I don't think any of us can really learn anything without first opening our minds to new information and points of view. I've read this thread and I've seen people advocate the merger of three clubs and witnessed them rebuff without reasoning any counter argument. I think the point that I was trying to get across in my earlier post is that this is not one common market of fans that the clubs are fighting over. There are of course small pockets where I suppose in the Normanton/Altofts area a case could be made for this being the case on a three way split, but that is only one part of Wakefield MDC, and as I have stated previously Wakefield MDC doesn't have a shared identity whatsoever. Perhaps there should be a new club in Normanton. It's bigger than Featherstone and smaller than Castleford if you're wondering, sounds like a winner?
People from Cas are more likely to identify with Leeds than Wakefield, as are people from Wakefield in preference to Castleford. The Calder region simply doesn't exist, other than in the minds of those that promised untold riches at the advent of Superleague. Those using the region as the basis for their arguments are seriously undermined by the physical and cultural geography of Wakefield, Castleford, Featherstone and the surrounding towns and cities. Transport links between the three conurbations where the clubs are not great, and as stated before so any joint venture would have to overcome this. Belle Vue sits on the very east of Wakefield, the side where both Cas and Featherstone are, and yet draws no support from Featherstone or Castleford, although it does draw healthy support from Crofton/Hemsworth and Normanton.
Wakefield are now approaching crowds of 8000 on a regular basis for the first time in my lifetime, and with tangible progress being made towards a new stadium it's conceivable that they could emulate the success we have all enjoyed seeing Warrington achieve. Wakefield is out gunning neighbour Huddersfield crowd wise who have had years of significant investment from Ken Davey, sit in a big modern stadium and have reached two challenge cup finals in recent years.
Whether your imagined district could support more than one superleague is one for debate, but I'd fancy that Wakefield alone is big enough to do so alone. I can't speak for Castleford or Featherstone with any certainty, but if Wakefield could get the same proportion of locals attending games as Castleford and Featherstone do they will be a very well supported club indeed. I think your quesiton needs to be rephrased though. Can each team (regardless of where they are, Wakefield, Wakefield MDC, West Yorkshire, London, Greater Manchester, Cumbria) support a superleague side? To pick out the three in the imagined Calder region is lazy, tiresome and unsporting.
I've always wanted to support a contender, just so long as that contender was my team, and it's never stopped me supporting my side regardless of their standing. If we all supported Wigan because of their dominance in the 80s and 90s where would that leave us? Only one team can win the league each year, so all the others have failed. That's a tough pill to swallow, somebody always comes last, even if you reduce the league, there will always be a winner, and many many more losers. If you haven't done so already, I suggest you visit Belle Vue for a big game and sample the atmosphere now that the ground improvements have been made, and then tell the world that Wakefield haven't got a chance.
Sport is broadly cyclical, Trinity seem to be on the way up, Castleford look to be struggling at the moment, and people in Featherstone seem very happy with their progress. One thing is for certain, things don't remain constant in sport and Castleford may well have their day again soon. Perhaps it'd be more convenient to the argument that you and others keep making if Trinity fans were to stick the boot in to Castleford. There's no need to do that, it's a tough sport, and it's a sport I love. Less is not more.
So in summary, I think the barriers to creating a regional team for a wholly fictitious region cannot be overcome, however I respect your right to different opinion. I do however get frustrated at the constant drum beating that the three clubs should merge, from people who should know better, but haven't taken the time to find out either about the geography of the different areas involved or the identity of communities therein.
*Correction to earlier post. Xscape is being marketed as “Xscape Yorkshire” these days, but it was “Xscape Leeds” on their website the last time I looked before this evening.
Some good points here.
The one thing I take exception to though is your idea that sporting success is cyclical. This was probably largely true until about the mid 80s. Now investment and support base are so important in this commercial and TV age that we simply can't turn a blind eye to the huge gulfs in these areas that were less a problem and more of a quirky bit of fun prior to this period. You say Wakey have 8K or so fans and I agree. So do my team Hull KR. But as long as Leeds regularly attract 18K, Wigan 16K and Saints 15K, this gap represents a massive problem. For sure, some of the gap could be bridged by a run of form or good luck or whatever as the figures move either way on the back of the odd good or bad season but realistically, by how much? It's hard to conceive that either Wakey or Hull KR will ever be near enough to those behemoths to be genuine, long-term contenders and this is an obstacle that needs to be overcome. Currently, benefactors only want to invest in those popular, successful RL "brands" or - in the case of Dr Koukash - ones with a bigger obvious upside. Similarly, "A list" players only want to play for these same sides. Differences of culture, difficult transport links, whatever - we simply need more behemoth brands that will either attract instant investment or at the very least, long-term belief that they can work. You seem to be offering the past as a reason why clubs like Wakey have a bright future. This is very noble and I would say in your case also very genuine. Instinctively, though, I have to think that you're wrong and I have the NRL and all of the US sporting leagues (in direct comparison with the Euro soccer leagues etc.) to back me up. Whereas you have....faith. Whatever the rights and wrongs, practicalities and impracticalities, we know what a modern, restructured league looks like. Whereas I honestly think yours is the bigger gamble anyway as it leads us to who knows where.
Edited by DeadShotKeen, 24 April 2013 - 11:32 AM.