‘We’ve taken fans for granted over the years... we will not again’

CASTLEFORD Tigers head coach Daryl Powell speaks for everyone in the sport when he says rugby league will never “take fans for granted again”.

The West Yorkshire club is one of seven who tonight finally manage to welcome supporters back into their stadiums for the first time in 14 months.

With government restrictions being lifted after more than a year of the coronavirus pandemic blighting the sport, Powell agreed it is the moment so many people have been waiting for.

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Although the loss of fans at grounds across the country has had an obvious financial impact on clubs, he said it is so much more than that.

Fans will make a welcome return to live sporting events from today. Picture: SWPix.com

Ahead of welcoming 3,600 supporters to Wheldon Road for this evening’s Super League game with Hull KR, Powell said: “It will be fantastic seeing people in a stadium again.

“It’s been not quite soul-destroying [the last 14 months] but it hasn’t been great.

“There’s not a lot of soul about stadiums without people in and we will get the soul back and the actual feel of the game and the noise.

“I know fans will be super-excited and players and coaches are as well.

“It seems like you just can’t remember fans being in; it has been that long.

“I think we’ve taken fans for granted over the years because they’ve always been there.

“Certainly, I don’t think anybody will do that again.”

Fans will also return for games at Hull FC, Warrington Wolves, Leigh Centurions and St Helens in Super League while Featherstone Rovers and Swinton Lions are Championship clubs who open their doors once more.

Powell added “I am so relieved. It’s great now – you are driving around and seeing people having a beer and just getting together again.

“Outside, that’s awesome, but from Monday we are inside again.

“For the country, for people, for society, for people who have really struggled, it is a blessed relief.

“I hope and pray it stays as it is and the vaccination programme continues to do such a wonderful job.”

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