Despite last Friday’s defeat Salford left the DW Stadium with their heads held high. In what was arguably one of the matches of the season The Red Devil’s emphasised their credentials to be challenging the power house clubs of rugby league. A huge vocal following roared Ian Watson’s men on in what was an electric atmosphere. Despite the agony of such a close defeat the loyal supporters left bursting with pride on what was an emotional night for a team and club that has come so far over the last eighteen months.
The previous night Castleford Tigers toughed out a gritty victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium to end Warrington’s challenge in the Elimination Playoff.
The Wolves have suffered a miserable end to the season but have the comfort of their Challenge Cup triumph to see them through the close season.
Daryl Powell and his Castleford side have not hit the heights this year of recent seasons but have yet again finished in the playoff places. Powell has proved to be a very wise coach and can certainly get the best out of his talented squad. The Tigers like to play an attacking brand of rugby and over the years in one off knock out competitions have caused Salford quite a bit of pain.
The two sides have met twice so far this season. Castleford won a tight game at Wheldon Road on St Patrick’s day back in March 24-20. A few silly errors cost Salford dearly that day. That’s one day I’ll never forget, on my journey home with my dad back down the M62 we got a phone call off my sister to say she had given birth to a baby girl. Emily is now six months old and has seen Salford win at home against Warrington just a few weeks ago.
The return fixture at the AJ Bell Stadium in June went the way of the Red Devils with a solid 26-16 victory.
Championship play off record against Castleford.
13th May 1939, Salford 8 Castleford 6, championship playoff final.
19th April 1968, Castleford 47 Salford 15, Top 16 playoff.
1st May 1977, Castleford 25 Salford 17, Premiership round one.
They played for both
Throughout the Super League era there have been plenty of players who have played for both clubs and quite a few through the 1970s and 80s.
Here is a selection of them ;
Paul Orr, Bill Kirkbride, Jonny Ward, Barry Kear, Ron Hill, Ian Bragger, Justin Carney, Chris Charles, Jason Critchley, Luke Dorn, Greg Eden, Jake Emmit, Jason Flowers, Matt Gardner, Ashley Gibson, Wayne Godwin, Weller Hauraki, Lee Jewitt, Michael Korkidas, Francis Maloney, Mike Platt, Darren Rogers, Darren Shaw, Mark Sneyd and Gray Viane.
Jason Critchley played for both clubs in the 1990s.
A match to remember 13th May 1939, Maine Road Manchester.
Championship final, Salford 8 Castleford 6.
The final match of the 1938/39 season saw Salford finish with a real flourish at Manchester City’s Maine Road. A huge crowd of 69,504 excited supporters packed on to the terraces to watch the top two sides in the country. Salford had finished top of the table with Castleford two points behind in second place. Both sides had made the final with convincing Semi final victories. Salford had beaten Huddersfield 15-0 while Castleford were too good for Halifax coming out 21-4 victors.
Just seven days earlier Salford had been at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final against Halifax. Lance Todd’s Red Devils were dealt some real bad luck before the match when almost half the team went down with the flu. The Yorkshire men took the Trophy with a 20-3 triumph.
The Red Devils covered themselves in glory though the following week with a really hard fought game against Castleford. Tries from prolific winger Alan Edwards and stand off Tom Kenny were good enough to edge them home.
Edwards finished his Salford career with a sensational try record of 129 tries in 199 appearances. The great Gus Risman finished top scorer in the league that season with 267 points.
Australian cricket legend Don Bradman greets the Salford players at Wembley in 1938.
The 1930s were a golden era for Salford rugby league club. They certainly were a team to be feared, class and quality across the pitch ensured The trophies came thick and fast. Three League Championships, four Lancashire Cups, five Lancashire League titles and a Challenge cup victory at Wembley made Salford the side of the decade.
Salford were the first club to be invited to tour France who saw them as the premier side in the game. Their trip in October and November 1934 was to promote Rugby League in the country. They won all six matches in with some amazing attacking play and were given their unofficial nickname; Les Diables Rouges (The Red Devils) by French journalists. The opening game was in Paris on Sunday 21 October, following an overnight ferry journey, having beaten Wigan 21–12 in the Lancashire Cup final the previous afternoon. Looking back now that is certainly a team to be very proud of.
It’s a do or die game on Thursday night with the losing side bowing out. Salford were outstanding in defeat at Wigan last week with just a few lapses of concentration costing them very dearly. One things for certain though Ian Watson and his players proved it’s been no fluke this season and they fully deserve to be where they are. Pundits and the wider rugby league population are sitting up and taking note of a team that has played some fantastic rugby this year. An enterprising, attacking brand of play has captured the imagination of not only the Salford supporters but the press, opposition fans and television audiences. The club seems to have gained many friends in 2019 and a respect that is duly deserved.
As we saw last Thursday and Friday playoff rugby league is tough and brutal at times. Castleford have some very talented players in their squad. Young half back Jake Truman has come of age this year. The Tigers have their very own Man Of Steel contender in Liam Watts who plays a key role in a very aggressive pack. Hooker Paul McShane on his day is one of the best in the league. James Clare and Greg Minikin provide plenty of pace on the edges to.
Castleford pack star, Liam Watts.
As mentioned earlier Castleford have been quite a bogey team for Salford certainly over the last 50 years or so. That should go out of the window this Thursday though. With Jackson Hastings injecting an attitude and belief into a team with a tremendous spirit and togetherness. Salford are the home side and won’t want their successful season to come to an end just yet.
A fascinating night awaits and the team that gets the victory will be just 80 minutes away from a The Grand Final. For Salford supporters that was a poetic dream when the season kicked off on a bitterly cold night at Huddersfield in February. Their was a spark that night though and that spark soon turned it to a glowing flame that has burned bright in the hearts of everyone involved in Salford Red Devils in what is turning into a special season.
The action gets under way at 7:45pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match everyone.