The Micky Higham Column – 2nd August 2018

It’s an honour to captain Leigh Centurions, my home town club, and when Kieron invited me to take on the role again I had no hesitation in accepting.

I take over from Harrison Hansen, who is an outstanding professional and who led from the front. H was one of a number of players that left the club during what was a real rollercoaster of a week after our top four hopes disappeared.

It is sad to see the big players go and we wish them all the best in the future. The lads that remained plus the newcomers, Will Dagger and Jordan Walne stuck together and after a very difficult week put together a very good performance to beat Sheffield Eagles in our last match.

That togetherness got us through as we overcame a 10-0 deficit just before half-time to score seven tries and really turn the game around. Sheffield are a much improved side and gave us a tough test and so it was a good way to bring down the curtain on the regular season.

Talking of Will, he was born in the year I made my debut for Leigh Centurions, 1999. His heritage number is #1457, mine is #1153. That means that in those 19 years a total of 304 players have played for Leigh Centurions. Does it make me feel old? No, not at all. I’m still as proud of pulling on the jersey as when I made my debut. Will was proud to make his Leigh debut and play in front of those fans and when he goes back to Hull KR at the end of the season with Jordan and Josh, the three of them will hopefully take many happy memories with them.

Everyone is disappointed with where we finished in the Betfred Championship and we seemed to be stuck in sixth for most of the last few weeks despite our good run of results. Other results just didn’t seem to go our way at times and in the end it just wasn’t meant to be.

But to put together a run of 15 wins in 17 games, with the two defeats at the hands of Toronto was a great effort and Kieron and Ando deserve a lot of credit for the way they turned our fortunes around after we had lost five of our first six. On top of that we reached the last eight of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

There’s no point looking back or reflecting on the way just one point separated second to fifth in the Championship. We will just look forward to finishing the season strongly and playing in front of our fantastic fans.

Those supporters have backed us from Toronto to Toulouse, from Barrow to Batley and the atmosphere at the last game was really special. I didn’t hear one word of criticism, it was just magnificent the way the fans backed us and the new lads were blown away by the experience of playing for Leigh.

We are in the unknown as to what the future holds but we just have to put that to the back of our minds and worry about it when the season finishes.

We are already guaranteed a place in the Shield Final against Featherstone Rovers and we need to ensure that we guarantee ourselves a home game by winning all our remaining seven Shield games, starting with Sheffield. That’s the aim now.

There is still a lot to play for and as professionals we want to see the season out by winning a trophy. We will be going all out to give the Championship Shield our best shot.

For me as captain again, to see the way our fans backed us made me very emotional and proud. We had over 3,000 against Sheffield in our last game when they could easily have not turned up after such a tough week and with it pouring down. They were loud and proud and are fantastic for our club.

I know Derek was really chuffed with the way the fans carried on backing us and he was very proud afterwards. He’s put his money where his mouth is and given us some fantastic times over the last few years and I know that whatever the future holds he will do his best for the club. On a personal level he financed my move back to Leigh from Warrington and gave me the opportunity to finish my playing career in front of my home town fans. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

Derek’s as keen as we all are to finish the season on a high. No one is pretending that it’s been easy this year and the pressure, week after week, of trying to get a win to see us bounce back from that disappointing start to the campaign made each game the equivalent of the Million Pound Game.

Now the pressure’s off a little bit and we can enjoy our Rugby League and give the fans something to cheer and start some fresh momentum going into the future.

Best wishes,

Micky

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