Centurions Respond To Simon Grix’s Comments On The AB Sundecks 1895 Cup

Leigh Centurions have responded to the comments made by Halifax coach Simon Grix in which he refers to his club’s recent AB Sundecks 1895 Cup-tie as a “a borderline Mickey Mouse game.”

In the article by Gareth Walker, also syndicated by League Publications to Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs, Walker writes:

Halifax coach Simon Grix says the 1895 Cup can work – but needs to be reviewed on a number of fronts before next season.

Grix’s Fax and Bradford both fielded second-string teams and were heavily beaten by Sheffield and Barrow respectively in midweek, just four days after their Challenge Cup quarter-final.

And Grix says that scheduling is a key issue if the competition is to be taken more seriously by clubs in future.

He said: “You’ve got to question it being in midweek. If anyone thinks clubs are taking it seriously, then they should look at ours and Bradford’s results.

“It needs a rethink. I think the original idea where the final would be played before the Challenge Cup, everyone got on board with.

“But then the goalposts were moved and it will be played afterwards, plus there’s no money in it for clubs and players are risking their bodies for no reward.

“The game against Sheffield cost us as a club – not a lot, but enough, because who wants to turn out for what was a borderline Mickey Mouse game?

“The old Northern Rail Cup was brilliant, and this could be as well if it’s done properly.

“But you can’t have it as part of three games in a week for part-time players.”

By contrast former Leigh Centurions head coach Keiron Purtill, now in charge at Widnes Vikings is supportive of the competition.

Purtill said: “The 1895 Cup is very important to us, particularly this season after what the club has been through.

“Having the 12 points taken off us means that realistically this is the only trophy we can win, and it would be a fantastic way to finish the season off and thank the fans that helped save us by giving them a day out at Wembley.

“It would be great for the players themselves as well – not many of them have played in big matches on a big stage like that.”

One club that has really valued and embraced the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup is Leigh Centurions with owner Derek Beaumont seeing

mileage in it to the point of partnering his business as title sponsor to the competition.

Like Purtill he recognises the reward and value of coaches, players and their families having the opportunity to perform at Wembley, something not many Rugby League players get to embrace.

Mr Beaumont said: “I am very disappointed at Simon’s comments. Perhaps they are a little naive given his inexperience starting out as a coach. To refer to the competition as ‘Mickey Mouse’ is insulting to the sport, the title sponsor, the broadcast partner and the governing body, not to mention the clubs taking part and their passionate fans.

“I would imagine on reflection he will perhaps regret those comments or at least I hope he would.

“Like others at first I was disappointed the final would be played after the Coral Challenge Cup Final but having digested it I think it works better. If the game was before I believe most of the fans attending the Challenge Cup Final would still be enjoying the build-up to their final in the pubs in and around Wembley and would likely watch the game with one eye on the BBC.

“Whereas after the Challenge Cup Final fans are already in the stadium and I believe there is more chance of them staying.

“The AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final has the potential to swell the Wembley crowd for the whole event, attracting two teams’ sets of fans on top of the Challenge Cup finalists’ fans.

“Clubs have to do what is best for their own position and Simon is fortunate enough to have deservedly led his team to the semi-final of the Challenge Cup which would also impact on his decision.

“But to ridicule it for other clubs taking it seriously is disappointing and poor from him.

“I would be proud leading a team out at Wembley to play tiddly winks so to have the potential chance to do so in a game of Rugby League I find highly motivating at any level.

“This concept makes the unthinkable dream a real prospect to so many that contribute so much to the Rugby League family and the RFL should be applauded for this, not ridiculed.

“One thing is for sure, irrespective of Leigh Centurions’ progression to Wembley I shall be there enjoying and applauding the two teams that contest the inaugural 1895 AB Sundecks Cup Final, one I hope will be the first of many to come.”

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