GARETH WALKER, the Championship correspondent of League Express pays tribute to the achievements of Hull Kingston Rovers in 2017
IF a blueprint on how to approach relegation was to be written, Hull KR’s approach to the 2017 campaign would be a perfect template.
Much has been said and written about the “disaster” of relegation during the summer era, although for this writer there has been little evidence to back that up, with several clubs returning to the top flight as stronger entities.
And Rovers’ attitude ever since they lost the 2016 Million Pound Game in the most dramatic circumstances imaginable has been exemplarily in bearing that out.
So much so that captain Shaun Lunt believes they are actually better placed now as an organisation for the experience of dropping down a division.
“One hundred percent we are,” Lunt said in the immediate aftermath of the decisive 12-6 win over Widnes.
“Even if we didn’t win today and we didn’t go up we’re still better club-wise.
“Our foundations and our structures are a lot more solid compared to then.”
Key to the club’s success was Rovers’ ability to sell a vision both to supporters and sponsors straight after that heartbreaking Salford defeat.
Local companies got back on board, fans bought membership packages in their thousands and the Robins’ average attendances have actually been up this year.
The club’s relationship with its fans can be best illustrated by a social media post from directors Neil Hudgell and Rob Crossland after promotion was secured.
Hudgell posted: “We’re back! And there are four reasons why.
“1) The Players. A closer group we haven’t had since 2006.
“2) Tim and all the football staff, who have planned the last 12 months superb, signing well during the season and having our first 13 on the field when it mattered. Giving youth a chance and bringing pride back to the shirt.
“3) The staff. At the coal face when the harsh reality of relegation bit hard. Strong work ethic all year delivering an upbeat vibe in the club.
“4) The fans, and your unwavering faith. There would be no Super League in 2018 without the collective effort of all, of that there is no question.
“Not only did you stick with us, you upped your support.
“Shake the hand of the person next to you, give them a hug, because you are the reason we are in Super League in 2018.”
The Championship will miss Hull KR in 2018 – but Super League will doubtless benefit from their return.