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Monday, 01 September 2014

THE RAIDING PARTY: Come together for Super League Grand Final

LAST weekend saw my annual pilgrimage to Manchester to watch the Super League Grand Final and see how the other half live.

While I personally struggle to get to grips with the concept that a team which finished the league campaign in fifth place can be crowned champions, there is little doubt that the occasion is massive.

Less than a week earlier, of course, I was at Warrington to watch the three Grand Finals for the tiers below Super League, and there is a good chance that many others who were at Warrington were also in Manchester a week later.

Two trips away in less than a week is an expensive business and, in these times of economic pressure, it is a big ask to expect people to attend both showpiece events.

There must be many supporters of our great game who are forced into choosing one or the other event as the recipient of their hard-earned cash.

Would it not be better to play all the Grand Finals on the same weekend and make the October trip to Manchester one that brings the whole sport of rugby league together as one big family?

Surely, a rugby league gala of this type would do much to bring the sport at all levels closer together, especially at a time when many rugby league supporters outside of Super League feel alienated by the injustices of the current franchising system.

It cannot be beyond the wit of man to play the Super League, Championship, Championship One and Conference Challenge Cup finals on the same weekend in the same city.

The Magic Weekend event stages seven matches over two days with, it would seem, few problems. So, why not try a similar logic with the various end-of-season showpiece finals?

The big match would of course remain at Old Trafford and the other three could be played (not a million miles away) at Salford’s new ground at Worsley! It has got to be worth some consideration, I think.

Anyway, on to far more important matters; this coming Friday sees Barrow Raiders’ annual presentation evening at the Nines in the town centre. All the indications are that a sell-out is on the cards and at just £5 for a ticket, it is hardly surprising really.

There are some tickets still available from the Rugby Shop, Scott Street, and these can be bought until Friday afternoon, when the shop closes for the weekend.

While you are in there, why not ask for details about the early bird season tickets for the 2013 season? These are priced at £135 for adults and £90 for concessions. For that, you gain entry to all 13 Championship home league fixtures.

The early bird offer only has another four weeks or so to run so, if you want to save some of you hard-earned cash, now is the time to secureyour ticket for what promises to be a very entertaining campaign, with the Raiders pitting their wits against the very best Featherstone, Halifax, Sheffield, Leigh et al can offer.

The efforts to assemble the playing squad for next season have gathered pace in the last few weeks and Darren and Phil seem to be putting a good group together, helped in no small way by directors of rugby Andy Gaffney and Geoff Worrall. Most of the local lads have now re-signed and these have been augmented by a number of out-of-town lads, many with Super League experience. It all seems to augur well for Barrow in 2013.

By the time you read this a couple more signings should have been announced this week and I for one can’t wait for the build up to start with friendly matches in December and January. I have no details of the pre-season matches as yet but these will be released as soon as opponents and dates are known.

And remember, the future is bright; the future is blue and white.

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