A brace of tries from Levell Lewis and another from Dave Pawson saw Almondbury Spartans pull off a Holliday Cup shock at Laund Hill on Friday night.
The Spartans were underdogs against Grand Final winners Newsome Panthers but dominated for over an hour going 14-0 up before surviving a late fightback. Spartans held on to win 14-6.
The victory sparked big celebrations and left some sore heads on Saturday morning and Spartans founder, chairman and head coach Craig Morgan said: “It was brilliant from the lads and all 17 players played their part and did the whole club proud.
“We were the underdogs against a very good side but we had a game plan and we stuck to it. We were on the front foot all the time and it was basic rugby league. It was a constant arm wrestle and all about completing our sets.
“The lads were up for it and we are just like a family at Spartans. It’s never say die.”
There was a bit of psychology too with the players asked for a word or phrase to inspire them on the pitch.
The words were printed out and pinned on the wall before the game and each player was asked to choose one and explain what it meant to them. ‘Togetherness’, ‘heart’, believe’, ‘trust’ and ‘brothers’ were just some of the words which proved inspirational.
Dave Pawson and son Leo celebrate with the Holliday Cup and, below, Craig Morgan and son Kian
Man of the Match Levell Lewis and some of the inspirational notes
Try-scorer Dave, who may be about to hang up his boots at the age of 38, described the game as a triumph for ‘togetherness’ and a victory written in the stars.
“We had a meeting on Wednesday night and the way the players spoke about why they wanted to win this game I just knew we would do it,” he said.
“I’ve been in the game a long time and been in lots of different teams and I could feel there was something special about to happen.
“From the moment we walked into the changing rooms everything just clicked. The atmosphere, playing under floodlights, playing at night even makes the grass smell different.
“It was all about togetherness. We stuck together and battled for eachother and that’s what got us the win.”
Before the game Dave told Huddersfield Hub that the final would probably be his last game and he wanted to end his 21-year playing career on a high.
He did that but his personal performance and that togetherness as a team means he might be persuaded to play again next year.
“Spartans are a massive family and if Craig was to ask me I probably couldn’t say no,” said Dave.
Craig said the architect of the team’s victory was his son Kian Morgan, who handles the technical and tactical side of the coaching.
“We trained for this for six weeks,” he said. “It was all about the mindset and the game plan and without Kian I don’t think we could have achieved it.”
Craig wants to thank the following: Jordan Paga; Fred Francis; Kate Willcock; Helen Riley; Mariella Fisher; Simon Thornton; Pennie Smith; Marie Mulvary; and Marta from 5core Huddersfield; Lepton Highlanders; Sue and John Taylor for arranging and organising the Holliday and Supplementary Cups; and sponsors old and new.