Martyn Sadler, the editor of League Express, has written the foreword to ‘Cas Tigers: the Breakthrough Year’, which has been newly published by League Publications Limited. With the book now in the shops, here is what he has to say about the new book.
Castleford Tigers created history in 2017, finishing at the top of the league for the first time in the club’s 91-year history, winning the League Leaders’ Shield and finishing ten points ahead of Leeds Rhinos, their nearest challengers, at the end of the Super 8s.
But it wasn’t just history the Tigers created in 2017.
It was jet-heeled excitement and an astonishing feelgood factor that swept everybody in Rugby League along with it.
For example, in only their second game of the season they travelled to the Halliwell Jones Stadium to play Warrington Wolves, who had beaten Brisbane Broncos the previous weekend in one of the most impressive wins we have seen by a Super League club against NRL opposition. The Wolves were being talked up as potential Super League Champions.
And yet in a spell of sustained brilliance the Tigers blitzed them with a four-try burst in the first half that was just unstoppable, causing me to wax lyrical about the Tigers in that week’s edition of League Express, while making quite an extravagant comparison.
“On Friday night Castleford Tigers served us up nine minutes of almost perfect Rugby League, during which time they scored four scintillating tries,” I wrote. “It was almost certainly the most astonishing nine minutes of action that I can recall watching. “It actually took me back to the brilliance of the 1982 Australian tourists, who were also capable of unleashing a barrage of tries against unsuspecting opponents in a very short space of time.
“It was a privilege to see it, and there’s no doubt in my mind that if the Tigers could sustain rugby like that for long periods throughout a game, then they would be almost unbeatable.”
The funny thing was that Castleford’s performance was not originally scheduled to be captured by the TV cameras, which should have been at Wigan for their game against Widnes. But Wigan postponed that game because of bad weather affecting the pitch at the DW Stadium and the Sky cameras had to head to Warrington at short notice.
Thank goodness they did, as I also wrote in that League Express column. “After the Wigan postponement debacle last week I joked on Twitter that anyone looking for a conspiracy theory about why Wigan had called off their game should look to Sky Sports, who had been due to broadcast the clash between Wigan and Widnes, but must have been looking enviously earlier in the week at the clash between Warrington and Castleford, which always looked like the obvious game to broadcast,” I said.
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of Wigan postponing their game, and then rearranging it, the truth is that Sky viewers were all fortunate that Sky switched to the Halliwell Jones Stadium.”
Sky continued to follow Castleford around the Betfred Super League as the season unfolded, and we saw many memorable games and superb performances, both from the team and from individuals within it.
It was a season that I will also remember and I’m sure that every Castleford supporter will feel the same way.
That’s why we commissioned Callum Walker, himself a Castleford supporter, to write a book that would document what is perhaps the most successful season in the club’s history.
It may have ended in heartbreak at Old Trafford with a Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos, but that shouldn’t be allowed to cloud our view of what was a wonderful Rugby League season, with Castleford giving us truly a season to remember.
I hope you all enjoy re-living the 2017 season as much as I have.
If you would like to buy the book direct from League Publications you can do so here: //shop.totalrl.com/product/castigers/