Written by Callum Walker
Photo by Photo SW Pix
There was a crowd of just over 5,300 at Castleford’s home game with Warrington in round 14 of Super League. That’s nearly 4,000 spectators less than their previous home game against local rivals Wakefield. It seems Tigers fans are voting with their feet after seven losses in ten games sees them drop to seventh in the table.
And with Wigan rumoured to be chasing powerhouse prop Mitch Clark, Castleford fans are in uproar at the possibility of losing one of their most in-form forwards.
Clark had a sensational end to 2018 and has impressed hugely in recent weeks after returning from injury against Wigan in April. What Castleford have been lacking in the past few years, Clark offers. He is an imposing, powerful forward that gets the crowd excited when he enters the field.
The Tigers are currently struggling in the front row and will do in the future. Grant Millington, Junior Moors and Matt Cook are all 32 years of age – they will hardly be around forever. Liam Watts is 28, new signing Daniel Smith is 26 and Will Maher is 23 – though the Cumbrian can hardly be classed as a frontrunner for a starting berth when the Tigers have a full side.
Clark, meanwhile, is 26 and heading towards the prime of his career. Every Castleford fan wants Clark to stay at the Jungle, yet, for some reason, the club failed to act before the May deadline – that is, the May 1 deadline before which clubs are not allowed to talk to players. As such, Wigan have been “alerted” by his availability.
Just a week ago Clark was interviewed and declared his hope to win a new contract with the Tigers. Talks were ongoing he said, but it’s never good when a club like Wigan comes in for a player. Though failing to pull up any trees in Super League so far in 2019, the Warriors are a side hellbent on silverware and are likely to be able to offer more money.
Castleford have perhaps become a victim of their own success in 2017. Too many average players are on inflated wages, whilst the club’s recruitment resembles panic with knee-jerk reaction signings that fail to improve on their squad or ones that should have been made months ago.
The disappointment towards the club was there to see against Warrington. Last Friday night’s attendance at the Jungle marked the worst home crowd since Castleford’s defeat to St Helens in the Challenge Cup almost a year ago.
If Mitch Clark is allowed to leave, then more fans are certain to stay away.