Wire 22 Hull Sharks 22

We had loads more to write about if we got beat.

We had 800 words about Tony Smith, fans’ dick measuring contests on a certain Facebook site; there were long, meandering rants that included comparisons to Cults of Personality and all sorts.

It was really good.

But in the most Warrington thing ever, we snatched a draw when the whole world and his dog expected us to lose, so now all that will have to be put on the back burner until we next lose six on the bounce.

Halfway through the first half, did anyone else get the feeling that it had a touch of THAT Cas game about it?

Especially the second breakaway try that was gifted to Hull.

The first one, Kevin Brown’s pass being telegraphed about a month before he even saw it himself, had echoes of that Luke Dorn interception back in 2008.

But the reaction to the second, from sections of the south stand in particular, brought it all back.

The long, angry groan that started as the offload bounced off Ratchford’s chest, the utter helplessness of the Warrington team as Hull raced away, seemingly in slow motion, like when your biscuit breaks into your brew or you drop your phone on a pavement.

You know what you want to do, but you just can’t move quick enough to do it.

That feeling took us back to a conversation we had on the way back from Saints last week about the final days of Paul Cullen.

We’re both of an age where we remember how shit it was and how Cul turned us around: Allowed us to have pride in our team and allowed us to believe again.

As sickly sweet as that sounds, it’s exactly how it felt at the time.

There was a photo printed in the Guardian at the end of the Wakefield game at Wilderspool: Fist clenched, and a look of pride that only someone that genuinely loved the club could muster.

One that we’ve seen echoed on faces of supporters during Tony Smith’s tenure than at any time that we’ve been watching us (which incidentally goes back way before Super League and the famous 80-0 at Saints, so by the current criteria on social media, we are just about allowed an opinion on Warrington RLFC).

At 20-4 down, the mood in the gaff was very reminiscent of the day that Cullen went and the way that the feeling grew that he’d taken us as far as he could.

In our little sections of the South Stand at least, people were firmly expecting us to lose.

They were waiting for an error and they were looking for scapegoats. They were arguing amongst themselves (our little groups included.)

There was very little of the spite and bile of the Anderson/Plange era, just a resigned a resigned ambivalence. It was odd.

At the end of that first half, the questions of “has Smith taken us as far as he could?” had become definite statements – “Smith has taken us as far as he can.”

Then something strange happened.

Whether the half-time bevvies had just gone to our heads, or Tony Smith’s half-time team talk galvanised a fighting spirit so far absent from the team this year, but we looked a totally different team in the second half.

Not different enough, granted, and we’re not going to celebrate a draw, but we came from behind against a team at the top of the league, where only last week, we collapsed and rolled over from a similar position.

And in the stands, too.

People stopped arguing and started singing.

Almost in resignation that the game was gone and, has had been the tradition back in the day, The Great Escape tune echoed around for a good ten minutes and, as the team found a bit of its groove for the second time this year, the South Stand found a bit of its bite.

Marc Sneyd copping the ‘Welcome to Warrington’ treatment when he was suspected of making a bit more of his injury than there was confirming to the reigning Challenge Cup winners that they weren’t getting another easy ride here this year.

Granted, the artists-formerly-known-as-Gateshead weren’t great in the second half, but neither Leigh nor Saints were great in previous weeks but managed to turn us over.

Clark barged his way over from short-range in trademark fashion, before Russell confirmed his hat-trick when a long Kurt Gidley pass found the perma-tanned Scotsman in enough room to touch down in the corner.

A Kurt Gidley penalty as the clock ticked down levelled the scores and earnt us our first point of the season, though a few missed drop goal attempts from both teams threatened to snatch a last gasp victory.

In all honesty, Hull will see that as a point dropped, while we really, really, really, really, really, really, really have to start next week as we finished in Saturday and maybe, just maybe, kick start our season in earnest.

Whoever he is.

While we are here and we have already touched on it, we really do understand both sides of the Smith out debate.

It’s one that we had on that same car journey back from St Helens last week.

It’s been piss poor this year and, despite getting to two finals, it wasn’t overly inspiring for large sections of the last two or three seasons either.

The signings haven’t been the best – in fact, some of them have been outright shite – and the dropping of local lads in favour of imports that aren’t performing sticks in the craw.

We hate to point to Wigan as a shining beacon of all things great, but you have to admit that Shaun Wane sticks with the kids, he doesn’t bag them when they don’t play well and it paid dividends. For all of his positives (and there are many) we’re not sure that we can say that about Mr Smith.

Then there’s the opposite view.

As we’ve said, the pride and expectation level at the club has never been so high and that is largely down to him. We think that we owe him the time to try to turn this around.

We genuinely think that there isn’t a better option in Super League and very few available in the NRL at the moment of those that are (Ivan Cleary, Mick Potter, Jason Taylor, etc.) don’t really tickle collective pickles.

Our current mood is give him until the end of the season – we aren’t going down; even if we end up in the middle 8’s we’re not going to lose against the like of Featherstone and London – and look at it then.

The club really needs to make a statement of intent, though, either with the recruitment of a top quality coach – throw enough money at a top name NRL coach and surely they’d think about it – and/or with its on-field recruitment.

With the likes of Gidley and Sims and a host of others off contract this year, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able – or willing – to splash the cash and have the likes of Cuthbertson, Gale, Watkins, et al lining up in the primrose and blue next year.

If we’re serious about becoming the very best in the competition, we have to bring in some top quality signings in key positions.

For now, In Smith We Trust.


As a side note, did you notice how a couple of weeks after our rant about the Emerging Nations World Cup, the RLIF announced that one would be sorted for 2018?

We’re claiming that as our first campaign victory – you know, like the Guardian claimed it was all that it was all down to them when Peter Deakin and the council sorted out the HJ?

Off the back of that epic victory, we were saying that our next crusade should be hounding Matty Russell out of the club, a la Matt Rodwell in the bad old days.

Lo and behold, within 24 hours he scores a hat-trick. So we’re claiming sole responsibility for that too.

If you have anything that you want us to sort get in touch and we’ll have a bash.

Fucking hell, we’ve wrote loads anyway.

Nice one.



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