Barrow Raiders ace Ballard to leave club after Grand Final
Last updated at 16:52, Thursday, 20 September 2012
ANDY Ballard will not be with Barrow Raiders next season – but he plans to go out with a bang in the Championship One Grand Final.
The 26-year-old full-back has revealed next Sunday’s big match at Warrington will be his 85th and last in a Barrow shirt.
After three-and-a-half successful years at Craven Park – during which time he has scored 62 tries – Ballard is moving to a club closer to his Wigan home.
But he wants to end it in style by replicating the victory in the Championship Grand Final against Halifax in 2009.
“I won’t be staying at Barrow next year and there is another team I will be signing for,” said Ballard.
“The travelling is getting me down a little bit – I have been doing it for four years now, so it is good to sign for a local club and have a bit more of a life really. I’ve two young daughters and I can spend a bit more time with my family now, instead of travelling up there.
“I want to finish my Barrow career on a high, knowing that I have won two Grand Finals there.
“That would be it then – I could even retire! I don’t need to do anything else.”
Ballard has missed only three games all season for Barrow, helping them become the first team to gain promotion to the second tier for next year.
He admits the side took their foot off the gas slightly when promotion was in the bag, feeling the title was theirs before some late-season defeats cost them the crown.
They bounced back with Sunday’s win at Doncaster and Ballard feels everything is now geared up for a big showing on Grand Finals day.
“Holty (coach Darren Holt) has done well recruiting this year and hopefully this year we can win something and not end up as the best team in the league all year and not win anything,” Ballard said.
“We’ve just lost a couple of rubbish games this year at the end, at Rochdale and at Workington, where we could have won the league.
“All we need to do now is win the Grand Final this year and we have won something – all that hard work won’t have been for nothing.
“I think we all thought we had won the league, so we took our foot off the gas a bit and it went downhill from there.
“But we put our foot back on the gas again at Doncaster and we beat them, when they have not been beaten at home all year.”
He added: “Hopefully there will be a big following for us – Barrow will take a lot down there.
“There should be a fair few hundred from Barrow and it should be a good atmosphere.
“I think we’ve got the best following in Championship One and the Championship, so hopefully there will be a lot of people there watching us and cheering us on for a win.”
Ballard joined Barrow from Oldham midway through the 2009 Championship season, along with fellow Roughyeds James Coyle, Dave Allen and Danny Halliwell.
Playing on the wing, he became a regular in the side and helped them to their triumph over Fax at the Halliwell-Jones at the end of that season.
The former Salford player maintained his place out wide for the next two campaigns and stuck with the club – the only out-of-town player to do so – after they were relegated last year due to financial irregularities off the field.
New coach Holt moved him to full-back and he has kept the number one jersey throughout the current campaign, scoring 14 tries in 23 appearances.
Ballard does not regret his decision to drop down a level this season and stay with Barrow and he added: “Last year, I was told it’s a new coach, new players and it was going to be a good craic, so I thought why not? We just went for it and we have done well.
“I’ve had a lot of ups at Barrow, the only downer was when we got relegated last year, but we have shot back up again.
“Getting relegated was out of our hands, we were relegated for somebody else’s mistakes.”
Ballard’s exact destination for the 2013 season has yet to be revealed, but he will be in the Championship and both Leigh Centurions and Swinton Lions are based close to his home.
A move to either club would mean at least one trip to Craven Park next season and he said: “I’ll be in the Championship next year, so I will be back at Barrow. If I score a hat-trick, I’ll try not to celebrate!”
First published at 16:33, Thursday, 20 September 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
is this game on TV or sky at all?
I did not say all out of town players but we do need some to compete as this level.As for the gates they will drop if we keep getting beat just look at the football gates. People dont like to watch there side get beat every week. Again good luck Barrow
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