Saturday, 17 February 2018

Monday's Coming: Dewsbury Rams

For the third time of asking, Hornets endeavour to get this wretched 2018 season underway - on a somewhat unusual Monday night: again at the behest of the football club, whose game against Spurs has been selected by the BBC to entertain the nation on Sunday afternoon (sadly it clashes with The Spongebob Movie, so we’ll miss it).

And, yet again, the only story in town has been the state of the Spotland pitch.

After suggesting that its quicksand consistency constituted a danger (of sinking without trace, we assume), Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was shamed into an apology on Friday, after our landlords took the bold decision to re-lay the pitch this week. Dale Chairman Chris Dunphy told Press Association Sport: “It's beautiful… it's like a snooker table.”

Less impressed was Dewsbury Rams coach Neil Kelly who said in the Dewsbury Reporter this week:  “I am just disappointed that Tottenham have not agreed to fund our game to play it at Wembley. We can’t be 100 per cent sure that the game will even take place, but we need to prepare for it.”

Dewsbury have begun this season in better shape than last. Two home games have yielded a 20-12 win over Sheffield, and an impressive 0-12 defeat to London Broncos, who are tipped by many to make a charge for the top four this season, and who shoved 50 points through Barrow in Round 1).

The loss of two points to London was probably no great surprise, but the big impact was the loss of
gun half-back Gareth Moore, who was carried from the field with what looked like a heavy knock to the head injury following an off the ball incident . In typical robust fashion, it was put on report.

Moore was hospitalised on Sunday evening and will undergo mandatory concussion tests before a decision will be made on his availability for Monday.

After the game Kelly identified a lack of creativity and nous as key reasons for the defeat. Again, in the Dewsbury Reporter he said:  “We spoke in the changing room about the amount of possession we had in good positions, especially in the second half. It was probably enough to win three or four games…  Last week I commented that we weren’t smart enough, as we were giving away too many penalties, which gave Sheffield the opportunity to come and attack us.”

“Maybe we have neglected that in the last few weeks, and this game against London has shown that just banging your head against a brick wall isn’t good enough. Even though that is sheer, honest effort, we need to have more invention in last third of the field.”

Kelly has brought in nine new players this year to bolster his squad: Harry Woollard, Billy Hayes, Jared Simpson and Matty English from Huddersfield Giants, Kyle Trout from Sheffield, Jordan Crowther from Wakefield Trinity, Sam Day from Fev plus Rob Worrincy and Martin Reilly from Halifax.

They lined up last week as follows: Guzdek; Simpson, Glover, Hallett, Morton; Sykes, Moore; Sheriffe, Ward, Teanby, Crowther, Hayes, Brown. Subs: Speakman, Trout, Walshaw, English.

The Ram’s real threat  comes courtesy of the Paul Sykes/Gareth Moore axis at half back - a lethal combination of experience and innovation that turns a workmanlike side into something greater than the sum of its parts.

Hornets meantime have been battling away on a couple of fronts. On the playing side, we can only imagine the frustration of players and coaching staff as the 2018 train has got underway without them; whilst off the field the club continues to wrestle with a month in which it’s had zero revenue.

Indeed, you may well have seen our ‘online bucket collection’ on Just Giving, through which we hope to raise £5,000 to offset some of those losses. The response from fans across the game has been amazing - taking us almost a quarter of the way to our target, having raised £1165 so far.

As fans/members/owners of our club, all we can do is implore you to help. We will have at least one actual bucket at the game on Monday evening, so please do dig deep and help get Hornets through this horrible period.


Let’s get behind the guys in numbers on Monday night - they’ve been slogging their guts out all winter for this moment, and they deserve our backing. And don’t forget - under 16's go free on Monday night, with a full paying adult.  One more time: Let’s do it folks. See you there.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Sunday's Coming: Swinton

Whilst we’re all now champing at the bit to get 2018 underway, all talk of the last week has been of the Batley postponement and the consequent financial implications.

At its most basic, the loss of one of February’s three games deprives our club of 30% of it’s forecast revenue for the month and - after our observations last week of the impacts of the off-season budgetary issues - creates yet another financial hurdle to be negotiated.

Yes, we know that the 25 year lease on Scotland contains a clause whereby any game postponed at the behest of our landlords incurs a compensation payment, but the money that the Batley game would have yielded is needed right now to cover immediate costs.

And, if that situation wasn’t enough to make you shudder, the football club’s continued participation in the FA cup brings Spurs to Spotland for a televised tie on the day we should be playing Dewsbury (our suggestion: switch it to Wembley, have a big day out, pocket the cash and buy some grass seed).

As we said last week - testing times for all concerned.

As for the pitch situation, it has been mentioned endlessly in the media this week, variously between ‘limiting’ and ‘disgraceful’. Word reaches us that the football club has put the groundsman on gardening leave. God help his garden.

Having fought off their own financial demons last year, a new board looks to have steadied the Swinton ship for 2018. Key to that is the recent conformation of their dual-registration agreement with Wigan for 2018

Speaking in the the M.E.N, Swinton chairman Andy Mazey said: "With a tight budget and a small squad this year whilst we rebuild our club sustainably, the partnership with Wigan provides us with the ability to source quality players to supplement our squad when Stuart deems it necessary.”

The Lions began their 2018 campaign with a trip to Toulouse, where they were on the wrong end of a 32-point battering as TOXIIIC logged eight individual try scorers.

Swinton shipped five tries in the last quarter of an hour to go down 46-14. Interestingly, their only points of the second half came from the boot of Hankinson, futilely kicking into the 20-12 half-time deficit  after 56 minutes.

Swinton lined up:
1 Gabriel Fell
2 Mike Butt
3 Chris Hankinson
4 George Tyson
5 James Worthington
6 Danny Ansell
7 Jack Hansen
8 Andy Bracek
9 Hayden Hansen
10 Kyle Shelford
11 Rhodri Lloyd
12 Matt Sarsfield
13 Josh Barlow
14 Oliver Davies
15 Oliver Partington
16 Chris Worrall
17 Connor Taylor

Swinton also took a bit of an off-field bruising: we hear reports that one of their fans was jumped in Toulouse, suffering a broken cheek-bone and a stolen mobile. We wish him a quick recovery.

Coach Stuart Littler has undertaken what the Lions website describes as an ’extensive squad rebuilding’ exercise, bringing in nine new faces

We have Swinton’s 2018 intake as:
Kyle Shelford and Gabriel Fell (both Wigan), Marcus Webb and Danny Ansell  (both Hunslet)
Jesse Jo Sherriffe (Keighley), Chris Worrall (University of Gloucestershire All Golds), Hayden Hansen (Redcliffe Dolphins), Conor Taylor (Warrington) and the Championship’s favourite loose-cannon/sociopath George Tyson from Oldham.

Traditionally, there’s never been very much between ourselves and Swtinton so, as always, we are anticipating a close fought encounter at Heywood Road - and as our delayed season debut, it’d be good to get down there in numbers and make some noise.

AND DON’T FORGET: TLCRF80mins will be having a whip round on Sunday to raise some cash to help Hornets fill the financial hole left by the postponement of the Batley game, which deprives  us of 30% of February’s forecast revenue. We’re trying to get 500 RL fans to chuck in a tenner, with £5,000 our target, so please dig deep and help keep us start the season in as positive a way as possible.