The Indian summer gave way to an Autumn chill, but it was one of the nicest days out in the Rugby League calendar, what is now called the Co-operative Championship Finals Day, the grand finals for the lower leagues. Three matches for the price of one is a good deal, though beyond the interest or attention span of many fans who just come to see their own club and use the other games to get pissed. Despite the vast amount of drink, it is an amiable, celebratory event and this time they produced dramatic games.
The crowd was up this year, but it wasn't the sell-out event that it was when promotion to Super League was on offer for the winners of the Championship. Mind you, though I still don't like it, there might be something to be said for a lack of automatic promotion this time round. The final between Halifax and Barrow was a compelling, close match. It marked the revival of two grand old clubs. Barrow's victory was impressive, coming the season after they were promoted from league one, and the club are ambitious. Are they ready for Super League though? I have my doubts, not that unreadiness deterred the RFL giving Celtic Crusaders a place last season.
My highlights of the day were: observing the vast capacity for alcohol of the average Halifax fan; seeing two victorious Bramley players, still in their kit, standing outside the stadium entrance having a fag after their victory as smoking is banned inside; and, finally, the barnstorming late try by the magnificently named Oldham forward, Wayne Kerr (what were his parents thinking?).