GARETH WALKER, the Championship correspondent of League Express, pays tribute to Swinton coach John Duffy for his role with the Lions over the last 18 months.
THE future of Swinton Lions may as yet be uncertain, following their recent financial difficulties. But whatever lies ahead, the recent role of coach John Duffy should not go unnoticed.
The Lions’ issues have now come fully to light, and basically involve the need to raise £100,000 – half of it by the end of the month – to get through the season.
According to Duffy, there have been problems of some sort over the last 18 months, most of which the club has managed to keep a lid on.
But during that time the former scrum half kept Swinton in the Championship in 2016 following their promotion the previous year, and as things stand at present they are on course to repeat that achievement again.
Duffy’s task may or may not become more difficult before the July 21 signing deadline, but one thing from the thrilling 33-28 derby loss at Rochdale is clear – his team remains united and committed under him.
That is no mean feat when payments have not been being made at times – a quick scan at social media surrounding the club finds several players posting the problems they have had.
But Duffy has managed to somehow keep a steady ship, and his team have continued to play an attacking style that regularly earns praise from opposition coaches.
The coach’s role has not gone unnoticed by Lions director Steve Wild.
“One thing I would also like to say is how brilliant John Duffy has been throughout all of this,” Wild told Monday’s League Express.
“He has been so professional throughout and has managed to keep the players on board.”
Duffy himself admitted that it hasn’t been an easy period.
He said: “To be fair I don’t know how we’ve kept it together this long.
“It’s been tough, and at the end of the day people have not been getting their money.
“But no matter what’s happened and what has been said, the players have always gone out onto the pitch, and they’ve been playing well too.
“They certainly haven’t given up and hopefully this can galvanise us.
“This is the second season I’ve been dealing with this stuff going on and it has been tough – it’s been tough at home.
“It’s not just the players but their families that I’ve had to speak to at time.
“We’ve tried to ensure that things didn’t come out on social media but it all came to a head last week.”
Sometimes matters like this can go unnoticed publicly – Duffy has been cracking on for 18 months without any fanfare.
But while Championship Rugby League is a form of weekend entertainment for all of us, there are livelihoods and family matters at stake for those involved, and that shouldn’t be underestimated.