Steel City Survivors Deserve Respect

Upfront: The League Express opinion – Mon 3rd May 2021

With United relegated from the Premier League and Wednesday in danger of dropping from the Championship, these are tough times for Sheffield’s football teams and fans.

So League Express would like to tip the hat to the steel city’s survival specialists Sheffield Eagles and the driving force that is Mark Aston.

Whatever obstacles appear, and there have been plenty, Aston and the Eagles always seem to clear them and keep going.

Shortly before this season began, for example, the club’s Olympic Legacy Park was deemed unsuitable for use.

The Eagles agreed a deal with Club Doncaster to use the Keepmoat Stadium, and they aim to make it three Championship games unbeaten there against Batley on Friday.

Aston, of course, played for the original Sheffield Eagles, winning the Lance Todd Trophy as Wigan were memorably beaten in the 1998 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

He co-founded the current club in the wake of the merger with Huddersfield Giants in 1999, and he has remained a key figure.

It’s a mark of his longevity that on Saturday, his son Cory was on duty for opponents London Broncos in a Keepmoat clash that finished 20-20.

That Sheffield lost to Newcastle after beating both Bradford and York is a sign of the competitiveness of the second tier so far this season.

Credit the 14 clubs for dealing with the many problems posed by the pandemic to provide such an entertaining and interesting return to action.

One hundred and eighty miles to the North, one of Whitehaven’s means of staying alive has been an historic first naming deal for the club’s home.

The Recreation Ground is now the LEL Arena after the agreement of a new partnership with nearby engineering firm Lifttech Engineering Limited.

The club’s finance director Michael Wood pointed out: “This is a further step forward as we look to ensure a strong and prosperous return following the coronavirus crisis.”

This weekend also marks the return of League 1 after a 14-month absence.

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