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Year in review 2012: Salford City Reds – New stadium, new coach but financial worries make miserable year

By Colin Henrys

In a year that started with so much promise, there were more lows than highs for Salford City Reds, with the loss of their best players and a bleak, undecided future ahead of them in 2013.

January

The new year started with a brand new home for the Reds following their move to the Salford City Stadium in Barton from The Willows, and a new coach in the form of Phil Veivers.

Any optimism around the move was dented by a heavy 38-12 friendly defeat to Leigh Centurions in their first appearance at their new home, however.

A dominant 46-16 win against Halifax a week later, and a narrow 16-10 defeat in their final pre-season friendly against Wigan Warriors gave Veivers’ hope of improving on their 11th place finish in 2011 though.

Alongside the new coach, the Reds added no less than eight new signings to their ranks including Shannan McPherson and Joel Moon joining from NRL sides South Sydney and New Zealand Warriors respectively.

Also added were Wakefield Trinity Wildcats trio Ben Gledhill, Stuart Howarth and Josh Veivers (Veivers’ son), Jordan James from Crusaders and Matty Ashurst of St Helens.

February

A performance by X-Factor singer Amelia Lily and a farewell appearance from old mascot Ignito, who ‘returned to his home planet’ after the match marked the Reds’ Super League bow in their new home.

On the pitch however, Salford kicked off their Super League XVII season with a 24-10 defeat to Castleford Tigers in wintery conditions.

Scrum-half Matty Smith took the honour of scoring the first Super League try in the Salford City Stadium, but the result left Phil Veivers with plenty to work on. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/06022269-salford-city-reds-beaten-first-match-their-new-stadium

Salford’s first away game also saw them at a new ground – St Helens’ Langtree Park – but unlike the Reds, the Saints opened their new home with a huge 38-10 win, despite Jodie Broughton opening the scoring. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/13022346-saints-new-stadium-heaven-salford-city-reds-come-short

The Reds finally got off the mark for the season after a dominant first-half display saw them to a 38-18 win at Widnes Vikings in round three.

A dramatic first Super League win at Salford City Stadium closed the month, with Daniel Holdsworth kicking a last minute penalty to secure a 24-22 win against Hull FC. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/27022517-salford-city-reds-last-minute-thriller-against-hull-fc-secures-first-home-win

March

Joel Moon’s long-awaited debut for the Reds inspired them to a third straight victory, as they stormed to a 44-0 lead against London Broncos, before two late tries meant Salford settled for a 44-12 victory. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/05032595-salford-city-reds-celebrate-thrid-successive-win-they-beat-london-broncos-44-12

The win placed the Reds fifth in the table, but their unbeaten run came to a sudden halt as Catalans Dragons ran in eight tries to beat Salford 40-18 in the South of France. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/12032671-salford-city-reds-winning-streak-goes-smoke-catalan-dragons-win-40-18

Coach Phil Veivers vented his fury the following week, as Salford crashed to a 56-16 defeat to newly-crowned World Champions Leeds Rhinos.

The Reds, playing in front of a record 6,891 crowd at Salford City Stadium were trailing 32-4 at the break, and Veivers said his ‘busted outfit’ were simply no match for Leeds. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/19032747-salford-city-reds-suffer-crushing-defeat-under-foot-leeds-rhinos-losing-56-16

Salford bounced back with a 38-18 win at Bradford Bulls however http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/27032834-salford-city-reds-trample-bradford-bulls-underfoot-win-38-18 , but were unable to close the month with a win, suffering a 40-20 reverse at home to Wigan Warriors.

April

Two defeats over the Easter weekend led to questions being raised over the Reds discipline, with Phil Veivers vowing to speak to referees to address the issue.

“If I was a fan watching that I’d be sticking needles in my eyes. But, as a coach, it was even worse,” he said after a heavy 36-10 Good Friday defeat to table-topping Huddersfield Giants. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/07042969-huddersfield-giants-return-super-league-summit-they-prove-too-strong-salford-city-r

His mood was not lightened three days later, as Salford threw away a four-point lead with 12 minutes remaining as they went down 18-10 to Hull Kingston Rovers. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/10042974-salford-city-reds-throw-away-late-lead-and-lose-hull-kr

As the league took a break for the fourth round of Challenge Cup fixtures, the Reds bounced back to form with a 58-18 win at Championship One side Whitehaven.

Stand-off Marc Sneyd, 21, successfully converted nine of the ten tries Salford ran in – two of which he grabbed himself. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/16043040-salford-city-reds-demolish-whitehaven-challenge-cup-starman-sneyd-shines

Normal service was resumed the following week however, as Salford went down 26-22 to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats to slump to tenth in the Super League table. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/23043114-fourth-consecutive-super-league-defeat-salford-city-reds-wakefield-trinity-wildcats

A much-improved performance against Leeds Rhinos could not prevent the Reds being knocked out of the Challenge Cup in the fifth round either, after a 16-10 defeat to the eventual runners-up. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/30043205-leeds-rhinos-charge-challenge-cup-salford-city-reds-narrowly-lose-out

Away from the pitch, rugby union outfit Sale Sharks confirmed they would be ground-sharing at Salford City Stadium from the 2012-13 season.

May

A fifth straight league defeat – a 24-20 reverse against an understrength Warrington Wolves side – dented the Reds play-off hopes further. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/08053411-warrington-wolves-hang-beat-dogged-salford-city-reds-who-slump-fifth-straight-leagu

After a week off, the Reds finally arrested their slide with a 20-20 draw at home to Bradford Bulls thanks to Jodie Broughton’s late try. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/19053594-salford-city-reds-rally-claim-last-gasp-point-draw-against-bradford-bulls

With all 14 Super League teams decamping to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium for the Magic Weekend the following week, Salford recorded their first Super League win for over two months beating Huddersfield Giants 38-34.

Having seen his side trailing with just five minutes to go in searing heat, Phil Veivers described the win as ‘massive’ for the Reds http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/28053683-magic-weekend-win-over-huddersfield-giants-massive-season-says-salford-city-reds-co

June

Victory at the Etihad proved to be a mini-catalyst for the Reds as they defeated high-flying Catalans Dragons 34-30 on 1 June, extending their unbeaten run to three games.

Despite leading 30-22 with seven minutes remaining at Castleford Tigers the following week, the run came to an end as two late tries consigned the Reds to a 34-30 defeat. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/11063877-castleford-tigers-34-30-salford-city-reds-two-last-gasp-tries-condemn-salford-first

Off the pitch, Jordan James had to apologise after describing Euro 2012 footballers as ‘poofs’ and ‘faggots’ in a post on Twitter. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/15063954-poofs-and-faggots-salford-city-reds-player-apologises-homophobic-twitter-comments-a

A 32-10 home defeat to a Jonny Lomax-inspired St Helens side on 22 June left the Reds six points adrift of the play-off places. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/25064101-st-helens-31-10-salford-city-reds-saints-go-marching-devils-fail-convert-first-half

June ended with a crushing 44-24 defeat of high-flying Warrington Wolves however, as the Reds ran in nine tries. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/02074212-nine-try-salford-city-reds-stun-warrington-wolves-high-flyers-are-put-sword

July

Away from Salford City Stadium, Reds’ stars Joel Moon, Daniel Holdsworth and Matty Smith lined up in the International Origin series’ second game in Huddersfield.

Smith, on his England debut, was unable to prevent the Exiles sealing a win to level the series and retain the trophy however as Holdsworth was named man of the match. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/05074283-man-match-salford-city-reds%E2%80%99-daniel-holdsworth-exiles-crush-england-international-o

Highly-rated Smith did not play for Salford again though after Wigan Warriors snapped up the half-back to solve an injury crisis. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/06074296-breaking-news-wigan-warriors-solve-halfback-problem-signing-salford-city-reds-matty

The transfer, which came just days after the first instalment of a loan from Salford City Council was due to be repaid, provided an early indication of the financial troubles on their way.

On the pitch however, the Reds started life without their star player with a win at Hull Kingston Rovers. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/09074334-salford-city-reds-start-life-without-matty-smith-crucial-win-race-playoffs

Consecutive defeats at home to Widnes Vikings (46-8) and at Hull FC (34-26) dealt a huge blow to their play-off ambitions though, despite rivals Bradford Bulls suffering a points deduction for entering administration.

August

The Reds slim hopes of the play-offs were finally ended as they lost all four matches played in August.

A 40-28 defeat in the capital to London Broncos started the slide, and this was followed by a 30-20 defeat to Huddersfield Giants in the Reds’ final game at Salford City Stadium of the season.

Consecutive away defeats at Wigan Warriors (38-6) and Leeds Rhinos (46-12) took the Reds’ points conceded tally beyond 800 too – the fourth worst in the league.

There was better news off the pitch however as former Salford stars Gus Risman, Alex Murphy and Martin Offiah were among five players chosen to be immortalised by a statue outside Wembley Stadium.

September

Salford’s season ended with a home game, but due to television demands causing a clash with Sale Sharks debut at Salford City Stadium, he fixture with Wakefield Trinity Wildcats was moved to Leigh Sports Village.

Chairman John Wilkinson apologised to fans in his programme notes, as just 2,380 turned up to watch the Reds’ season end with a 42-34 defeat.

The result means the club finish in 11th place for the second consecutive season.

He also allayed fears surrounding the Reds’ financial situation – admitting the club were seeking investment but confidently stating the club were on track to come back stronger.

Jodie Broughton was voted Player of the Year at the club’s awards dinner, with Luke Patten (Players’ Player of the Year) and Vinnie Anderson (Supporters’ Player of the Year) also receiving awards.

October

Further indications of the club’s perilous financial situation became apparent as Salford were hit by a winding up order http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/18106128-salford-city-reds-future-hangs-balance-club-issued-winding-petition

Club sponsors and management consultants Steuer Gregsson Limited presented the order, which was heard on 29 October.

However, the petition was withdrawn after the matter was settled between the two parties prior to the court hearing.

A club statement also reiterated their desire to stay in Salford, despite an average attendance of 5,500 for the 2012 season – 2,500 below the break-even target set when moving grounds.

November

Salford’s players returned to training and the Salford City Stadium hosted its first international – England’s crushing 48-4 defeat of France in the tri-nations final.

The Reds also confirmed the capture of former St Helens forward Andrew Dixon on a three-year deal.

Financial issues continued to dominate the headlines however, with the Reds’ board releasing a statement to reassure fans investment issues would be solved.

It read: “Every effort is being made to bring the complex investment talks to a quick and favourable conclusion for all parties going forward and to enable the club to launch the new season effectively.”

December

The club’s future now hangs in the balance after Salford City Council rejected a £750,000 rescue plan, leaving them with a short-term cash flow.

Chairman John Wilkinson admitted in a statement the board had expected the negotiations to end with a positive outcome but reiterated his belief the club would find investment.

Forever Red, the club’s Supporters’ Trust blamed the rugby league franchise system for the club’s current plight.

Trust chairman Shirley Bradshaw added she was ‘absolutely gutted’ the council were unable to agree to the rescue plan. http://mancunianmatters.co.uk/content/14127364-franchise-system-blame-salford-city-reds%E2%80%99-financial-plight-say-fans-clubs-future-ha

A meeting between Mr Wilkinson and Salford fans confirmed the club now needs £600,000 to stay afloat for the coming season, due to kick off on February 1.

Image courtesy of Super League TV, via YouTube, with thanks.

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