Written by Callum Walker
Before round one of the new Super League season, London Broncos had been tipped by every man and his dog to be relegated. Wakefield Trinity were the first visitors to Ealing’s Trailfinders Sports Ground – where London have played their home games since 2016 – with the Yorkshire side’s fans in high spirits.
After all, Wakefield had finished fifth in the 2018 Super League and had recruited well in the off-season, with Danny Brough, Craig Kopczak, George King and Ben Reynolds all joining the club.
Over 800 Trinity fans had made their way down south for the game, the majority of them confident – perhaps a bit overconfident – that their side would brush past the promoted London with ease.
A 12-0 lead inside ten minutes seemed to confirm the fans’ optimism, yet things turned sour as the Broncos turned the screw to go into half-time 26-18 up. A Kyle Wood effort shortly after the break brought Trinity to within two points, yet the home side ramped up the pressure, eventually running out 42-24 winners.
Whilst Wakefield were left licking their wounds, London were in dreamland; their first game back in Super League since 2014 – when they finished bottom with just one win – and they had trounced a side that many had tipped to finish in the top half of the league. But, this was no fluke; a team built on hard work and determination, the Broncos are not in the top flight to become whipping boys, they are here to do some damage.
London used to be a side that relied heavily on overseas imports – many of them on high salaries – a strategy which head coach Danny Ward has sought to change. Ward, an ex-Leeds Rhinos and Harlequins RL prop, has focused on local and lower-league talent with the two-try hero from that opening game, Eddie Battye, originally a buffalo farmer from Sheffield.
Battye, being shown to demolish a pre-packed sandwich in the club’s social media gif when he scores, epitomises the belief and togetherness running through the Broncos’ squad. The barnstorming forward was one of 12 London players from their promotion campaign that Ward kept his faith in for the opening game of the season. And, boy did Ward and London reap the rewards.
Though still a long way to go in the season, London have already seemingly ignored the script set for 2019; with the likes of Battye leading from the front, who’s to say they won’t go further and tear it up completely?