Wishing all correspondents a Happy Christmas, an even happier Boxing Day and prosperous New Year. Thanks to everyone who has commented on our forum this year for keeping their posts humourous, informative and most of all clean and polite, makes moderator's and administrator's jobs easy.
Whoever said we're weak in the props: Rowe, Lillycrop, Hesketh, Gledhill, for starters, Brev has played there reasonably successfully, and we have a number of second rowers who can step up and spell each other, so i reckon choice of about 7 blokes can step up to the plate. Hooker? Nicholson spelled by Leek, Blake to fill in there if we bring on a loose forward sub. our one weakness is at halfback, with only Southernwood and Leatherbarrow backed up again by Leek, so one of our 24th or 25th signings needs to be a half with experience. Fullback and wings are well covered, centres will be Ok this time, Faal, Squires, Grayston, Ainscough and again Brev to fill in when neccesary, Chandler as well as well as Day as someone seems to think. I think we've built a squad where any number of players can capably step into any number of situations. The first 3 games will be important, they'll set the scene. Get 6 points out of them and we're sailing, full of confidence which will keep those not playing happy, being part of a winning outfit.,
Yes, agree with the plea for a centre and also we do need an experienced old head to pull it all together. We've certainly put together a very young, athletic, never say die side, but our oldest head now appears to be Brev, who, in all honesty, may not feature too often unless he's dropped into the threequarters again. I know the club and BISSA are working very hard to secure players, and I also know how hard it is to attract the right 'old head' for the money available. That said, i think we've put together a squad which clearly wants to play here instead of some players who may think it's their last decent payday before retirement. These young lads really are Gallant Youths (please, let's get that name back into use!!).
There actually is a serious point to this; regardless of our affinity to the club it can't be argued that, knowingly or not, we broke the rules, as did Whitehaven the season before. That Whitehaven's case wasn't picked up is to their advantage. Ours unfortunately was and along with Doncaster we were punished. The fact that the RFL reversed that decision (still no word from them on the reasons why 20 days after it was promised) was a stroke of luck, but that doesn't make it right. Ignorance of any rule etc is no defence, and the RFL have now created a precedent which allows any club to knowingly or not break rules in the future knowing that they can appeal on the understanding that Batley and Doncaster got away with it, and they will expect the same result. I think that we can count ourselves very lucky and should keep our heads below the parapet if fans of another club choose to question our good fortune. We would have been employing the same effort if a team had received that same luck and relegated us.
I'm a little confused too by our 'fast' threequarter line thread. We have Campbell, Ainscough and Rettie competing for wings, Squires and Faal as centres, plus fill ins from Chandler and Bretherton and possibly Grayston, seeing as nobody can yet pick a position for him. Craven will be first choice full back surely, so whilst I would say that the threequarters will certainly be robust and strong, other than JC there's nobody going to break any sprint records. The strength will be in the strength if you see what I mean, not only in the backs but throughout the team, as I think this year's squad, whoever plays each week 1-17 will be a formidable unit to break down and get past.
Not much between the teams? 25 points says yes!! Some idiot from Dewsbury either tweeted or emailed in to Radio Leeds after the game having a go at Batley cos he thought we don't appreciate your progress, well let me tell him that most of us Dogs fans will always wish Dewsbury well in everything except obviously when we play each other, and no Dewsbury fan had any greater desire for that win than me. Halifax, the great We Are (not) who think they only have to breath and get a place in Super League, well they're not in the semis are they, and weren't last season either, when both our 'little nobody clubs' were and are, so tough. From a Dog to The Rams, bloody well done!!
Why won't we see him in a Batley shirt again? He's been no worse than many others this year, Fax fans still like him and would have him back by the sound of things. I hope Lee reads this, I think he's been very hard done by. The RFL seem more interested that some wimp's feelings don't get hurt than actually coming down on people who actually commit foul play and actually hurt someone. Pat loses his cool in a tense situation and gets banged like nobody's business, yet someone like Sinfield for example sticks the nut on somebody, then cries how sorry he is and gets away with a 2 match ban. The current and recently past officers of the RFL have spoiled our game beyond all recognition over the past 10 or so years, changing so many rules, bending over backwards to please the Aussies so that we hardly recognise it any more, and now they don't even figure that foul play is actually a crime anymore, instead following the national trend of looking after any minority or whatever at the expense of the game. Lee, ignore what's being said, stick with it boy and give it another year, all these fans who plead with us every week to 'support the lads' then in the next breath rip their guts out.
Blake could have played 6, but then if Nicholson had been straight in at 9 we'd have been a man short as sub. As Kear likes 4 forwards, then as you say Martin isn't quite big enough, but we were told that he was a centre/2nd rower when he signed, so who's judgment is right? We then put Brev in the centre who doesn't like playing there by his own admission. Everybody complains about Faal, why? He's had a few good games for us but has never had a long run in the side, even when not suspended, and he always did well against us for Dewsbury. Then of course we've got the rediculous situation of 2 forwards out on loan, whilst we're borrowing off somebody else, and we're told that we couldn't bring 1 back because it was still within the first month of his loan. Pardon? If we're short, then that loanee is our player, clubs who have loaned us players have been quick enough to have theirs back when needed, why not us? This season has been a complete disaster on the playing, recruitment and administrative sides and needs putting to bed asap in the hope that this close season the board and coach will get out there and hammer a few doors down to give us a squad to storm back. Get out to SL clubs and pick up players who are really knocking hard on the door yet not quite there yet, or even a few old heads getting shunted sideways, but who fancy picking up another medal before they opt for pipe and slippers. Get in touch with Glen Tomlinson, get his views on an Aussie or two, anything to attract a bit of flair and style, that's been almost non-existent without Black and sometimes missing with him, and I'm pretty sure we've seen the last of him in a Dogs shirt. How long is Leek away from fit, he looked able until his injury, he must be able to start next season. Recruitment now has to take centre stage and be better thought out than this years', forget Giants and there non-existent DR help. Look how many we've had from them this season only to see them get called back and moved on somewhere else. We need our own men, men proud to be in our team.
Campbell should be back (assuming he stays and repays the club's stance) so he can fill in more than capably at no1. Scott, Gledhill, Chandler, Leatherbarrow are on my list, hope Leek gets fit as he was looking promising when he came, as I'm sure we've seen the last of Ben Black. Rowe too should stay as he's a full hearted type, Rettie's already signed, Nicholson and Blake haven't been wastes. What has been a waste is loaning out 2 players when we've been bringing loans in. Leary always looked confident to me, in his first season JK said he was one for the future, yet got game time in most of the important games last year, only to find that his future still didn't arrive this year despite again playing in the 'big' games. Brennan has been a disappointment I agree, but again he's only 20, needed to be subbing and getting on to learn from Davies and Applegarth. Now, there's a couple of names! Will Davies stay and go down a league? Will Applegarth ever see out a season? I know it's been club policy in the past to be guarded and gentlemanly in transfer dealings, but now is the time to bare the Bulldogs teeth and get stuck in to the market. Assuming that we are joined by Barrow, Swinton, Rochdale and NW Crusaders, rest assured that they won't sit back and stick with what they've got, so we have to compete with them in order to get back. it's not just a case of sending down any old team to Coventry and Hemel etc and expecting them to roll over and respect our past. We need to be doing the rounds of Super League clubs, looking for either promising young players who can't quite force their way in, or pick up a couple of old heads who are just on the verge of being squeezed out, but who fancy they just might pick up another medal or two before hitting the rocking chair. Knock on Koiukash's door, we've sent him enough players, ask him for one, Saints as well. Just don't go with another small, paper thin squad and expect the DR system (if it's kept) to work better for us, we had to my count 8 different players from Giants at some stage of the season, none of whom put in any lengthy stint and half of whom were taken back and sent somewhere else. If we don't re-appear in this division then I can see us eventually joining the likes of Bramley, Huyton, Blackpool etc, teams who just get let go by the RFL. The board must take action now. I wouldn't for a moment question their commitment, if they hadn't been committed, we wouldn't have had the good run we've enjoyed over the last 5 seasons, but something revolutionary has to rear its' head..or else.
ELPwhatever; remember games last 80 minutes, it's no good saying 'we were 32-14 up' and then... that Fev 'let' Batley back is their fault, but Batley, back to a bit of form, played for the whole 80, and if they're keen enough to do that, give them credit. Think back how many teams last year were beaten at the death by us due to playing the whole 80. And, on the original topic about refs, there isn't a good one amongst them, not one who will make a decision for himself without passing it on to the video ref for him to get it wrong, forward passes are par for the course, knock-ons given when the ball clearly goes backwards or the guy who drops it is facing his own posts, reluctance to show red cards, taking the easy way out by going on report, which, if a guilty decision comes out, benefits the next opponents instead of the team against whom the player is playing when he commits the offence etc etc etc. What passes between the assessors, the RFL and their officials? It appears that they are either blind when watching, or think that the ref's performance is acceptable and are unwilling/unable to take any sort of corrective action.
I think that JK has, maybe not directly but in a number of thinly veiled comments, already suggested that his recruitment was ill-judged, but he as always has to work within a budget and if better players than those we lost were not available within that budget, what can he do? As I mentioned before, he has pulled in players from all levels over his 2 years with us and has had great success. This time, maybe one or two aren't hitting potential but most were mourned by the fans of clubs they left, so where does that leave us? I certainly wouldn't advocate that KN and board go out on a limb and put the club in hock, nor is sacking the coach a clever move, for at least 2 reasons: firstly I believe that JK really admires the club as a whole and secondly is there anyone else who could come in and motivate these players any more? Much is being made of Kear's TV work, but I believe he is fully committed to Batley before all else and his outside commitment doesn't affect his ability to coach. I don't know how this is going to pan out, and whether Ben Black's long awaited and clouded return will make the difference, but as they say 'patience is a virtue (and it's also an operetta by Gilbert & Sullivan!!). Let's just hope that we can keep above the dreaded drop-line this time and hope for better recruitmwnt next time.
Halifax should just remember which of the teams was playing at LSV in the Grand Final, after winning AWAY at both Leigh and Featherstone, therefore why shouldn't we go to The Shay and win? It's OK thinking back to last seasons' games against the 4 teams who finished above us, but that was what it was- last season! This season started badly and the usual 'Batley aren't good enough' song started up, but now which team isn't quite good enough, despite believing their own hype?
Probably the whole of RL is looking to Batley at the moment to see what is done. If the players are kept on, then it says that Batley condone the breaking of the law. To me it's a simple, obvious act. Also, after Sunday, it shows what many of us have already said-the backs are sadly lacking, and now are 2 down in number as well. And yes, people have paid to sponsor these players, so replacements should be sourced.