Batley Bulldogs’ coach John Kear believes the club can emulate Leigh Centurions and one day reach Super League.
He takes charge for the penultimate time today when they head to their Championship rivals who have been promoted to the top flight following a brilliant Qualifiers campaign.
Kear won Championship Coach of the Year this week following his own exploits with Batley, taking them to third despite working on a budget dwarfed by many of their opponents.
After five years at the helm, he will take up a director of football role with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats once the campaign is over and believes he is leaving them in position to build further.
“There’s loads of things I’ll miss about Batley,” said Kear. “It’s the heart of the club – it’s such a big heart – and always over-achieved
“But I hope it continues to grow, continues to develop and hopefully we can be in the top-four regularly and ultimately get in the Super League.
“Leigh have given us the template so let’s hope Batley can do it eventually. I genuinely believe that is possible. What they have to do is invest in quality players, consolidate, consolidate and then evolve and develop further.”
Batley famously beat Leigh on the opening day of the season, a setback their coach Neil Jukes claimed subsequently helped drive them on to this glory now.
“It would be nice to do that again,” admitted Kear, although Leigh are 18 games unbeaten.
“But that lift it gave Leigh – a kick up the backside perhaps – what it also did for us was inspire confidence. The players grew.”
On his award, voted for by fellow coaches, the 61-year-old said: “It’s a tribute to the board of directors, coaching staff and especially the players but also my missus.
“She’s put up with a lot for however many years. It is very, very special to receive this.”