Wakefield joined Rochdale Hornets on the small but prestigious list of teams that Warrington have beaten 80-0. The traditional kits of both clubs are actually very similar and Hornets’ coach that night – our old mate Bobbie Goulding – had a stint at the Wildcats in his career. Very worryingly for Wakefield, the similarities between the two clubs might not end there.
When Goulding brought his team to the HJ on that cold night in 2004, he had assembled the majority of the players from the local amateur game in Widnes and botched together a side that eventually just stayed afloat in what was the National League One.
It’s known as the Championship these days and if Wakey want to avoid ending up in that division next season, they will have to do what Goulding’s men did that year and beat a red-hot Leigh Centurions side later on in the season. At least.
It’s not nice to see a club go through what Wakey are at the minute. Unless, of course, it was happening to Widnes, but anyway… They’re absolutely penniless by all accounts and word from the club is that is restructuring their budget to avoid the huge financial losses they experienced a few years ago.
It doesn’t feel like that long ago since it was us in that situation. A decrepit old ground, a vocal but ultimately small following and a team that was getting dicked every week. They’re doing it tough, as the sporting cliché goes.
Having lost four in a row, though, Wire were not in a charitable mood and ran in 14 tries, despite a bit of squad rotation that saw Dec Patton make his first team debut and Gene Ormsby return to the squad while Penny and O’Brien were rested. Two try Toby King, in at centre in place of Ryan Atkins, was named Man of the match.
Wakey’s team, depleted as it was by injury and suspension, included our very own Chris Riley and Lee Briers’ brother-in-law Craig Hall. There was no repeat of last year’s hat-trick for Riley as the much-maligned defence looked more like the stingy, solid unit it threatened to be in pre-season rather than the soft bag of shite it had been for the last month or so.
Looking more fluid in attack than we have recently, too, the ball was spread about well and Patton combined well with Myler and Ratchford seamlessly. He helped himself to a try while Myler bagged a hat-trick.
Patton and Ormbsy impressed so much against the Trin that they have kept their place in the squad for Thursday’s trip to the Dave Whelan Stadium, while Toby King will keep his place ahead of Ryan Atkins who has a sternum injury.
The clash with Wigan will be extra tasty – as if it could be – with it marking Smokin’ Ben Frazier’s return to action after his release from Strangeways for his assault on Lance Hohaia in the Grand Final.
John Bateman also returns to the Crust Muncher’s squad while Sean O’Loughlin becomes the first Wigan player in history to NOT make his return from injury in time to face Warrington.
It’s our first meeting with the Cherry and Whites since that gut-wrenching play-off semi-final last season and a will provide a good indication of how far we’ve come since that night. We were second best up front back then and lacked a bit of game smarts when we were in good position.
Wigan themselves come into the game on the back of a dominant win against Catalans at the weekend. Neither result will have either team quaking in their boots this week – Catalans have been shite on the road all year, while Wakefield look set to be the whipping boys for the rest of the season – but what it will do is create a bit of confidence amongst both sides, which can only be good for the neutral.
This fixture has always been huge for us – and Wigan have always enjoyed it too – but in recent years it has become a real highlight of the season due to the fact that both clubs are challenging for honours these days. For those of us who were brought up on the iconic images of Mike Greg’s try at Wembley and Paul Cullen chasing Andy Goodway down the tunnel at Wilderspool to smack fuck out of him in a game that was referred to as ‘World War 3’, this is perhaps the biggest rivalry of our three local ‘derbies’.
Wigan are absolutely nailed on to announce Sam Tomkins’ return either at half-time or before kick off, just a figurative ‘fuck you’ to us. The best, the only, way to respond would be to leave town with the two points and lay a real marker down for the rest of the season. Now the fucking Wire.