Missing out on Wembley takes the gloss off reaching Challenge Cup final - Gareth Ellis

NEWS that the Betfred Challenge Cup final will be moved to Tottenhan Hotspur Stadium next season has left me with mixed emotions.

Hull's captain Gareth Ellis lifts the Challenge Cup trophy at Wembley in 2016. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Obviously, there’s reasons behind it being switched with the RFL and the BBC keen to see it shifted to earlier in the year.

I was quite surprised initially, though, that they’d not yet got a date and venue booked in; you always expect events like that to be sorted years in advance.

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World Cups and European finals seem to be marked down.

In one sense, it’s losing the traditional element by moving away from Wembley but in another it’s regaining it by being switched back to May.

May is the traditional home for the Challenge Cup final.

I was born on May 3rd 1981 when my dad was down 
there at Wembley watching the final.

Growing up, I’ve had plenty of happy memories watching the final myself in that May slot and it’s good that it is now going back there with the BBC and the RFL keen to do so.

But, on the flip side, it’s not at its spiritual home of Wembley having been moved to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

From a player’s point of view, Wembley is the one: it is the Challenge Cup final.

It’s got all the history, all the tradition and it’s where you want to play when you reach a Challenge Cup final.

That’s nothing against Spurs; their stadium looks unreal and an unbelievable venue to play 
in.

But I always think to myself, what if in 2016 – when we won it with Hull and won at Wembley for the first time in the club’s history – what would have happened if it had not been there…?

Who’s to say things wouldn’t have happened differently afterwards? Wembley means a lot to a lot of people and they do look forward to that experience.

I remember my first Challenge Cup final, when I lost with 
Leeds Rhinos against Hull in Cardiff.

Having grown up with the Challenge Cup final at Wembley – and having gone to quite a few of them as a kid – it just didn’t feel the same being in Wales.

Unfortunately, I do feel some of the gloss will be taken off the Challenge Cup final experience with it being moved for 2022; some of the magic will be missing.

Thankfully, though, it will be back at Wembley in 2023.

Before any of that, of course, we have the derby coming up on Saturday.

Aside from the obvious rivalry this fixture brings, in this instance the game has got a lot of ramifications for both clubs – Hull FC and Hull KR.

The consequences of a win or loss will not decide whether they get in the top-six play-offs or miss out but it will certainly have a big bearing on how the two sides run from hereon in.

It is a massive game: Rovers are playing really well at the moment, illustrated by their second win over Wigan Warriors this season on Friday night.

They are competing with the top teams and winning as well.

We’re in a bit of a rut at Hull, though.

We’ve not managed to get going again after that enforced break we had or rediscover that form we had earlier in the season.

We know we’re not far away and there’s been signs of it

However, the one thing that is still there remaining is effort. That’s not gone. We know that does not improve our win percentage but the lads are still competing hard and we know how big the derby this weekend will be.

Hopefully we can get the result which could help turn our season; there’d certainly be no better place to do it and it will be great to see the derby back with fans in again as well.

As for us on Friday, the trip to France is always a tough game and given Catalans’ form and league position it was always going to be a challenge.

Throw in some Covid disruptions and 30 plus degrees and the boys found it tough.

The effort has never been in question, even during this recent period of losses.

After hanging in for the majority of the game, mainly due to some last-ditch defensive efforts, Catalans proved to just have that extra quality needed in the latter stages to seal the win.

It was great to see Carlos Tuimavave back and also Scott Taylor who will be much better in the coming weeks after 
getting some minutes under his belt.

We’re praying for a positive 
uninterrupted week at training and the possibility of welcoming back some key players for the derby.