Day 46

“….and now for something completely different” (Monty Python)

Well, maybe not that different – a professional sports club, financial “issues” and photos at a new stadium.

It’s Sunday and it’s been a long week. I am treating myself to a quiet day. I have a meal and a sofa promised by BNI Regional Director, Alan Higham. He is less than an one hour’s cycle away ….and not a mountain in sight. The world is sweet!

Just up the road from my hotel is the new Halton Stadium (AKA Stobart Stadium after the sponsor, Eddie Stobart) which was built on the site of the old Naughton Park. It would be rude of me not to pop in!

Now the clever thing is to have a GREAT team and a GREAT stadium at the SAME time but sadly this is something Widnes Vikings Rugby League have not quite got right. When I was a huge Bradford Northern fan in the 70, 80s and 90s Widnes were one of the very top teams with a squad full of household names Bowden, Elwell, Jim Mills (the hardest man I have ever met) Jonathan Davies, Hughes, Laughton, Wright etc etc. I remember some titanic battles at both Odsal and Naughton Park.

Widnes also had one of the worst stadiums in the country! Now, they have a terrific stadium but are not even in the Super League. Yet, just 20 years ago they were the first ever club to win the world club championship and were always in the chase for one bit of silverware or other. Great team – lousy stadium. Somewhat ironic!


6 Responses to “Day 46”

  • John:

    Pathetic post….shows how little you know about the current state of Widnes Vikings RLFC and rugby league in general.

    Due to the new Super League licensing clubs have to apply for a license to enter Super League which are reviewed every 3 years. Widnes should have got one last time round, but due to the previous management driving the club into administration the club were refused a license.

    3 years later the club are today in a much better position than any club in our league and have a stadium that is 10 tens better than the majority of the current Super League clubs.

    We are also restricted by a salary cap in this league of £300,000 compared to the Super League salary cap of £1,600,000.

    Widnes have made leaps and bounds in the past 3 years, they have stable management in the form of Steve O’Conner as chairman, the backing of the Stobart Group as sponsors and have invested heavily in the youth setup running at total of 5 teams within the club at different age levels to bring through more young British talent into the league. You look at the majority of Super League clubs who are recruiting over the hill Australians to boost their squads which is doing nothing for our national game as British youngsters are not getting as many opportunities to play at the highest level.

    As a result of this investment Widnes have by far the best youth system in out current league, and also puts a lot of Super League Clubs youth systems to shame.

    The on-field performance may not be as good this year, but this is due to the fact that the club have been hit with a massive injury crisis. Probably the worst in the clubs history. As a result the club this season have not been able to field their best 13 all season.

    If you are going to write an article that condemns Widnes as a fledgling club…..I suggest you understand the bigger picture and actually research some facts before putting pen to paper for a one angled story.

  • Steve Hall:

    Hi John, thanks for taking the time to write such a comprehensive overview. I spent two days in Widnes and spoke to many, many Widnes fans although to be fair most wer 50 years plus and spoke of the Chemics rather than the Vikings.

    I would have thought you would have read from my post that I had a huge respect for Widnes and although a massive Northern fan always enjoyed our games against Widnes and looked forward to them as a highlight of the season whereas Wariington, say, was “just another game”

    For me, it is very sad indeed NOT to see them in Super League as (although no club has a divine right to be there) I think that the current franchise set-up does not respect the heritage and history of the game. If you go to the Sports Bar in the new stadium you can see some great photo montages of the many Widnes triumphs over the years but sadly the likes of Karalius, Mills and Bowden are no longer there. (Great montage of the 1989 World Club Championship with a smiling Kurt Sorensen. From my memories of him, that’s how I would prefer to face him! GREAT player)

    I wish you every success in your new bid and hope that once again Widnes WILL be a great club in a great stadium.

  • Janice Westfall:

    Hi Steve: Just saying “hi” after reading your PM to me on expatforum. I assume you’re yakking about some sport I don’t understand up there in the other comment. Will I ever get to meet you in Spain??? or…?? All the best. I applaud your support of refugees. I had some refugees from Sudan as tenants in Montreal a few years ago. Wonderful peolple with whom we maintain contact. Again, our prayers follow you..Jan

  • Steve Hall:

    Hi Janice

    Nice to catch up with you. Very interested to hear about your Sudanese friends. Sure, we will meet in Spain some time ….. look forward to it and I will tell you all about today. Woke at 5am. Saw that it was driving rain and that I had the toughest day of my journey to look forward to. I have to climb Shap in Cumbria and get over the other side of the mountain in daylight as my refugee budget won’t run to lights for the bike. Realised that the only pair of trainers I possess had huge holes in them and that I’d be soaked wet through all day ……. and that I have nowhere to stay tonight. Got to make a decision …… buy a pair of trainers or eat today.

    The life of a refugee! Fortunately I have friends like you. Saleem, Kwa, Ernesto and others do not.

    Have a great day …..I will as when I get over the mountain I have an offer of a bed for tomorrow night. I can look forward to that today.

  • Janice Westfall:

    GO, can do it! I need to learn more about what you’re up to. One gets so involved in one’s own “problems” which are laughable in the face of the reality of a large part of the world. Gosh, I was actually crabby because I have to go prepare myself something to eat..resentful because I can’t eat in restaurants all the time..need to refocus here away from soon…Janice

  • Steve Hall:

    Well I have a daily blog here (when I can get on the web!) and hopefully that keeps people up to date.

    Thanks for following


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