BATLEY BULLDOGS chief executive Paul Harrison wants supporters to stick by the club in what he described as a “tough year.”
John Kear’s side sit 10th in the Kingstone Press Championship after Wednesday’s defeat to London, played in front of a crowd of just 341.
After registering just four league wins all season, Harrison insists the head coach still has the full support of the board.
“We are behind John 100 per cent, he’s doing a great job with the resources he has,” he said.
“If you take two half-backs out of any side, even Leigh or Bradford, they will struggle.”
“We are battling in and once we get a win and our players back, we’ll kick on. It’s been a tough year. We started well, but it’s tough when you lose players in key positions.”
Despite signing centre Elliot Cosgrove last week, Batley have been without at least one of their half-backs for the majority of the season – a problem the Bulldogs’ CEO says the club have been trying to rectify.
“We’ve been looking for a half-back for weeks now. The board and John are always looking from the Super League all way down to the amateurs. It’s not through a lack of trying,” Harrison said.
“The games are tougher this year for everyone, and everyone is in the same position. It seems like every team wants a half-back.”
Kear will still be without Cain Southernwood for Sunday’s clash with Leigh Centurions, but does expect the former Whitehaven man to return against his old side next weekend.
Southernwood’s half-back partner Scott Leatherbarrow missed a number of games at the start of the season, with Batley forced to play recognised hookers Anthony Nicholson and Alistair Leek in the halves, and in the defeats to Sheffield and London, forward Lee Mitchell has lined up at stand-off.
Harrison said he understood the fans’ frustrations this season and admitted it is a struggle trying to compete financially with some clubs in the Championship.
“It’s tough with the money distribution in this league, in comparisons to the top teams,” he said.
“We’re on the same level as Hunslet, Whitehaven, Workington, so it’s difficult to match the rest. The teams with the biggest budgets are the ones at the top.
“The club would never turn anyone away who wishes to invest but it’s hard to recruit sponsors in the championship.
“We’d need £300,000 to compete with Featherstone, and that’s just them, and then you have to look at the likes of Bradford and Leigh. We have to be realistic.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Bulldogs when they host table-toppers Leigh at the Fox’s Biscuit Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
The Centurions thrashed Batley 56-8 at the Leigh Sports Village back in April.
“We have very rarely been hammered this season, only Leigh and Sheffield really have and if we still had the bonus point we’d be right up there,” Harrison added.
This weekend’s game will be Batley’s third league fixture in the space of nine days, something Harrison isn’t particulary pleased about.
“It’s unfair on a part-time team but that’s how the league has structured it,” he said. “We want to climb up the ladder, so we can moan about it or just get on with it.
“Sport can be cruel sometimes, but I ask fans to stay loyal. We are getting players back and once they return we will be as good as anyone on our day.
“I want fans to stick with us. We’re playing at a good level, and I think it’s easy to find excuses but the true supporters will stick with us. The players need the fans now more than ever.
“We’ve been in this situation before, and when we made it to the grand final we lost six out of seven games on the way.”