Gareth Walker pays tribute to a great performance by Workington Town last Sunday.
Few teams can this year have come through the amount of adversity that Workington Town had to contend with last weekend.
Phil Veivers’ side have been close to recording a host of wins this season – they current have nine bonus points from 11 defeats – only to fall short.
On Sunday they shocked high-flying Featherstone 20-18 at Derwent Park.
But the final scoreline only tells half the story.
Town played with just 16 men, with injured Australian Kayle Connor an unused substitute to make up the numbers.
On top of that, Veivers had to register two amateur players on the Thursday night before the game just to get a side on the field – including the club’s conditioner. Matthew Johnson played on the right wing to help out the team he normally trains, while Keiron McAvoy started a second spell at the club by playing off the bench.
His brother Liam was one of a host of players unavailable after he unsuccessfully tried to overturn a ban in midweek.
Veivers also had to contend with several other withdrawals, and could call on just one player from partner club Wigan – fullback Lewis Tierney – due to the Warriors’ own heavy schedule.
Brett Phillips was one of a host of stand-out performers in the pack, playing the full 80 minutes in hot conditions due to the limited number of substitutes.
Kris Cowards and James Duerden also put in big performances for Veivers’ side, who needed the win to stay in touch with the top nine.
“We had a fair bit of adversity during the week and we had to register a couple of guys on Thursday night to make up the team,” Veivers explained.
“I’m over the moon and proud of what they achieved against an all stars team like Featherstone.
“It’s been well documented the number of quality players they have brought to their outfit, but my players stuck to a very simple gameplan and took the momentum away from them.”
Town’s achievement isn’t unique, of course. Squads and coaches at this level often have to go through a host of trials and tribulations during the week ahead of matches.
But what Town’s win over Featherstone does serve to do is highlight the commitment that part-time players and coaches display to provide entertainment for supporters every Sunday afternoon.
It’s impossible to know the full story behind every part-time player’s journey to a 3pm kick-off, but they go above and beyond and don’t get the recognition they and the Kingstone Press Championship deserves.
With closer links to the top-flight next season and a return to the Sky Sports screens, hopefully that will improve.
Gareth Walker, the editor of Rugby League World magazine, writes his weekly ‘Championship Focus‘ column in Rugby League Express, out on Monday and digitally from Sunday night at 11.00pm.