It seems an unusual set of ingredients when you consider there is rugby league history to be made this weekend.
North Wales Crusaders are hardly the highest profile side on these shores. Blackpool is hardly a backdrop steeped in the sport’s history. But on Saturday, Mike Grady’s side head to the seaside looking to win the League 1 Cup for the second time in its three-year history. That, even by its short standards, would be an impressive achievement for a side who have found the going tough in the third-tier this season.
And Grady is in no doubt about where victory against Barrow would rank on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s got to be the best thing in my career,” he tells TotalRL. “I’ve never been to a final at professional level and it’s a big day for us all at Crusaders. Having come from South Wales, where it was tough, I think that hardens you up a bit.
“Everyone is really excited; we’ve had a good win in the run-up to this and the lads knew they were playing for spots in the final The guys who were there two years ago in the final, that experience will help too, I think.”
The Crusaders come up against, apart from Toronto, arguably the strongest side in League 1 in Barrow – but Grady is happy to play the role of underdogs.
“We’re going there to try win the game, don’t worry about that,” he says.
“We’ll have a good look at them during the week but we’re confident we can do well in the face of some adversity. Everyone has written us off and in that way, our team talk is done: I don’t need to say anything.
“Nobody expects us to win: but they probably didn’t expect us to win earlier in the competition either.”
Grady rightly points to North Wales’ run to Blackpool. Three ties, three away games, and three victories: at York, Newcastle and Gloucestershire All Golds. “It’s been tough,” he admits. “If you look at those games before you play them you’d take winning one or two of them – to get three has been superb and we’re here on merit. We deserve to be playing in this game.
“Winning a trophy could be a huge springboard for our season. To be the first club to do it twice would be great.”