but to see how they would make the four.
I would not like to be in that position I can assure you with what is at stake and taking emotion aside I genuinely think in the best interests of rugby league we need Bradford to make the four. For selfish reasons it would suit that they didn’t, as they will be a big threat in there especially with players like Gaskell and Purtell to return, but to lose a full-time team from the four and that funding go to a part- time team that may not go full-time could be detrimental to the Championship.
On the other hand we could see a part time club like Batley make good use of such funds and flourish, I guess that is what it is all about.
We saw this year Sheffield use the funds to go full-time which for whatever reason clearly hasn’t worked out and at the same time we saw David Hughes again pump in serious money to maintain a full-time squad whilst not receiving the central funding which has been successful seeing them return back to that position for which I am very pleased for him and his staff.
Halifax remained part-time with their increased funding and again Richard Marshall has got them in the mix coming into this business end where they are in control of their own future to maintain that top-four spot again this year.
However, when doing our little calculations they have arguably the most difficult run in starting with us this weekend. There has been lots of speculation surrounding the importance of this fixture with people comparing it to last year when Bradford rested players ahead of the MPG which effectively saw us lose £337k in central funding.
That was their prerogative to do so in what was their best interests and it is us in that same position now. However we are a professional sports club with professional coaches and players and as yet haven’t won the Shield we are defending and to that end I don’t envisage Jukesy (inset) making too many changes in such a high intensity game.
Halifax will know what they need to do and are a very good side in their own right so will be difficult to beat in any event.
But everyone can rest assured that we will be playing to win and will field the personnel to give us the opportunity to do that.
In the end we all worked it through that Bradford would just make it and when you look back that touchline conversion to take a point against us at Odsal against all odds from way behind when most of their fans had already left might just be the point that makes all the difference to them making the four. For the good of the game it’s best if it does as I fear without the central funding they will end up a part time team and that would be a great loss to the game. Every minute counts? You bet!