Salford v St.Helens.
Well it was quite a trip for Salford over to France. The gruelling temperatures and facing a Catalans side that are on fire at the moment was a real tough test.
Salford defended desperately for the first quarter of the match and hardly had any possession. The Dragons pack dominated the game and with the Red Devils really light in the pack the match was over at half time as a contest. That said though I thought the players worked hard. They looked busted at times and if it had been a boxing match the referee would of waved it off or the towel would of come in. The travelling Salford supporters were tremendous and it had me pretty emotional at the full time hooter. Not many sides would see there fans singing there hearts out for the full eighty minutes and after the match when they’d been hammered 42-0. Coach Paul Rowley and his assistant Kurt Haggerty were huddled on the pitch at full time with there players and I think the message was stick together. Sports teams go through tough times but this is when your support is needed more than ever.
Once again social media went into meltdown as people held the usual after match post-mortem. I respect everyone’s opinions and it’s always difficult to swallow defeats on a losing run.
I took my daughter and dad with me to France via Spain and we had a wonderful time bonding over the club we love. On arrival back home on Sunday evening I did a bit of thinking and I hope you don’t mind me sharing my thoughts below with you.
At school I was never real academic. I failed all my exams apart from History. I didn’t really excel in anything back then. The only thing I was any good at was supporting Salford. It was like an addiction. The more pain and disappointment I got the more it meant to me and I went back for more. I suppose that’s why I get quite nostalgic and tend to live in the past more often than I should. I’ve probably spent far too much time thinking and worrying about Salford Rugby League club. I’ve always got emotional about them and just recently I tend to write my feelings down. Some may disagree, some may think it’s nonsense and irrelevant. I find it helps me let off some steam and keeps in on the straight and narrow.
Over the last few weeks I’ve read lots of negative things about the club. Lots of rants and melt downs on social media. I don’t really comment or argue with anyone in those circles but I’ll tell you how I feel and what it all means to me.
It’s not about money men, star players leaving, referees, share holders, band wagons, shiny stadiums, fancy kits, attendances and parochial attitudes! It’s about the badge! The badge you fell in love with! The Club and its history! All those highs and lows! That dream you’ve held dear for so long! Don’t let anybody take that away from you! You are the club, the foundation that makes it stand tall. No matter how difficult it gets never give up on it, never walk away.
One of the comforting aspects of sport is that there is always the next game to try and put things right. This week it’s another extremely difficult task with the visit of Champions St.Helens.
Saints have hit some really good form in the Super League in recent weeks but were beaten by Leigh in a thrilling Challenge Cup semi final. If there was ever a game to bounce back in this would be it. Salford have looked low on confidence and a big performance on Sunday could be just the ingredient to turn things round. The race for the top six is still as tight as ever and the Red Devils are still very much in the hunt but this losing run needs bringing to a halt and fast!
Super League home record.
1997 Salford 39 St. Helens 26
1998 Salford 14 St. Helens 18
1999 Salford 10 St. Helens 23
2000 Salford 4 St. Helens 58
2001 Salford 16 St. Helens 56
2002 Salford 24 St. Helens 28
2004 Salford 30 St. Helens 20
2005 Salford 22 St. Helens 33
2006 Salford 10 St. Helens 12
2007 Salford 20 St. Helens 32
2009 Salford 20 St. Helens 10
2010 Salford 42 St. Helens 34
2011 Salford 22 St. Helens 56
2012 Salford 10 St. Helens 32
2013 Salford 10 St. Helens 52
2014 Salford 0 St. Helens 38
2015 Salford 6 St. Helens 52
2016 Salford 44 St. Helens 10
2017 Salford 22 St. Helens 14
2017 Salford 4 St. Helens 30 (Super 8s)
2018 Salford 10 St. Helens 60
2019 Salford 4 St. Helens 26
2020 Salford 12 St.Helens 10 (behind closed doors at Headingley).
2021 Salford 26 St.Helens 14
2022 Salford 44 St.Helens 12
They played for both.
Over the years there has been so much player movement between the two clubs. The town of St Helens is a real hot bed of the game with some fantastic amateur set ups including Thatto Heath, Blackbrook and Clock Face. In the Super League era Matty Smith, Jordan Turner, Lama Tasi, Matty Costello, Tommy Lee, Theo Fages, Mark Edmondson, Mark Flanagan, Willie Talu, Tony Puletua, Francis Meli, Matty Ashurst, Paul Forber, Lee Gaskell, Bobbie Goulding, Andrew Dixon, Danny Arnold, Karle Hammond, Joey Hayes, Alan Hunte, Tim Jonkers, Joey Lussick, Mark Lee, Dean McGillvary, Andy Platt, Gareth Price, Steve Tyrer, Adam Walker, Chris Morley, Josh Jones and Anthony Stewart to name a few.
Paul Groves, Paul Brownbill, Clive Griffiths, Frank Wilson, Paul Grimes, John Mantle, John Knighton, Steve Rule, Ken Gwilliam, George Nicholls, Darren Bloor and Eric Prescott played for both clubs in the pre super League era. Alex Murphy and Shaun McRae have coached both sides.
A MATCH TO REMEMBER Friday 3rd July 2009.
Salford 20 St.Helens 10.
This was a night where young star Stefan Ratchford really came of age. Then just twenty one years old Salford’s rising prospect claimed two tries in the opening ten minutes to send the City Reds roaring in front. Both scores were converted by John Wilshire to put the home side 12-0 up.
Remarkably, a third score arrived in the 16th minute when Ratchford orchestrated a fine flowing move which culminated in centre Darrell Goulding crossing in the left corner.
Salford deservedly led 16-0 at the break and, though Saints responded in the second half with a try through young replacement Andrew Dixon, there was no comeback.
Salford lost Jeremy Smith to the sin bin in the fifty third minute but their defence was outstanding. St. Helens were flying high and bang on form coming into this match, in fact they had won their previous sixteen away matches.
Australia three quarter Mark Henry scored just before the hour mark to put Salford firmly in the driving seat much to the delight of the home supporters.
Francis Meli scores a consolation try in the final minute for Saints but this match was all about Salford and a very memorable victory.
This victory ended a run of four defeats for Shaun McRae’s City Reds. The joy was sadly short lived, eight days later Salford were well beaten in South Wales by Celtic Crusaders 25-12 and only managed one victory out of their remaining nine games.
The teams that night:
Salford, Wilshere, Henry, Littler, Goulding, McGilvary, J Smith, Ratchford, Cashmere, Alker, Stapleton, Adamson, Sidlow, Swain.
Subs, Leuluai, Jewitt, Walton, Hunter-Paul.
St.Helens, Wellens, Gardener, Flannery, Dean, Meli, Eastmond, Long, Graham, Roby, Hargreaves, Ashurst, Puletua, Gilmour.
Subs, Fa’asavalu, Ellis, Dixon, Clough.
Referee, James Child.
When Salford were visitors to St.Helens earlier in the season the Red Devils were in confident mood and on a good run of form. After surrendering a twelve point lead that day Salford received an even bigger blow losing second row man Shane Wright. The Australian is a big character in the side and he was playing superbly well. Salford’s pack has took a bit of a pounding of the past few months. Wright and Kallum Watkins are both currently injured and Sam Stone has also spent time on the treatment table. Add to that losing Tyler Dupree to Wigan and Salford are desperately in need of reinforcements.
On a more positive note Brad Singleton has joined on a deal until the end of the 2025 season. The Cumbrian forward has played over two hundred matches for Leeds and Wigan respectively and will bolster the pack with his size and strength. Singleton is a no nonsense player who loves to get stuck in.
Saints will arrive in good form having won six from there last eight games since the two sides met in May. That said they have showed a vulnerable side at times in 2023 and that was outlined when they got thumped at Hull just a few weeks ago. Defeat to Leigh in the Challenge Cup semi final was a shock to the system and Paul Wellens will now want a big response from his players going into the final few weeks of the season.
We all know what to expect from Saints, they will play the game at one hundred miles an hour and be very physical. They are struggling on the injury front having lost Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Agnatius Paasi and Alex Walmersley for a significant period of time.
All eyes will be on the Salford squad this week. Paul Rowley will be sweating on the fitness of Marc Sneyd but King Vuniyayawa will return after his airport problems last week. Tim Lafai is expected to return and Danny Addy should be available after a head knock in training last week.
Sunday promises to be an exciting afternoon. Salford will be celebrating their 150th anniversary and lots of former players are coming to watch the match including many former favourites from the 1970s Championship winning teams. It’s going to be another carnival atmosphere and a match not to be missed.
The action gets under way at 3pm.
Safe travels and enjoy the match.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos and the St.Helens star.