97-99

  • This topic has 22 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated 6 May 21 @ 3:23 pm by widneslatic.
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  • #9231
    Spike Island 90
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    As a young fan at that time, I can’t remember but Long/West periods. Many have said it was the darkest time to support Widnes but why was this the case?

     

    #9234
    GofynGofyn
    • Posts: 20
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    Don’t forget Bernard long.

    If my memory serves correct. We re signed Andy Currier and Sean long to record our first away win in 18 months at Workington. I’d love a player like Paul Gartland or Anthony Samuels in this team.

    #9235
    CJ91
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    99 was actually a pretty good season (it was the first one I went to).

    Finished 3rd, lost late on in the Play-Off Semi Final at Hunslet.

    Oh for Phil Cantillon in his prime for this team!

    #9236
    JJ65JJ65
    • Posts: 10
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    Cracking day out at Hunslet in the first play off game when we won.

    Then Dewsbury away when Eaton kicked us out the game wasn’t so good.

     

    #9410
    Magnus
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    Yes, very dark days indeed. We couldn’t do anything right. Couldn’t even kick off correctly. Everything we did as just appalling.

    As to why, I’m not sure – to be honest I always liked Graham West – just don’t think there was the cash available.

    #9418
    GofynGofyn
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    This was around the time we forgot to have minutes silence. So had it at the start of 2nd half.

    #9422
    widneslatic
    • Posts: 22
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    I’d actually say it was more ’96-’98 than ’97-’99.

    The first Summer season after reaching the Challenge Cup Semi-Final in 1996 was when it hit home how grim things were becoming.

    Attendances plummeted to regular sub 2,000 levels… our last remaining star players went to try and ease our rapidly increasing debt… and our last ever game in the old Naughton Park was a soul destroying 6-6 draw with Rochdale Hornets – Not exactly a fitting end to a place which held so many wonderful memories, for so many people.

    1997 did start with hope though, We had a new name… Widnes Vikings… A new Souvenir Shop in the Town Centre…. The steel structure of what would become the North & South Stands were starting to take shape… We even won our opening league game against newly relegated Workington Town.

    …But, that was as good as it got.

    Very quickly we started to realise that the squad wasn’t good enough, and Bernard Long (despite being able assisted by Sir Doug Laughton) was well & truly out of his depth.

    It wasn’t long after that, the cold hard reality hit home… The club was in deep, deep trouble.

    Soon, the inevitable bucket collections began, and weekly emergency supporters meetings took place at The Albion. It was only then did we begin to understand just how perilously close to liquidation we were.

    The debt we had was large, but serviceable, however, due to the late payment of the final instalment of the Martin Offiah transfer fee from Wigan Warriors, the bank issued a foreclosure notice against the club.

    Thankfully for us, Tony Chambers stepped in to save us with hours to spare, and soon after that, Wigan finally stumped up the cash (better late, than never…I suppose!)

    However, Things didn’t get better for us overnight, new coach Graeme West couldn’t halt the slide towards the relegation trap door, and indeed, relegation was confirmed after a home defeat to Featherstone Rovers on the 13th.of July 1997.

    However, due to the implosion of Super League clubs, Paris Saint Germain and Oldham Bears, we actually survived relegation because 2 clubs from the Championship (Hull Sharks and Huddersfield Giants) were to be promoted to make up the shortfall, meaning there was only going to be 1 up & 1 down between Championship & League 1.

    1998 was a transitional year for the club, with plenty of ups and downs…The Autoquest Stadium was up & running… The debt was slowly starting to come down… But, things on the pitch were still a weekly struggle.

    We lost talisman Jamie Bloem to Halifax midway through the season (helping to reduce our debt further), and towards the end of the season Graeme West lost his job after increasingly poor performances.

    1999 was beyond our wildest dreams, in comparison…

    #9427
    widneslatic
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    Cracking day out at Hunslet in the first play off game when we won. Then Dewsbury away when Eaton kicked us out the game wasn’t so good.

    That was the game Hunslet made it pay on the gate, because they couldn’t get the tickets back from the printers in time, so 2,000+ Widnes fans turned up at the South Leeds Stadium 3 hours early, to make sure they got in.

    A lot of Hunslet fans never saw the game, because the gates were closed an hour before kick off 😂😂😂

    #9430
    Spike Island 90
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    Very informative Widneslatic, it seemed the biggest issues were off the pitch and the on-field struggles were merely a reflection of the shoddy off the field drama.

    Who was in the charge of the club during this time? And why was club in such a poor financial state given that in 93/94 the club sold virtually the whole team and the club was saved?

     

     

    #9432
    widneslatic
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    Very informative Widneslatic, it seemed the biggest issues were off the pitch and the on-field struggles were merely a reflection of the shoddy off the field drama.

    Who was in the charge of the club during this time? And why was club in such a poor financial state given that in 93/94 the club sold virtually the whole team and the club was saved?

    No worries mate, I remember it like it was yesterday.

    Jim Mills & Sammy Evans were in charge at the time.

    Not sure how things got so bad, I guess the initial debt (what led to the Widnes In Need Appeal in 1993) was larger than we first thought, and the lack of success on the field coupled with dwindling attendances off it, probably exacerbated the situation.

    One thing I didn’t know until the Emergency Meetings, was the Martin Offiah fee was in 5 yearly instalments.

    Had we got the £440,000 in 1 lump sum, it might’ve saved a lot of future heartache.

     

    #9433
    Spike Island 90
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    Appears that the club was run like a circus, how the hell did Bernard Long even get the gig?

    #9434
    widneslatic
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    Appears that the club was run like a circus, how the hell did Bernard Long even get the gig?

    Considering Bernard Long was coaching me at Wigan St.Judes not 3 years before, I’ve absolutely no idea how he came to be Widnes coach.

    I do seem to remember that Doug Laughton didn’t fancy the job on a full time basis any more, so maybe they brought Long in, so Laughton could mentor him.

    Unfortunately for both parties, it simply didn’t work out.

    The club must’ve seen something in Long though, as after he was sacked from 1st team duties, he was immediately re-hired to work with the Academy team.

    #9435
    Sinbad
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    The games at Runcorn, around 900/ 1200 attendance.

    #9436
    widneslatic
    • Posts: 22
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    The games at Runcorn, around 900/ 1200 attendance.

    With about 100 or so more watching from the Expressway flyover above 😂😂😂

    To be fair, I wasn’t expecting many at Canal Street, We had just been relegated to League 1, and the Divisional Premiership competition that year was a complete joke.

    It went from a straightforward knockout competition, to a Champions League style group format, and the only purpose of that was to pad out the season.

    #9437
    MT
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    Not many fond memories of those games at Runcorn. Apart from future Russian international prop Bob Campbell scoring a hat trick for us in a rare win!

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