Here are my New Year wishes.
1 No off-field drama at Bradford
There are still plenty of unanswered questions that many, although seemingly not enough, people would like addressed over what has happened at the Bulls in recent years.
But this is a hopes-for-the-future piece, not one looking back, and the vast majority of Rugby League supporters would like to see Bradford on a more stable footing for the long-term.
There will be plenty of scrutiny on how the club operates, given those previous events, but a solid season off the field and the prospect of an imminent return to the city would ease some fears.
And on the pitch, you already get the impression that John Kear (pictured) is going to relish the situation.
2 London Broncos regroup in the Championship
The Broncos earned plenty of admirers for their brave if ultimately unsuccessful 2019 campaign in Super League, and then sympathy when that team was picked apart by other clubs.
But there will be little sympathy around back in the Championship, where ambitious rivals will be keen to fell the relegated club.
London continues to produce professional Rugby League players at an impressive rate, and we should see a few more emerge in 2020 as the Broncos look to bounce back quickly.
3 York continue building at new stadium
There’s already plenty to admire about the Knights as a club even without the city’s shiny new facility.
But their move to the York Community Stadium will provide opportunities to further develop off the field.
On it, a handful of impressive signings should ensure they don’t suffer any “second season syndrome” in the second tier. And if they continue to progress they are a potential Super League club in coming years.
4 Eagles to fly at rebuilt home
Few clubs have experienced the home ground difficulties that Sheffield have had in recent seasons.
Now back in the city, in 2020 they should finally be playing in a facility fit both for the Championship and their own ambitions at the redeveloped Olympic Legacy Park.
It’s no more than the club’s hard-working and persistent off-field staff deserve.
5 The 1895 Cup gets a second wind
Allowing clubs to drop out seemingly at will and not addressing concerns from this year hardly bode well for the competition next season.
But the idea, which is based around giving clubs outside Super League an opportunity to dream, remains a good one if executed properly.
It would be good to see more clubs take it seriously and the final become a permanent fixture in the sport’s calendar.
6 The Championship finds another Matty Ashton
This time last year not many people in the professional game knew who Matty Ashton was. But fast forward 12 months and he’s secured a two-year contract at one of the country’s biggest clubs.
Ashton’s rise from the amateur ranks to a spell in Australia, becoming top try scorer in his debut Championship campaign and signing for Warrington, was little short of meteoric.
It should serve as inspiration to any young player not in a Super League system that anything is possible.
7 Cumbrian clubs enjoy a resurgence
It’s been a while now since a Cumbrian club was competing at the top end of the semi-professional game, after both Barrow and Whitehaven made Grand Finals at this level over a decade ago.
And it won’t be easy for of the three clubs in 2020, with Haven facing a big challenge to stay up and Barrow and Workington jostling for promotion in a competitive League One.
But the sport as a whole benefits from strong Cumbrian clubs and all have cause to be optimistic about 2020.
8 West Wales Raiders win again
It’s of little benefit to anybody to have one club as whipping boys in an 11-team competition, so the Raiders’ improved 2019 and, crucially, their drought-ending win over Coventry were major bonuses.
They now have a new coach in situ in Aaron Wood, and although there will doubtless be tough times again, hopefully the Welsh club can increase their wins tally in 2020.
9 Rochdale rebuild under Andy Mazey
A personal hope after a year to forget on every front at the club, but another that can benefit the whole sport if the growing potential in Rochdale is realised.
Andy Mazey and his former Swinton Lions board members have made an impressive, and crucially realistic, start to life in charge of the newly-relegated club.
And while grand achievements on the field are unlikely in 2020, a solid campaign on and off the field can set the club up for years to come.
© League Express Mon 30th Dec 2019