WHEN Garreth Carvell left Warrington Wolves just last autumn, he could not have imagined in his wildest dreams returning there tonight playing for his third different club since.
It is fair to say a lot has happened – or not, when it comes to actually getting on the field – to the veteran prop in the interim.
A move to Bradford Bulls never really sat well and, after just one pre-season friendly appearance and with financial problems hitting Odsal once more, Carvell switched to Hull FC in February much to the ire of his employers.
Life at the club in which he had initially made his name was not easy either, though, and – struggling for form and fitness – he featured just seven times before joining Castleford Tigers on loan at the end of June.
The ex-England player has, after some initial teething problems, at last found his feet with the Wheldon Roaders, fully taking his chance in Sunday’s epic Challenge Cup semi-final win over Widnes Vikings.
Now Carvell, 33, is hoping a solid performance tonight, on his first visit back to Halliwell Jones Stadium, will cement his place in Daryl Powell’s squad for next Saturday’s Wembley battle with his first club Leeds Rhinos.
“I’ve just been really lucky how it’s fallen really,” he said.
“This season has been a bit of a shambles for me – Bradford then Hull where I’ve not really enjoyed it at either – but I’ve come to Cas where I really have loved it.
“I wasn’t cup-tied, fortunately, and got a chance to play Sunday.
“Whether I’ll be picked to play in the final is a different matter but it is just good to be part of the group that is going to Wembley.
“The club, the fans, the players and even the team of ‘86 have all spoken and are desperate for this Challenge Cup win. I’m just really glad to be a part of it.”
Carvell, who won the trophy three times with Warrington, added: “I’ve not really got settled anywhere and playing wise it’s been pretty disruptive,” he said, having recently turned his loan into a deal until the end of the season. “I’ve had a few niggles with certain things that have happened at certain clubs.
“But I’m under good care now and I’ll have to have a few things fixed which probably should have been seen to but I’m happy and hoping to get (a contract) sorted for next year at Castleford.
“It’s one of those homely clubs. My missus is from Cas, her brothers and her dad are big fans and so it’s an absolute pleasure playing for them even though I do get a bit of stick at home now from her telling me how to play.”
Castleford’s renaissance has been heartening but Warrington’s hopes of a fourth Cup success in six years were ended by Leeds last Saturday.
Carvell, who played 134 games there after leaving Hull in 2008, said: “They’ll be smarting from that loss. They’ve one thing to concentrate on now – the league.
“They’ll be hoping we take our eye off the ball but we’re after that League Leaders’ Shield, too, and want to be in a Grand Final as well as a Challenge Cup final.”
Carvell’s last Wolves game was their Grand Final defeat to Wigan but he is adamant Castleford, two points in front of tonight’s opponents and the same behind leaders St Helens, can reach Super League’s showpiece.
“Everyone’s willing to work for each other here; that goes a long way to achieving things,” he said.
“It’s got a very similar feel to the 2005 Hull Cup-winning team I was fortunate enough to play in.
“There’s no real superstars.”