Castleford Tigers: Daryl Powell’s legacy is about memories and style - Dave Craven

Like many of his departing players, Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell lingered on the Wheldon Road pitch for long after the final hooter on Thursday night, perhaps knowing the enormity of what was around the corner once he did actually step off it.

Because once he did say his final farewells – public ones, at least – he knew that was it: after eight and a half years at the helm of a club he cherishes so much, game over. The end. Book closed.

Fleetingly, during a manic 80 minutes that perhaps best illustrated the amiable coach’s reign, it had seemed Castleford would stage the most dramatic of comebacks and earn their place in the Super League play-offs.

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Having somehow found themselves 32-0 down against Warrington Wolves, four tries in ten crazy minutes suddenly saw the Tigers just 32-24 behind with their increasingly animated and frenzied fans almost dragging them over the line with every attack.

Unfortunately, not even Powell’s Castleford – who have become renowned as one of the most entertaining sides around – could pull off this trick and defeat meant they finished seventh, just outside the cut-off point.

As he prepares to take over at Warrington next season, some people will look back on Powell’s Castleford reign and say the proud Yorkshireman underachieved, having lost in all three major finals in which they played. But that is utter nonsense. Yes, of course, there will be lingering disappointment that none of those chances were converted, especially the 2017 Super League Grand Final when the stylish Tigers had been far and away the best side in the competition.

However, if you put things into context, it is plain to see just what a positive and invigorating impact Powell had on a club he held so close to his heart.

When he arrived in May 2013, Castleford had not reached a major final – let alone won one – in 21 years. The last of just four Challenge Cup triumphs was as long ago as 1986.

Daryl Powell twice took Castleford Tigers to Wembley (Picture:SWPix.com)

A league championship? Castleford had not featured in a title decider since 1969. The only other time was before the outbreak of World War Two.

They lost both and have still never been crowned champions in their 95 year history.

With that in mind, Powell’s time at Wheldon Road should be remembered as a truly golden period for the club, regardless of missing out in those showpieces, at Old Trafford four years ago plus the Challenge Cup at Wembley in 2014 and again earlier this season.

In 2017, Castleford did lift the League Leaders’ Shield, finishing top for the first time ever.

Daryl Powell waves farewell. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

No one will forget the brilliant manner in which they swept to that success, finishing a record-breaking ten points clear of their nearest challengers and playing a thrilling, free-flowing style that has not been bettered since.

Castleford were in a complete mess when Powell took over from Ian Millward in 2013, not only in danger of another relegation but financial ruin, too. Nevertheless, he quickly began instilling his ethos and confidence, bringing a positive culture and re-engaging them with their community while turning them into regular play-off contenders.

Lee Radford has the chance to take them on to that next level in 2022 and maybe the former Hull FC coach will be able to secure one of those major trophies.

But Powell’s impressive legacy will always remain.

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell (Picture: SWPix.com)
Castleford Tigers Oliver Holmes thanks the fans. ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)