Kevin Brown: The story behind crossing the divide between Widnes Vikings and War

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #2903
    DJones
    • Posts: 37
    • South Stander
    • ☆☆☆

    https://www.skysports.com/rugby-league/news/12204/11971939/kevin-brown-the-story-behind-crossing-the-divide-between-widnes-vikings-and-warrington-wolves

    In December 2016, Kevin Brown stunned the rugby league world by making the switch from Widnes Vikings to bitter rivals Warrington Wolves.

    The transfer of their captain to the team barely seven miles down A562 proved contentious among the Vikings’ faithful and saw the man himself vilified by some.

    But, speaking to the Golden Point podcast, Brown revealed the details behind the move and what he had to deal with on a personal level in the aftermath.

    “It’s difficult,” Brown told Sky Sports. “Because I never really got to tell my side of the story.”

    A fierce historic rivalry
    The rivalry between Widnes and Warrington’s rugby clubs pre-dates the formation of the Northern Union, with newspaper reports of their first meeting in 1878 noting “some fierceness on both sides”.

    That fierceness has come to the fore plenty of times in the intervening 142 years, notably in the 1970s when Welsh forwards Jim Mills and Mike Nicholas would battle it out, and the 1980s when Kurt Sorensen and Les Boyd added an antipodean flavour to hostilities.

    Widnes being outside of what is now Super League at various points during the summer era means the derby does perhaps not have the prominence of others in the competition, but Brown quickly came to learn just how fierce it is when he joined the Vikings from Huddersfield Giants in 2013.

    Warrington and Widnes battling it out in the 1975 Challenge Cup final
    “I didn’t realise the Widnes-Warrington derby was, one, as big and, two, the hatred there is,” said Brown, who made his professional debut in a derby between Wigan Warriors and St Helens aged 18.

    “I think Wigan and Saints have a friendly rivalry where they enjoy it, but Widnes and Warrington genuinely hate each other’s clubs and that’s something which really got ingrained in me – probably more when I left.”

    The most prominent derby memory from his time with the Vikings came in 2013, when they overcame the odds to triumph at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

    Missing key players Jon Clarke and Gareth Hock, the visitors were further hampered when Hep Cahill was dismissed late in the first half for a high shot on Brett Hodgson. However, an inspirational display from 19-year-old Jack Owens helped ensure Widnes emerged 16-6 victors.

    Widnes and Warrington genuinely hate each other’s clubs and that’s something which really got ingrained in me – probably more when I left

    Kevin Brown

    Brown quickly became an influential player at the Vikings too, becoming the first player from the club to earn a place in Super League’s Dream Team in 2014 as Denis Betts’ men qualified for the play-offs for the first time.

    That season saw them reach the Challenge Cup semi-finals as well, losing to eventual runners-up Castleford Tigers, but those moments would be fleeting and Brown admits he became frustrated as players like Australian forward Danny Galea were allowed to leave without being replaced.

    However, the decision to cross the divide was a result of Warrington coming in with a significant bid for the stand-off rather than him looking to leave.

    “I was getting frustrated because we’d hit these semi-finals, made the play-offs for the first time and we were knocking all these tins over and really progressing,” Brown said. “But the budget was slipping and we were having a few problems.

    Kevin Brown enjoyed some good times with Widnes
    “I had a really good chat with (chief executive) James Rule and Denis Betts about that, then Warrington came in and put a massive transfer offer in which really helped the club and I thought I was doing a good thing.

    “I’d been there for four years, I’d given good service and as I left they got an awful lot of money to put to good use when the club was struggling.

    “But that never got across, the line was it was an undisclosed fee and I wanted to leave, so all the stick got directed to me.”

    ‘I got 300 plastic snakes thrown at me’
    Brown featured against his old club in Super League and the Challenge Cup during that first season, scoring a hat-trick in the latter match, but had to wait until the Super Eights for his first appearance back at the Halton Stadium as both of the previous games had been in Warrington.

    Kevin Brown scores against Widnes for Warrington in the Challenge Cup
    That match came in early in August, with plastic snakes being thrown at Brown and him being booed pretty much every time he touched the ball as the Wolves fought back from being 12-6 down at half-time to triumph 28-14.

    But the significance of the night was lost on new team-mate Peta Hiku, who had moved to Warrington mid-season from NRL club Penrith Panthers.

    “When I went to Warrington, it validated how bad the hatred was,” Brown said. “It all boiled over to when we played Widnes at Widnes in the first time I’d been back to the club and I got probably 300 plastic snakes thrown at me.

    “Peta Hiku, who had just come over to play with, had no idea of the history or where I’d come from and he was picking up these snakes and throwing them back having no idea what was going on.

    Peta Hiku had no idea of the history or where I’d come from and he was picking up these snakes and throwing them back having no idea what was going on

    Kevin Brown
    “It was only when we told him after the game I’d just left the club and the massive rivalry that he semi-understood what was going on.”

    Brown, now playing for Salford Red Devils, still looks back fondly on his stay at Widnes though and reflects on the four years as a period where he was at the top of his game.

    He remains on good terms with former head coach Betts as well, which made the fall-out from his transfer difficult to deal with at the time.

    “It was hard because I had a really good connection with the Widnes fans, I played my best rugby there and it was probably the most enjoyable period of my career,” Brown said.

    “Looking back, it wasn’t ideal how I did it; I did it on pre-season, I was away on holiday in Mexico when I got the call, so I never really spoke face-to-face with people like Denis.

    “But we are still very good friends and that never changed through the decisions. They were never done behind anyone’s back, so to leave and get so much stick was tough.”

    #2905
    Badly Overdrawn BoyBadly Overdrawn Boy
    • Posts: 72
    • Time to get a VIQI
    • ☆☆☆☆

    That’s a really interesting read and think he’s probably summed up what most fans thought had happened, pretty accurately.

    One of those “if only” moments in our recent history.

    #2906
    Frankg
    • Posts: 386
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    “I’d been there for four years, I’d given good service and as I left they got an awful lot of money to put to good use when the club was struggling.”

    Well, at least we know that the money was put to good use!

    I have never really understood the hatred aimed at Brown by a few fans. As he says, he gave four years good service to the Club and the Club accepted a substantial offer from Warrington to sign him. Any blame should clearly be laid at the door of Rule, who failed to invest the transfer money in new players.

    Brown was frustrated when players like “Danny Galea were allowed to leave and not being replaced”.  I wonder whether Betts expressed similar frustrations at the time.

    He also says that “…….. but the budget was slipping and we were having a few problems.”  Does this mean that Rule was concerned that the gravy train for him and other Directors was coming to an end and this money allowed them to milk the club for another two years. Where did the money go? What we need now is for Betts to give his side of the story about the failure to invest in players in 2017 and what he new about the “few problems” at the club.

    #2910
    SinbadSinbad
    • Posts: 294
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    He does’nt speak for me.I don’t ‘hate’ anyone or any club but obviously there are lots of cretins that do.

    #2911
    Farnworth Viking
    • Posts: 278
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    Obviously Rule won’t ever say what happened to the money we got for Brown, I’m not sure if Betts would say, that’s if he knows, but we could do with trying to find another director from that time(who wasn’t in rules pocket) to find out what happened.

    I think Rule said at the time Browns money was used to pay our debts off, but didn’t mention how we had got such a big debt, with fairly average players and attendances not too bad. But we got rid of Brown and the debts still didn’t go away.

    #2912
    RobboRobbo
    • Posts: 50
    • Time to get a VIQI
    • ☆☆☆☆

    I never understood the animosity towards Brown except that he moved to Warrington. This is a professional sport and players move around all the time. Some of the vitriol was frankly childish and embarrassing.

    #2913
    Mick George
    • Posts: 142
    • North Stander
    • ☆☆☆☆☆

    Obviously Rule won’t ever say what happened to the money we got for Brown, I’m not sure if Betts would say, that’s if he knows, but we could do with trying to find another director from that time(who wasn’t in rules pocket) to find out what happened. I think Rule said at the time Browns money was used to pay our debts off, but didn’t mention how we had got such a big debt, with fairly average players and attendances not too bad. But we got rid of Brown and the debts still didn’t go away.

    The debt was from the enormous salaries of Betty, The Midget and The Lonely leader, KB was on a good wedge but he actually earned his money. I remember the sky team making comments about Betty’s salary and they where astounded.

    #2914
    SinbadSinbad
    • Posts: 294
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    You would’nt mind so much if he were a minor miracle worker like Powell at Cas but he was’nt, he was atrocious.Astonishingly Betts would get another slice of the cake after his first one was gone, in the shape of another lucrative contract.The money that was siphoned off by non productive personel must have been astronomical.No wonder they were’nt interested in big signings after Kevin Brown, they must’ve realised that big signings leaves less in the pot for themselves.

    #2915
    Frankg
    • Posts: 386
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    Obviously Rule won’t ever say what happened to the money we got for Brown, I’m not sure if Betts would say, that’s if he knows, but we could do with trying to find another director from that time(who wasn’t in rules pocket) to find out what happened. I think Rule said at the time Browns money was used to pay our debts off, but didn’t mention how we had got such a big debt, with fairly average players and attendances not too bad. But we got rid of Brown and the debts still didn’t go away.

    The debt was from the enormous salaries of Betty, The Midget and The Lonely leader, KB was on a good wedge but he actually earned his money. I remember the sky team making comments about Betty’s salary and they where astounded.

    I recollect someone suggesting that Betts was on £150,000. If so, that may account for him not walking away from the job in 2016 or after. Did he get a contract extension after the 2017 season? An extension was not warranted in view of the poor season we had in 2017. That is when a change should have been made.

    Again, lots of figures banded about regarding the funds extracted from the Club by the three Directors (Rule, Sneddon and Munson – Rule’s mate from Hull). I think a total figure of between £300,000 and £400,000 in salary payments to these three has been mentioned. Whatever they took from the club was too much.

    #2923
    Spike Island 90
    • Posts: 248
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    The apathy that was shown to Brown was appalling and completely and utterly unjustifiable. He was essentially forced out by Rule and why would he want to stay at a club that had no plans to “challenge for trophies”.

     

    Like he alluded to, communication or the lack of communication was certainly is downfall. Remember him been interviewed in the match program and he was quoted as saying “he’s going to finish his career at Widnes” then 2 months later he leaves.

    #3051
    Irishtrevor
    • Posts: 23
    • Kemik’s Assistant
    • ☆☆

    The apathy that was shown to Brown was appalling and completely and utterly unjustifiable. He was essentially forced out by Rule and why would he want to stay at a club that had no plans to “challenge for trophies”. Like he alluded to, communication or the lack of communication was certainly is downfall. Remember him been interviewed in the match program and he was quoted as saying “he’s going to finish his career at Widnes” then 2 months later he leaves.

    I’m sure you, your Wire Willy and Deadhead Delta gave him enough abuse on the old forum ACAPE.  Now the truth has come out you feel a bit of remorse.

    #3155
    James
    • Posts: 232
    • First Teamer
    • ☆☆☆☆☆☆

    Must admit, I do feel sorry for Kevin Brown the way he was treated. I was fortunate enough to speak to him at length in the January after he had gone to Warrington.

    Clearly, selling him was the best (only?) way to ensure the three directors’ salaries could continue for another year or two.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he was being touted around the league for that reason.

    As much as Brown faltered a little on the pitch in his final few months with us, it was clear he added tremendous value to us beyond what he did on the pitch – he was the go between between the players and Denis Betts, and I suppose we’ll never know truly how much our run in 2014-16 was down to Brown’s leadership.

Back to Forum Home | Mark Topic Read  | 
Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.