Few players have an affiliation with Magic Weekend like Gareth Ellis.
Why? Well, if it wasn’t the inaugural edition in 2007 when Ellis was part of the Leeds team who controversially beat Bradford, then it was his presence on the field at the Etihad Stadium a few years later.
Ellis was playing for Hull FC when they snatched the most dramatic of victories via a Chris Green try – another moment that, on reflection on the replays, was as controversial as they come.
There have been losses too, but given Ellis’ track record, it’s little wonder he holds the event in such high regard.
“I’ve got fond memories of the Magic Weekend throughout my career,” he told TotalRL.
“It’s been a great place for me to come and it’s a great weekend for rugby league. It’s a fantastic spectacle and to get a full round of games inside one stadium is tremendous. I think it’s a great concept and a great idea.
“I think it’s so uniquely different it is special for the sport. It’s a great opportunity for people who’ve never experienced a rugby league game before to get inside a stadium like this.
“I’ve been involved in some controversial ones! There was the first one when Jordan Tansey scored that late try against Bradford, then there was one for Hull when Chris Green scored against Hull KR! It’s been a good event for me to come to in terms of getting the wins, but it’s just generally brilliant.”
A Hull derby such as the one this weekend which will close the 10th edition of Magic Weekend generally tends to draw cliche aplenty from Rugby League players leading up to it.
But Ellis is a different breed of player, especially with a recording device in front of him. He insists that their dramatic win on Good Friday a few weeks ago was more than any old victory – it was one that potentially saved their season, with Hull going on a phenomenal run of form since that win at the home of their arch rivals.
“It is such a massive moment in our season, the last derby,” he says. “It shows the fine margins of success; if we lose that game I’m not sure we go on the run we’ve been on. Having lost to Widnes the week before and then just nicking that win, it set us off on the right track.
“Regardless of how either team is going in the league, both sides get up for it because it means so much to them. They don’t care what happens as long as they beat the team from the other side of the river, and this is a big one as always.
“It’s really important for us to kick on in the second half of the season; we’ve given ourselves a great opportunity and it’d be disastrous to see it slip away now. We’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position.”
And with Magic Weekend still considered a ‘bonus’ fixture in the calendar, and the debate about player welfare and the amount of games we play coming into discussion again, there is talk about whether this event should step aside.
Ellis, however, does not want any of that for a minute.
“You’ve only got to look at the numbers who turn up to see it’s a hit.
“Whether we play too many games or not is up for debate, but I don’t think taking this fixture away is the answer, if indeed we are playing too many games. It’s something to look forward to for the fans – but also the players. The opportunity to play in a stadium like this, what’s not to like?”