The first Widnes team of the last decade

As we close in on the end of the decade, we take a look back at Widnes’ first competitive game of it.

It came at home to Gateshead in the Northern Rail Cup, a crowd of 2,200 enoying a 50-6 victory.

James Ford

This was Ford’s debut and it could hardly have gone better for the now York coach, as he raced in four tries. He had arrived in that off-season having predominantly played as a centre, but was determined to forge a new career as a full-back. That was fine in attack, but he was often woefully exposed under the high ball in his early games and he would only go on to score two more tries in his other 11 appearances for the Vikings.

Scott Yates

A highly-rated product of the academy, Yates never really lived up to expectations, though did manage 12 appearances in this campaign. He was the nominated goalkicker in this opening game and managed just one successful conversion – Widnes managed three from 11 tries, a sign of one of the problems of this campaign.

Chris Dean

He scored a try in the first game of the decade and duly marked his last game as a professional with a four-pointer in what was Widnes’ last game of the decade, the away win at Dewsbury back in September. This game against Gateshead in 2010, was Dean’s debut during a second loan spell from St Helens.

Shane Grady

This was Grady’s break out year in the centres, he would score 252 points in 26 games at the age of 20. Perhaps unfortunate not to earn a Super League deal the following year, his career has wholly been in the Championship with Dewsbury and Halifax, before going full circle back to the Vikings in 2020.

Matt Gardner

Not the most prolific of wingers, Gardner managed a try every four or so games, but was dependable, likeable and put a shift in. The win over Gateshead was his debut too.

Anthony Thackeray

Arguably the finest player Widnes had during the last stint in the Championship. Thackeray was pivotal in the 2009 Northern Rail Cup success, and was a virtual ever present in 2009 and 2010.

James Webster

A scourge of Widnes during his Hull KR days, the Australian never really replicated his Robins form for the Vikings. He started this season alongside Thackeray in the halves, but would only make 13 appearances.

Steve Pickersgill

The Warrington-born prop had joined Widnes on a permanent basis for 2010, having had a loan spell from the Wolves in 2009. Unfortunately, injuries hampered much of his career and he was forced in to early retirement at the age of 28 in 2014.

Mark Smith

Club captain and a stalwart of his era, little would we know that 2010 would be Smith’s last season at Widnes. Discarded somewhat shamefully at the end of the year, for Kirk Netherton of all people, denying him the chance to lead the Vikings back to Super League.

Jim Gannon

Signed from Hull KR, this was the first match of Gannon’s third season at the club. The Australian also played for Halifax and Huddersfield in the UK.

Lee Doran

Doran would go on to be named in the Championship Team of the Year in 2010, his last of three seasons with Widnes – which included a year at Leigh in between following the club’s administration.

Dave Allen

One of the few players who would follow the club up to Super League. This was Allen’s second debut for the club, having previously played in 2006. He failed a drugs test after the Grand Final against Hull KR and was subsequently banned for 12 months, getting his career back on track at Oldham and Barrow before returning to the Halton Stadium.

Chris Gerrard

Perhaps a forgotten man of the last Championship era, Gerrard was a ball-playing loose forward that came from Wigan’s junior set ups (as many others did). He proved an able first-teamer in 2010, but was released early in 2011 prior to a GBH charge and save for three games for Whitehaven in the same year, never played professionally again.

Thomas Coyle

Coyle would gradually go on to become a key part of the Vikings side in the Championship, especially after the departure of Smith in 2011. Earned a Super League contract for 2012 but was cruelly denied the chance to play in the top flight again after suffering a severe injury on the iPitch.

Ben Kavanagh

Would go on to be the club’s longest serving player before leaving during the Super League days. Made his debut for the club in 2008 and went on to play 180 games.

Matt Strong

Made a 11 first team appearances but wasn’t offered a deal for 2011, played for Rochdale.

Dave Houghton

The young forward was one of those harshly done to when Super League contracts were dished out, as he was well worth a deal. Ended up going on to play for Whitehaven, last playing in the professional game back in 2013 at the age of just 23. A huge shame.

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