Alan Hardisty: Great for ex-players to be involved with town buzzing again

Former Castleford and Leeds rugby league legend Alan Hardisty.
Former Castleford and Leeds rugby league legend Alan Hardisty.
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IT’S nice to walk around town and hear people talking about how well Castleford are playing once more – and not telling us to get our boots out again.

We’ve had that for far too long really. I didn’t like it as it showed we’d not been doing very well but now it’s all lovely and everyone’s smiling in Cas’.

The town is buzzing again and everyone is looking forward to this Challenge Cup semi-final with Widnes.

It’d be great to see them win on Sunday and then go on and do so at Wembley, too.

We did it in ’69 and ’70 and there’s no reason why this side can’t either.

The club’s form has been a big surprise as the last two seasons we knew we were struggling and getting beaten by 40 points nearly every week.

The turnaround has just been unbelievable and what Daryl (Powell) and his coaching staff have done here is something I’ve never seen anywhere in any sport. It’s great that he’s invited us past-players down, too. We had a chat pre-season with the squad which seems to have done its job.

It was very positive and a new thing for me as obviously the last two years hadn’t been very good – Ian Millward was his own man – but Daryl brought the ex-players into the situation a little bit.

We like that. We don’t want to be demanding they play like the old days – we try not to do that – but if he wants support we’re glad to come down and do it.

It’s good for the club and us ex-players as well. They enjoy coming to matches and a lot of them had lost the will to do so for one reason or another.

I think they’ve been badly treated in the old days – you were a slave to the game – but now you have to get more involved.

Daryl has allowed us to do that and we’re happy to be here while what we’re watching is brilliant.

The tries we’ve scored – we seem to be able to score from anywhere at any time which is lovely – and we’re winning more or less every week.

We’ve got the family-feeling back from our day. We were all local players and Daryl has brought that back into the club.

The way he did that early season get together down here (Wheldon Road) was very impressive. Wives and family all came along and he put a band on, too, while there was myself, Lee Crooks, Malcolm Reilly and John Joyner, who all had a say on what we thought about rugby league in Castleford.

As for Widnes on Sunday, the first thing we must do is start from the first whistle, which we haven’t in the last two weeks.

I’ve spoken to couple of players and Daryl since and they all realise that. When they’re winning and winning quite easy at times it’s just taken them over a little but it won’t happen this week.

They can’t afford to give Widnes a six or 12-point start but that’s been drummed into them.

Of this current side, there’s some cracking play-makers. Daryl Clark is outstanding isn’t he?

He’s got everything – size, speed and when he comes on the whole game just quickens up.

You can see why Daryl holds him off. I like that. You think he’s left three or four of his best players on the bench and wonder what that’s all about?

At first I didn’t get it. But he holds them off for about half-an-hour making sure the score is tight and then puts on all four together – and it’s always when the game livens up. We look a different team.

It’d be fantastic to see Cas’ play Leeds in the final but we’ll see.

Interview by Dave Craven