I fully understand the frustration shown by fans of Salford Red Devils over what looks like a fait accompli where the proposed name change from Salford to Manchester is concerned.
Back when Super League started, there were a number of proposals for mergers, to create “Super City” teams, one of which would have seen my club Hull Kingston Rovers merged with our rivals Hull FC.
Luckily, this didn’t come to pass for the Robins, but Hull DID have a number of iterations before returning to Hull FC via Gateshead Thunder, Hull Sharks and probably a few others.
Would I have supported a merged Hull club?
I very much doubt it.
The two clubs have recently merged their academy set ups, mainly for financial reasons I understand, but there was a significant backlash against that at the time as well.
Where would the pride in playing for the shirt come from if it were neither red and white or black and white?
Who would get first pick of the players deemed good enough to progress?
I was brought up in the East of Hull, and a Rovers fan through and through. I could never envisage the day when there was just one club, and despite spending a fair amount of time outside of Super League, I have never wavered in my belief that we would one day win silverware again.
(Just don’t mention the Challenge Cup final, OK?)
We are currently in the championship, having failed to beat Salford Devils in the Million Pound Game, and are looking like being in the mix for the middle 8’s and possible promotion at the end of the season.
Would that have been the case if we had been part of a Hull super club?
Probably not, but where would the merged club have played?
No doubt the KCom stadium as it is now, whilst East Hull sports stadia would no doubt be left to go to rack and ruin.
The club would have been Hull FC in all but name, and that might not have been guaranteed…
Salford is a club with a long, proud history, that in my opinion should not be consigned to the waste basket.
However, the club do appear to be fighting a losing battle where bums on seats are concerned.
Don’t let anyone tell you though that everything was perfect at the Willows though.
If Marwan Koukash hadn’t put his money where his mouth is, the current argument would be moot.
There would be no Salford for the fans to support.
Certainly, I don’t seem to remember the RFL leaping to help Salford out of trouble as publicly as they have done Bradford on a number of occasions.
Would I go watch a Manchester rugby league team?
Not because I like the idea of a a Manchester team, but because I love the sport itself.
I know just how heartbroken I would have been had Rovers disappeared, so I have every sympathy with Devils fans.
Would a name change bring more fans to the AJ Bell?
I doubt it.
The access is still diabolical.
Even after 5 years of roadworks, unfulfilled promises of bridges linger like a whisper of a lover after sex…
Who is to blame for that?
Peel? Salford Council?
As Robbie Hunter-Paul told the BBC’s Dave Woods;
“The club has stagnated since it’s move from the Willows to the AJ Bell.”
But also he said that the research was to look at how they could grow as an organisation.
Now, when I first came to Salford, just after I left the army, the only way I could watch a game of League, was at the Willows, and I had many a happy game stood on the terrace watching the club.
One of my best mates from the Forces’ brothers used to be the assistant coach, a certain Lee Spencer, and I even changed the nappy of his lad Jack on more than one occasion, so I do have a small link to your great club, other than reporting for Quays News and the MEN.
Indeed, my youngest son will tell you he is a Salford fan, rather than following in his Dad’s footsteps as a Robin.
Whatever the outcome, this season (and last to be honest) You have had one hell of a squad, fighting for every point and each other.
In Ian Watson, you have one of THE best British coaches in the game, tied to a long term deal, as are most of the squad.
The future for Salford is very bright.
I just hope that the people of your dirty old town realise what they would lose if the club re-branded to Manchester before it’s too late…
Salford without a rugby league club?
It really doesn’t bear thinking about…