THERE will be a new name on the Xamax BARLA National Cup after the 2016 final, which will take place on Saturday (28 May) has been completed.
This season’s contestants, Myton Warriors and Thornhill Trojans, are each making a first appearance in amateur Rugby League’s major occasion, although both will bring a wealth of experience to the event.
The Trojans, who are rising through the ranks after returning to the Kingstone Press Cider National Conference League a couple of years ago, are pushing for promotion from Division Two and have appeared in two of the last five BARLA Yorkshire Cup Finals.
Both of those games – against Hunslet Old Boys in 2011-12 and 2013-14 – finished in defeat, a state of affairs which is only likely to further galvanise the Dewsbury outfit, who were also White Rose runners-up, to Skirlaugh, in 1995-96, and who lost to Oulton in the 2005-06 National Conference Grand Final.
Myton, meanwhile, have no Yorkshire Cup Final experience but have been among the leading lights in the NCL for a decade or more and are currently among the front-runners in Division One. And their Head Coach, Tony Spence, has plenty of National Cup Final know-how.
Spence was part of the set-up when Skirlaugh accounted for Wath Brow Hornets at the Copeland Stadium, Whitehaven in the 1998-99 decider. And twelve months later he was assistant to Ideal Isberg coach Terry Smirk in the classic – against Skirlaugh – at the Boulevard.
He was also at the helm when Myton reached the NCL Grand Final in 2012, missing out to Wath Brow Hornets. And he is rightly proud to have more than held things together since that game.
“We lost 13 internationals at various age levels, in both the BARLA and Community Lions camps, in 2013,” said. “But we’ve rebuilt the side and progressed steadily.
“We’re aiming to gain promotion back to the top flight and if we get the bit of luck everyone needs, primarily by steering clear of injuries, we’ll be able to achieve that.
“The National Cup, though, is the immediate target. This is the most important knockout competition in amateur Rugby League and, as a strong BARLA man delighted to have been given the accolade of Coach of the Year a few seasons ago, it means a lot to me.”
So does Myton. “I’ve fallen in love with this club,” he admitted. “We’re determined to lift that trophy next week, but talk is cheap, it’s all about what happens in the 80 minutes. We’ve a big side, though, and some proven match-winners. Hopefully it will go our way.”
Trojans Head Coach James Ratcliffe has pinpointed a factor that he feels didn’t help Thornhill’s cause in previous finals.
“We perhaps focussed too much on the games as special occasions,” he said. “The reality is that there’s a match to play, but when you get caught up in the event that can get forgotten. That may be a reason why we didn’t ever really get going in the defeat by Hunslet Old Boys two years ago, when we simply didn’t show up.
“Our 20-16 defeat against the Old Boys a couple of seasons before that was a different matter; if that game had gone on for another few minutes I’ve no doubt we would have won.
“This time, we’ll be adopting the right approach before the game has even started. We’ll be meeting at noon, as we do for any game, and treating the final just like any other fixture.”
Thornhill are firmly in the frame for elevation from the NCL’s Second Division, despite not quite having hit the straps this time. Ratcliffe said: “We’re in the final, and in the leading group in the league, largely through our solid defence, which has stood us in good stead.
“We’ve been without Joel Gibson, who injured his knee in pre-season training and is due to have an operation in June, throughout the campaign. Joel can be relied on to get you 30 tries and more in a season so he’s obviously been a big loss, and we’ve also been without the likes of Luke Haigh.
“We’ve had to grind wins out, including in the games at Egremont – when my wife and I switched a planned holiday from the south coast to Cumbria – and East Hull, but I’m delighted with the attitude of our players.”
ROUTES TO THE FINAL
Round one: Eastern Rhinos (h) 56-0
Round two: Oldham St Anne’s (a) 36-4
Quarter-final: Thatto Heath (a) 25-24 (aet)
Semi-final: Fryston Warriors (a) 32-30 (aet)
Round one: Morley Borough (h) 36-12
Round two: West Bowling (h) 22-12
Quarter-final: Egremont Rangers (a) 28-26
Semi-final: East Hull (a) 30-26
THE 2016 Xamax BARLA National Cup Final will be staged at the Big Fellas Stadium, Post Office Road, Featherstone Rovers on Saturday 28 May, with a 2.00pm kick-off.
Admission is £5 (£3 concessions)
ROLL OF HONOUR
1973-74 Leigh Miners Welfare 12 Latchford Albion 7
1974-75 Pilkington Recs 22 Mayfield 4
1975-76 Ace Amateurs 20 Ovenden 12
1976-77 Cawoods 10 NDLB 3
1977-78 Milford 22 Leigh Miners Welfare 13
1978-79 Pilkington Recs 9 West Hull 3
1979-80 Pilkington Recs 16 Dewsbury Celtic 5
1980-81 Beecroft & Wightman 11 Lock Lane 2
1981-82 Pilkington Recs 19 Milford 2
1982-83 Leigh Miners Welfare 12 Lock Lane 8
1983-84 Dudley Hill 24 Mysons 16
1984-85 Jubilee 26 West Hull 10
1985-86 Mysons 17 Millom 8
1986-87 Thatto Heath 15 Heworth 8
1987-88 St Patrick’s 28 Elland 8
1988-89 Crosfields 25 Kells 11
1989-90 Egremont 11 Saddleworth 4
1990-91 Saddleworth 27 Hull Dockers 14
1991-92 Hull Dockers 27 Skirlaugh 8
1992-93 Saddleworth 23 Hensingham 16
1993-94 Saddleworth 33 Thatto Heath 8
1994-95 West Hull 7 Woolston 6
1995-96 Skirlaugh 21 Ellenborough Rangers 16
1996-97 Ellenborough Rangers 28 Dudley Hill 24
1997-98 Redhill 40 Ideal ABI 12
1998-99 Skirlaugh 32 Wath Brow Hornets 2
1999-00 Skirlaugh 36 Ideal Isberg 30
2000-01 Thatto Heath Crusaders 20 Featherstone Lions 12
2001-02 West Hull 36 Ince Rose Bridge 10
2002-03 Oldham St Anne’s 15 West Hull 14
2003-04 Wath Brow Hornets 25 Oldham St Anne’s 16
2004-05 Wath Brow Hornets 16 Skirlaugh 6
2005-06 Skirlaugh 26 Leigh Miners Rangers 13
2006-07 Halton Simms Cross 23 Ince Rose Bridge 8
2007-08 East Hull 32 Wath Brow Hornets 10
2008-09 Siddal 38 Wigan St Cuthbert’s 14
2009-10 Queens 17 Leigh East 7
2010-11 Sharlston Rovers 20 Fryston Warriors 18
2011-12 Queens 33 Sharlston Rovers 10
2012-13 Sharlston Rovers 31 Wibsey Warriors 30
2013-14 Sharlston Rovers 26 Hunslet Old Boys 16
2014-15 Egremont Rangers 34 Sharlston Rovers 16