Aston: Eagles ready for new chapter
Coach and chief executive Mark Aston spoke of his optimism for Sheffield Eagles after making history on the day they were made homeless.
Aston's Eagles became the first Championship club to retain the title courtesy of a 19-12 victory over Batley in the Grand Final at Leigh, just as the gates of the Don Valley Stadium - their home for the last 23 years - closed for the last time.
Aston is hoping the club will be allowed to return to the Owlerton Stadium - a venue for greyhounds and speedway - for 2014 while plans continue for a new purpose-built rugby stadium on the Don Valley site.
"The main thing is we stay in Sheffield and we're working with the council to get a facility," said Aston, who re-formed the club 13 years ago following the ill-fated Super League merger with Huddersfield.
"We're going to have state-of-the-art training facilities at Sheffield Hallam University but what we need is somewhere to call home for the next couple of years and then hopefully the dream of the new stadium.
"It's sad that Don Valley has been closed on the day we make history but another chapter will open."
Aston was at the centre of Sheffield's greatest day, winning the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in their famous triumph over Wigan in the 1998 Challenge Cup final at Wembley.
That success came under coach John Kear, and on Sunday he got the better of his old mentor by masterminding a remarkable comeback.
Batley led 12-0 after dominating the first half but the Eagles responded to their coach's interval pep talk to turn the final on its head.
A 40-20 kick from man of the match Dominic Brambani kick-started Sheffield, who scored four tries in 15 minutes.
Winger Scott Turner scored two of Sheffield's four tries and Papua New Guinea centre Menzie Yere grabbed his 46th of the season as the Eagles ran in 19 unanswered points.
"Obviously we weren't great in the first 40 minutes and Batley were," Aston said.
"We were a little bit dumb - we didn't get to the end of our sets and build pressure - but we got to half-time and had a few choice words.
"The 40-20 from Dom was the turning point. We got some momentum and we have players who can score.
"There was no panic because we were still only two tries away and we always knew that, if we put pressure on, they could crack.
"Credit goes to the guys because that was our 38th game of the year - the only two games we missed out on were the semi-finals and final of the Challenge Cup - and it still baffles me why we didn't get club of year.
"That was a bit of motivation for these guys today."
Batley winger Jonny Campbell had scored the game's first try and scrum-half Gareth Moore kicked three goals on the 100th appearance of his career to give his side a deserved 12-0 lead.
"I thought we played 40 minutes of perfect cup-final football but for some reason - whether it was a lack of experience or whether we couldn't quite believe we were on the verge of something so good - we went away from it," Kear said.
Batley's first Grand Final marked the end of an era with at least members of their team having played their last games for the club.
Danny Maun is retiring, Jason Walton and Greg Johnson have been signed by Super League club Salford and Gareth Moore, Paul Mennell, George Flanagan and Liam Walmsley are moving on to other Championship clubs.
Kear added: "They will learn - they say you have to lose one to win one - and it would be nice if we could stay together but we're losing a lot of players."