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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Holt predicts tough season for Barrow Raiders - includes full 2013 fixture list

RAIDERS boss Darren Holt joked he is not looking forward to any of Barrow’s games next season after an ultra-tough Championship fixture list was unveiled.

The Barrow coach led his side to promotion from Championship One this year, but knows it will be a whole lot tougher when the new campaign gets under way on Sunday, February 3.

Raiders start at South Leeds Stadium against Hunslet Hawks, before hosting Doncaster in a repeat of September’s 16-13 Championship One Grand Final loss at Craven Park a week later.

While those matches are of a standard as tough as it got last season, they will be normal fare in 2013, in what Holt knows will be a hard season.

“If I look at the fixture list now, there are none I am particularly looking forward too!” Holt laughed.

“But that’s an indication of the league we are in. It really is a very tough league below Super League – there are a lot of good players and a lot of very good teams.

“Last year’s Championship showed, with Sheffield going through and winning the Grand Final, that there are a lot of strong teams and any team on their day can beat any other team.”

He added: “The Hunslet game will give us a very good indication very early on as to where we are, looking at where they finished last year in that league.

“It will show us where we are and what we have to do going forward into next season.

“Going away to any team in that league and getting an away win will be an achievement in itself next season.

“But we could have had a lost worse first fixtures and Hunslet will be saying the same thing. It will just give a good bearing early doors of exactly where we are at.

“For Doncaster, both teams will have made a lot of recruitment, there will be a lot changes and there will be two teams who have come up through promotion.

“Realistically, we have got to look to be very strong and very hard to beat at home.

“Those first two games really will give us an indication of the task ahead and where we are at.”

The toughness of the fixture list generally will be exasperated by two matches in particular.

The first is a home match against Batley Bulldogs, which has been brought forward to Thursday, February 21 to be covered on Premier Sports.

The game will show up the well-known problems with the club’s current floodlights and likely cost them thousands of pounds to bring in temporary lighting for the TV company.

A £26,000 bill landed at the club’s door in 2009 for providing lighting for two games and a repeat will make a significant dent in finances as they try to raise £100,000 to fit a new system.

Even Holt expressed shock at the decision – “I’m surprised by that,” he said, before adding “the lighting might be better at Leigh” for their second TV game a month later.

The second problematic game is against York City Knights on Easter Monday, April 1.

Sources confirmed the club asked not to have a match that afternoon, as Barrow AFC are at home to Hyde FC on the same afternoon. That will create problems with stewards and with the club doctor, who serves both teams.

The match comes three days after a Good Friday trip to Keighley, with the Easter double-header returning after a year’s absence.

Holt knows some coaches object to doubling up, but has no problems with it himself.

He said: “I grew up on playing as a young lad and there were always two games on Easter weekend. I looked forward to it.

“Now on the coaching side, you have a different perspective with having two games in such close proximity and having issues with injuries and other things that might be going on at the club.

“But it is the same for every team – if it was just us, then you would be asking questions, but every team is in the same boat.

“I’m non-committal either way, it is what it is. I used to enjoy the two games over the weekend, it’s a tradition and always has been and I don’t think there will be any major issues there at all.”

One fixture which is not traditional will be the trip to Swinton Lions on Thursday, August 22.

Traditionally, there are no matches played on Challenge Cup weekend, but clubs voted to introduce games two days before the Wembley showpiece next year.

Holt took a philosophical view on the move and said: “They’ve had to do it because of the number of teams now in the Championship.

“They had to slot the games in somewhere and they would have to find a week.

“It is what it is, the fixtures have been set and we have got to play the games. As long as we are not playing on cup final weekend – because I think we would have about two players to go out there!”

l The Barrow Raiders annual Christmas quiz night will be held in the Raiders Bar on Saturday (7.30pm start).

There will be a couple of players shirts from the 2012 season up for auction and club directors will be in attendance for a question and answer session.

Have your say

It is what it is Holty

Posted by J Rooney on 27 November 2012 at 07:19

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