Making the grade

Tuesday saw the latest Squadbuilder meeting and it was good to see more than normal turn out to enjoy the excellent entertainment on offer. Guests this month were loyal prop Mark Hilton, Academy Coach Dave Elliott and club representative Neil Dowson.

All Warrington fans will surely agree that Mark Hilton has earned his forthcoming Testimonial year, and Mark was on hand to introduce a few of the planned events. The Testimonial year kicks off with a Mixed Dinner on Wendesday 9 July at Tetley Walker Club with other events planned for througout the year. “Beast” then was happy to answer all questions from the floor openly and honestly, and provided some interesting food for thought. When asked if the trip to Widnes would be “another Wakefield”, Mark assured everyone that Cull has got the squad prepared – “I don’t think Paul likes Widnes very much.” Also, his views on the last 5 minutes of the Bradford match were very interesting, and certainly reflected that there is no complacency in the camp.

Academy coach Dave Elliott joined Mark, and gave some insight in the Junior Academy. He felt the Junior Academy were doing very well, and whilst the team had not met the grading cut, they are a young side to the extent that all but two of the Under 18s are still eligible next season. Also, Warrington has been one of only six clubs selected by the RFL for an Under 16s Academy, based on strict application criteria which included running a scholarship scheme. Dave also revealed to members who he felt was the hottest junior prospect at the club for some considerable time. Both Dave and Mark fielded all questions, with Mark finally admitting that he can remember every single one of the tries he’s scored for Warrington (all four of them).

Neil Dowson then gave a presentation on the move from Wilderspool to the new stadium, including commemorative souvenirs to mark the “End of an Era” (800 special shirts were ordered). The meeting was invited to vote on the proposed shirt designs for 2004, and whilst the choice of home shirt was a landslide, the choice of away design was a closer vote. The dates for the early Challenge Cup rounds are still unclear, thus affecting the timing of the transfer of ground.

The next Squadbuilder meeting takes place on Tuesday 15 July, but before this is a Supporters Trust Race Night on Saturday 5 July. One big event in the future is that the October Squadbuilder meeting will take place in the new stadium and include a tour of it, which is surely incentive enough to join Squadbuilder and take an active interest in the club whilst helping develop young players at the same time.