The official club channels are currently piecing together an all-time Widnes 17 – which will likely be dominated by players from the glory days.
Here, let’s have an alternative look at modern-day players and debate just who is the stand-out for the Vikings in the Super League era.
Responsible for some of the most exciting moments of the most recent Super League era, Hanbury’s blistering pace turned him in to a feared attacking full-back – even if he did have his critics defensively. He was surely identified as the main threat by many a Super League coach and many will utilise free bet offers on him to score any time. Who can forget the length of the field try against Salford at Magic, or indeed his hat-trick against the same opponents in what was our only away win in 2012? A Monday night in Leeds was lit up by another memorable stunner, while he almost beat Wakefield single-handedly on another occasion.
Sadly, his departure from the club following relegation was handled terribly by the previous administration, meaning he didn’t get the send-off that his contribution deserves – as the club’s top appearance maker and points scorer in Super League history.
A stylish stand-off, O’Neill too made the switch to full-back, albeit very briefly in the ill-fated 2005 season. He made an instant impact on signing in 2003, and though he made the headlines for an off-field misdemeanour prior to the 2004 campaign, he was the lynchpin of a side that just about avoided relegation. He was just about the only one to write home about in a dismal following year. He plundered 338 points in 60 appearances for the Vikings.
The stand-offs particularly had no chance in the Widnes all-time 17, and while Brown left under a cloud when jumping ship to Warrington, events since may well have mellowed some attitudes towards him. There’s no doubting that after Brown’s headline capture from Huddersfield, announced at the 2012 Magic Weekend, Widnes’ fortunes changed – as he guided the team around the park and helped reach a first ever Super League play-off place in 2014, and another top eight place in 2016. The sharpness of the club’s decline after his departure suggested that his impact was far greater than his on-pitch exploits.
Advised to retire from the NRL on medical grounds, there was some surprise when Carter rocked up to lead Widnes’ maiden Super League season in 2002. A one-club man with Penrith Down Under, racking up 244 appearances, Carter played one season in England, scoring four tries in 21 games and nearly led the club to a play-off spot in their first season. No doubt that his style of play, toughness and leadership rubbed off on many that year.
They are some of the names that stand-out from the 11 seasons Widnes have spent in Super League. As we await to see what the future brings, maybe next time we’ll put together a 17 from the Super League days.