Dad would be ‘over the moon’, says Fulton as Castleford Tigers celebrate

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OVER the din of the very fitting A Kind of Magic blaring out, it is hard to even hear Castleford Tigers chairman Ian Fulton in the joyous aftermath of arguably the club’s most famous night.

However, stood on the Wheldon Road pitch as their players, staff and families celebrate an historic League Leaders’ Shield success on Thursday, a beaming smile betrays his true thoughts.

Chairman Ian Fulton hugs Jake Webster.

Chairman Ian Fulton hugs Jake Webster.

Fulton knows fully not only what the victory – a first time finishing top since it was founded in 1926 – means to the club but the whole town, a good proportion of whose 40,000 population was actually there to witness the jubilant scenes after the 45-20 win over Wakefield Trinity.

His benevolent father Jack, the founder of the frozen foods empire Fulton Foods, was, of course, chairman of the club for decades, bankrolling them at so many times of need before his death at the age of 83 just two years ago.

Indeed, there was an emotional moment during Thursday’s game where his name rung out around the creaking old stadium, ecstatic fans in the capacity 11,235 crowd reverently chanting “There’s only one Jack Fulton” .

“It was about five minutes before the end and when Jake (Webster) scored his last try,” Ian recounted to The Yorkshire Post.

“To be honest, I nearly burst into tears sat up in the stand when they started singing that.

“I don’t know if I could go down there (the Wheldon Road end) now because it just felt too emotional.

“I don’t know where we start with it all, really. It’s been 91 years and we’d never won it (League Leaders) so when you walk around here it just means so much to all these people.

“Maybe that’s why we all do 
it as it means so much to everybody.

“We’ve all followed Cas for a lot of years and these moments don’t come along very often. We’ve never won a Championship or a League Leaders’ Shield. I can’t put it into words.”

That Daryl Powell’s side surged to the summit this season with such flair and panache makes it an even greater tale especially given barely four years ago they had to sell Man of Steel Daryl Clark to Warrington Wolves to avoid going into administration.

Asked what he thought the silverware would have meant to his dad, who he succeeded as chairman, Fulton added: “He’d be over the moon. Absolutely over the moon.

“It meant so much to my dad. Not just me but the whole family and all of this place. For him, he’d be thinking… ‘Well, we’ve got there eventually.’

“He always wanted success for Castleford. Both my parents did.

“It is a shame that we’ve achieved this when they are both not here but for everyone else that dream has come true.

“We’ve had some really rough times as everyone knows but after two or three years this season makes it all worthwhile.

“It makes 30 years of being involved all worth it. Going on to win the Grand Final would be the icing on the cake. And I think we’ll do it. I do.”

As they seek a maiden Grand Final appearance, Castleford’s home semi-final date against whoever finishes fourth is set for Thursday September 28 with the other tie 24 hours later.

Furthermore, Tigers chief executive Steve Gill has confirmed they will take up their place in the 2018 World Club Series, a prize that arrived with a £100,000 cheque for finishing top.

When Castleford went close to lifting the League Leaders’ Shield in 2014 they, and 2013 winners Huddersfield, both made it clear they would not be in a position to post the £170,000 bond required to act as hosts and therefore would not participate in the World Club Challenge.

Now the bond, brought in to cover the travelling costs of the visiting Australians, has gone up to nearly £200,000 but such is Castleford’s progress on and off the field, Gill says they are now relishing hosting a top NRL club.

He said: “We want it down here at the Jungle in front of our fans. If we can sell it out, we’ll make a profit. We’ve got plenty of time to do that. I’d imagine everybody would want to be part of that.

“It’s something that I could not allow not to happen to this club.

“We weren’t financially able to do it three years ago. Our groundswell of support wasn’t as good as it is now. Our players want to be in it and our fans want to be part of it. It will be a great night.”

Castleford are understood to have signed former Huddersfield second-row Joe Wardle from Newcastle Knights for 2018.