Matty Ashurst reflects on bizarre Wakefield Trinity testimonial after floodlight failure

MATTY ASHURST certainly won’t forget his testimonial – if not all for the right reasons!

Wakefield’s pre-season game against Wigan on Friday night, which served as Ashurst’s testimonial match ahead of his tenth season at the club, was abandoned after 60 minutes due to persistent floodlight failure.

It was Trinity’s first game at Belle Vue, now named the DIY Kitchens Stadium with the branding of new club owner Matt Ellis’ company, since the completion of redevelopment work including a new main stand.

New floodlights have also been installed but failed first on the stroke of half-time, then multiple times during the break and in the second half.

Referee Chris Kendall made the decision to abandon the game, with Championship favourites Wakefield leading Super League champions Wigan 22-12 at the time.

Backrower Ashurst joked that the incident summed up his time at Trinity but would not let that detract from the occasion.

“It certainly wasn’t how I planned it! But it was a really proud moment for me and my family,” he said.

“I’m just honoured to get a testimonial at Wakefield. It’s a shame about the ending, but I’m really grateful for all the support they’ve shown me over all my years here.

“It was a bit strange when the lights kept going out, it’s a bit frustrating I suppose. Aside from that, I think we put in a good performance.”

Wigan assistant coach Sean O’Loughlin supported the decision to end the game early: “I think the referee was doing everything he could not to do it. 

“Every time the lights did go off, it was at a decent stop in the game. The last one, where it was on a kick-off carry, blokes running full tilt and the lights going, it’s getting dangerous then isn’t it? It was definitely the right call.”

Wakefield released a statement after the game, apologising to supporters and Ashurst and explaining the issue.

“Prior to the game we identified an electrical issue with the new substation which was installed by contractors,” they said.

“This resulted in the big screen, Brookey’s Bar and Street Kitchen being closed down and switched off in order to try and manage the problem.

“Throughout extensive testing in weeks leading up to the game, the club have had multiple successful floodlight tests and have encountered no similar issues.

“As the game went on, we realised the issue had not been solved and we continued to attempt to isolate the problem alongside our duty electrician within the ground.

“Unfortunately we were unable to solve the problem, which led to referee Chris Kendall abandoning the game due to a player safety issue.

“The club will now be doing everything in their power to swiftly resolve the issue and guarantee that this issue will never happen again. Plans are already in motion to hire a new electrical team to source a back-up generator.”