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SPIRIT OF '55: Grand Final preview - prove you are the best Wire!
11:14am Tuesday 1st October 2013 in Wolves news
FINALLY the Wire and Wigan are going to meet in a major final, for the first time since the Challenge Cup in 1990.
In terms of league position they have been the best two teams of the last four years, but like two top heavyweight boxers ducking each other they have been picking up their titles by beating other teams.
Often both getting to semi-finals in that time but at least one of us has managed to lose and so the ‘Dream Final’ hasn’t occurred until now.
Back in 1990 with Wigan close to the peak of their most glorious spell it was barely a fair contest, with Wigan as the only full time professional club in the land at the time, constantly gathering the best players from all the other clubs and playing ‘fantasy rugby league’ for real before the game even existed.
Now though there are no such excuses for Wire, two teams will appear at Old Trafford with equal opportunity to win the ultimate prize.
The two matches between the teams in the league campaign do nothing at all to dampen the enthusiasm for the Grand Final, first came the titanic struggle at Wigan all the way back in week two that ended in a 17-17 draw when Briers bounced a late drop goal in off a post. In round 19 we had the match of the season in my opinion, an absolute classic that turned into Wire’s best come from behind victory in recent memory as they scored late to conjure up a 22-12 win.
Wire didn’t get off to the greatest of starts this season, winning just six of the first eleven games.
This resulted in many people believing the team was now too old, that last year was their one big chance of winning a Grand Final and that they should have made a few signings in the off season.
Gradually Wire started to improve and find the consistency they were looking for, winning fourteen of their last sixteen league games. For a few games towards the end it looked like they might pinch the league leaders shield, but Huddersfield finished equally strongly to secure that particular title.
So far the play-offs have gone about as well as a team could hope for, two games at home, both won and seventy points scored in total. Huddersfield kept the game close but you would expect that in a semi-final.
Winning Super League is not only about how many games you win it’s about winning the right ones, nobody really cares how many you win if you don’t win the last one.
The best way of going about producing your optimum performance when it matters is still somewhat of a mystery so Rugby League teams are left guessing as to what to do to increase their chances of winning the Championship.
Having virtually a full squad to pick from at this stage of the season is one thing that Tony Smith will be delighted with, also having such a big squad has allowed him to use those resources to keep players relatively fresh. Fourteen horses started the race back in February, only two jockeys are still aboard and they come to the last fence together, Tony Smith will be hoping that his horse has one more burst of energy for a devastating sprint for the line.
With the play-offs deciding the Champions, Wire are never going to be able to end their wait to be champions since 1955 by winning the title under the radar by being six points clear with two games to go. They are going have to end the wait by beating a top side in the biggest game of the season in front of seventy thousand people at one of the most famous stadiums in the world and in front of the biggest television audience of the Super League year.
To add to the drama of the occasion this time we are playing one of our biggest, most traditional local rivals, the club that has won more titles than any other, a club that has won 19 titles compared to our three, eleven of those coming in the time we have been waiting for our fourth. The club that has made us feel the most inferior during our title drought years.
For one glorious night it is time to go a little way to redressing the balance between the two clubs. As Muhammad Ali would say ‘We’re going to get it on, because we don’t get along!’
Last year we reached our first Championship Final since 1961 and that in itself was a momentous occasion and achievement. This time there can be no feelings at all of merely being happy to be there, after working so hard to earn your place at the biggest show in the game now it’s time to be the star of that show.
This is what all the hard work is for, all the players in the twelve other teams in Super League would swap places with Wire players in a heartbeat as would most of the fans, these are the great moments players will be asked about and will talk about for the rest of their life.
There’s no need to hold anything back anymore, this is the crescendo you have been building towards all season, time to leave it all out on the pitch and not die wondering.
Your incredible team spirit and desire has got you this far, now you have to trust in yourselves one more time.
Remember the hell of that loss to Hull in the cup semi-final, and that if you really want to go to heaven you have to be prepared to die to get there. You are the best team in the league, all you have to do now is prove it.
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