BUSINESS was booming again at The Halliwell Jones Stadium in 2010.
The average home Super League attendance lifted by around 1,500 on the back of Wolves winning the Challenge Cup during Tony Smith’s first season in charge.
And those regulars enjoyed some outstanding action as Wolves revelled in their best league campaign of the Super League era to that point, as well as recording back-to-back Challenge Cup successes for the first time in the club’s history.
New boys Ryan Atkins, Richie Myler and David Solomona soon settled in and made their marks, although the latter was unfortunate to have a late try ruled out as eventual champions Wigan won at the stadium for the first time with a 22-20 success in a pulsating round-three encounter played in front of a full house.
Wolves did not lose in front of their home fans again until June 27, when Leeds were 37-30 victors, and had got off to a riproaring start when Chris Riley crossed for five tries in a 58-0 hammering of Harlequins.
Consistency had been the season’s aim and that showed with only four losses in 21 games leading up to that home defeat to Smith’s former club.
By that stage Wolves had booked a cup semi-final date with Catalan Dragons, a fortnight after losing 29-28 in Perpignan against the struggling French side and a week after the customary home heartbreak against St Helens.
But the booming home support turned the semi final at Widnes into a ‘home’ tie as they filled the ground and roared Wolves to a stunning 54-12 victory to book a Wembley return.
A 36-18 home win against Hull sent Warrington to Wembley on a high and the team recorded the club’s biggest ever win in a final, bringing home the silverware again thanks to a 30-6 victory over Leeds Rhinos.
With Wolves challenging for the League Leaders’ Shield in the top three, the double was a distinct possibility.
The season ended in third spot, level on points with St Helens and four behind Wigan, with a 28-12 play-offs loss at Saints giving Wolves a second bite of the cherry at home against Huddersfield Giants on September 18.
That turned out to be the season’s ‘let-down moment’, with a length-of-the-field interception try from centre Leroy Cudjoe – cheered memorably from the sidelines by then Giants coach Nathan Brown – ending Wolves’ Grand Final hopes for another year and exacting revenge for the 2009 cup final defeat.
At the heart of Huddersfield’s victory was their skipper Brett Hodgson, who would be wearing primrose and blue the following year.
A SMALL fire in the West Stand at The Halliwell Jones Stadium forced a 45-minute delay to the Championship Grand Final between Featherstone Rovers and Halifax on September 26, 2010.
More than 1,400 Halifax fans were moved onto the pitch while fire alarms went off.
The blaze started in a cleaner’s cupboard next to a cubicle in the women’s toilets and damage was confined to the contents of the cupboard. John Turner, of Warrington’s blue watch, said: “The toilets were accessible to the general public and it appears that it was lit beneath the cubicle.”
He praised the actions and procedures of the stadium staff.
Halifax won the final 23-22 in golden point extra time.
Warrington Wizards were triumphant in the first of the two curtain-raisers, defeating Huddersfield Underbank Rangers 23-18 in the Conference National Grand Final, while York City Kinights overcame Oldham 25-4 in the Championship One decider.
Briers beats Bevan
LEE Briers passed numerous milestones during the year but did so on the team’s travels.
His 100th Super League try came in a 68-16 win against Salford at Murrayfield on Magic Weekend.
He overtook Brian Bevan’s career points-scoring record with a goal against Crusaders at Wrexham in July and made his 350th appearance for the club in the Challenge Cup semi final against Catalan Dragons.
Record try tally
FOUR losses at home equalled a season’s best for Wolves at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
St Helens remained as the only side yet to have lost to Warrington at the venue, while Wigan Warriors, Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants were the other victors in 2010.
Home tries in 2010
David Solomona 6