Stags expect biggest test yet in cup final

Stags expect biggest test yet in cup final

AFTER the idea to relaunch the club came at a wedding earlier this year, Mirfield Stags will be hoping to be the bride rather than the bridesmaid in next week’s BARLA Yorkshire Cup final.

Mirfield have been invincible this season, winning 11 games out of 11 in all competitions to top the Pennine League’s top tier and reach the cup final, which they will contest against Drighlington on Sunday December 29 (kick-off 1.30pm) at Featherstone’s LD Nutrition Stadium.

Despite their success, the club was only reformed in the summer after the previous set-up closed down two years ago. Head coach – and former international referee – Richard Silverwood explained how the idea to bring the team back together came about.

“It was at a wedding to be honest! Some of the players that are playing now, they are friends of mine and they were at that wedding in May,” he said.

“Up to that point I’d had no real aspirations about setting it back up, as it took up a lot of my time. But we’d had one or two drinks and started to talk about forming it again.

“We got a bit of interest, a few of the lads said they’d be up for it, and it just went from there. 

“We started training in August, we had good numbers, sponsors were flying to us, and it’s just built and built. We didn’t really think about how well it would go but it’s been brilliant.”

With some of the old gang mixed in with new blood, it couldn’t have gone much better. 

A 48-0 win against Almondbury Spartans last weekend saw Mirfield maintain their winning streak and extend the gap at the top of the league to four points, while cup wins over Normanton Knights and Doncaster Toll Bar, either side of a quarter-final bye, have put them 80 minutes from silverware.

Silverwood revealed: “When we had the signing-on evening we were discussing which league we wanted to go in. A few of the lads were thinking ‘do we go in the league below?’ But looking round the room I thought we had enough ability, so we went for the top division and it’s worked out pretty well.

“First and foremost we’ve got some talented players, but it’s the togetherness of the group. Everybody gets on. A lot of lads have played at a higher level but fell out of love with where they’d been playing.

“They’ve come to us and they’re all saying they’ve never enjoyed their rugby so much. The lads are brilliant and I think it’s the closeness of the group that is making our success.”

Fellow Division One side Drighlington await the Stags in the final, although the two sides are yet to face each other this season. Mirfield’s quarter-final bye did give Silverwood the chance to check them out last month in their own cup tie, and he expects a strong challenge from a side coached by Dewsbury Rams player Martyn Reilly.

“We’ve played everybody else apart from Drighlington, so I don’t really know too much about them,” said the Stags boss.

“I went to watch the game against Illingworth in the quarter-finals and they seemed well drilled, they threw the ball about well. They’ve got some Conference players in there as well, so I’m expecting a really tough game.

“We’re 11 games unbeaten, including friendlies and cup matches, so we go in as favourites but we’re certainly not underestimating Drighlington. We’re expecting our toughest game of the season.”

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