THORNHILL TROJANS will take inspiration from the heroes of 20 years ago when they aim for another Challenge Cup shock against Doncaster this weekend.
Last Saturday the club held a reunion for the team which, on January 30, 2000, defeated Sheffield Eagles, who under a different guise had won the competition just two years earlier, 16-14 at the Don Valley Stadium in the third round, led by Johnny Harpin.
Danny Ratcliffe played in the curtain raiser to that game, as Thornhill’s Under-13s defeated a Sheffield Schools side, and is now the head coach tasked with leading the club out at Dewsbury Rams’ Tetley’s Stadium tomorrow (Saturday) aiming to upset another semi-professional team in Doncaster.
Ratcliffe says that he and some of the current first-team players were inspired at the reunion by the heroes of yesteryear and were given some useful advice on how they can create their own piece of Trojans history.
He said: “Some of the lads who will be playing at the weekend were in attendance, listening to what people were saying. Some of them came up to me and said that it was a great experience, to hear what they actually went through that day.
“Everything about how they set about the whole day to what it meant to them, how close they were; it was a great experience to listen to and something to work with on Saturday.
“Tactics-wise I spoke to Martin Fox and Ian Bates, who were the half-backs that day, and they said we need to make sure we complete, to try and bring them down to your level so it’s going at your pace.
“The main thing was sticking together and believing in yourself, and just going out and enjoying yourself. These moments don’t come around very often.”
Ratcliffe, who retired from playing and took on the head coach role at the end of last season, came up against Doncaster in his professional career for York and Hunslet and is aware of the talent that their current team will bring to Dewsbury.
“They’ve got some very good players in Rangi Chase, Watson Boas, Graeme Horne (and) Ross Peltier, so it’ll be good to go out there and hopefully give them a good test,” he said.
“We’re just trying to treat it as another game. I know come Saturday the nerves will be there with people wanting to go out and impress, but I’m not dwelling too much on their team.
“They’ve obviously got a very good half-back partnership. If we can put pressure on their playmakers and keep completing our sets, we should get a lot of success and we’ll see how it goes.”
Thornhill beat NCL Premier Division side Thatto Heath 22-16 and thrashed Normanton 58-14 to reach the third round, and Ratcliffe has been most pleased with the team spirit they have shown.
He said: “The lads know that I’m really proud of what they’re doing. It’s going to be a great experience for them, and not just for the players but for the club as well.
“It should be a good all-round day for everyone involved, especially the fans. I know they’ll be there in good numbers pushing us along the whole game, and hopefully we can come away with that win and put ourselves in the bag for the fourth round.”
The match will kick-off at the Tetley’s Stadium at 2pm with admission £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and free for under-12s. The Thornhill Under-8s team are sponsoring the match and will lead the team onto the field along with the Under-7s.