Wakefield Trinity's long-suffering fans have reasons to dream at start of new era - James O'Brien comment

Relegated clubs tend to put on a brave face as they step into the unknown but there is genuine excitement and positivity at Wakefield Trinity at the start of a new era under Matt Ellis.

The millionaire owner of DIY Kitchens has wasted no time in putting his stamp on the club, replacing Mark Applegarth with experienced head coach Daryl Powell before the ink had even dried on his takeover.

Since introducing himself to the supporters last month after agreeing a deal to purchase Trinity, Ellis has made no attempt to manage expectations.

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In an assertive first statement, he vowed to maintain a full-time playing squad in the Championship with the ultimate objective of becoming a top-six Super League club.

Powell was quickly identified as the man to spearhead Wakefield's promotion bid on the field as Ellis gets to work on driving the rest of the club towards his eventual goal of category A status under IMG's new grading system.

Trinity will be among the category B clubs when the illustrative grades are made public on Wednesday morning but they now have the ambition and spending power to target a seat at the top table.

While the likes of St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos may appear out of reach across the five grading pillars – performance, stadium, finance, community and fandom – it will not stop Ellis trying to catch them.

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There will naturally be some disappointment that the new and improved Belle Vue with a state-of-the-art East Stand will host Championship rugby next season but Wakefield's relegation could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Daryl Powell has taken charge at Belle Vue. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)Daryl Powell has taken charge at Belle Vue. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)
Daryl Powell has taken charge at Belle Vue. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)

Trinity have the chance to reset, rebuild and create a winning culture under Powell, a coach who transformed the fortunes of near neighbours Featherstone Rovers and Castleford Tigers.

The 58-year-old has a point to prove after failing to make his mark at Warrington Wolves and is already making the right noises.

There was a freshness to Powell in his first interview with the club and palpable excitement about the challenge he has taken on.

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As he put it himself, he has a blank canvas and the backing of an ambitious owner with a genuine affection for Wakefield.

Matt Ellis has said all the right things since taking the reins. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)Matt Ellis has said all the right things since taking the reins. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)
Matt Ellis has said all the right things since taking the reins. (Photo: Wakefield Trinity)

Ellis' biggest challenge will be separating the fan in him from the man tasked with making important decisions for the club's long-term future.

He is treating Trinity's relegation as an adventure, which is all he can do after inheriting a club already consigned to the Championship.

Operating on a modest budget, Wakefield pushed their luck one too many times and eventually ran out of rope after failing to arm Applegarth with the tools to keep the club in Super League.

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Applegarth paid the price with his job but the way he carried himself in challenging circumstances would not have gone unnoticed in rugby league circles.

The 38-year-old will come again and so too will Wakefield, a club starved of success since the 1960s.

Trinity have a long road in front of them but only have to look at Leigh Leopards to see what is possible when a club aim high.

That Wakefield fans can dare to dream after years of suffering is a positive first step.

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