About bloody time!
It’s taken them donkey’s years but Kurt Gidley & Ashton Sims make a grand final at last
KURT GIDLEY WAS ONLY 13 when he realised Old Trafford was such a big deal.
Having flown to England with his parents to watch brother Matt play for the Australian Schoolboys, they spent a day visiting the home of Manchester United.
This weekend he’ll return to the Theatre of Dreams – a venue where soccer greats Best, Beckham and Ronaldo cast their legacies – in the hope of guiding Warrington to a maiden grand final triumph.
“It’s one of the most iconic stadiums in the world, and amazing to think I’ll be playing there,” offers the former Knights captain, speaking to RLW in a hotel conference room across the road from Old Trafford.
“Every day a whole heap of people come here to do tours – I remember doing the same with my parents in ’95 when I was a kid.
“I just remembered thinking it was immersed in history, the pitch didn’t have a blade of grass out of place . . . to get the opportunity to play here, 21 years later, is huge.”
Warrington booked their place in the Super League showcase with a gutsy, if controversial, 18-10 victory against St Helens in the semis.
The win came just a month after a Challenge Cup final loss at Wembley, and a week after they clinched the minor premiership – a healthy return of big games for Gidley, who’d spent 15 years at hometown club Newcastle without any success.
“I debuted in ’01 but didn’t play in the grand final – I got a medal but I wasn’t a part of it,” he says.
“When I decided to come to the UK, I wanted to come to a strong club and a professional club – and I’ve got that.
“Everything has been great, on and off the field . . . although the English boys tell me it’s been the best summer in years, so I think I timed it right!
“It’s been a strong year. The league leaders’ [shield] was a great achievement. It was disappointing to lose the Challenge Cup but the biggest prize is the grand final.”
Another Australian is looking to claim his first piece of silverware after a long, barren run in the NRL.
“It’s been a long wait, 14 seasons
“It’s been a long wait, 14 seasons for me” – Ashton Sims
for me,” says former Dragon, Bronco and Cowboy Ashton Sims. “It’s my first grand final and it’s an unbelievable feeling – but we’ve still got 80 minutes to go before I get too sentimental.”
Warrington are seeking their first title triumph of the Super League era, having lost in their two grand final appearances in 2012 and ’13. In the last decade, only three clubs – St Helens, Leeds and Wigan – have taken the silverware.
“It’d be good for the sport to have a new name win it,” coach Tony Smith says. “But we’ve got to earn that right.” They face a depleted but in-form Wigan side, who finished second on the ladder, in a repeat of the 2013 decider.
Shaun Wane’s Warriors overcame Hull FC 28-18 in a thrilling semifinal last weekend. Anthony Gelling pounced for the match-sealing try.
“To get the try to send us to Old Trafford was a wicked feeling,” says the Kiwi centre.
“The group we have, we deserve to win it. We’ve been consistently good every year. Other teams like Saints and Leeds, they have a year off – but we’ve stuck with it and consistently been up there, through all the injuries, and we want the silverware to reflect it.”
OLD TRAFFORD HERE WE COME! Kurt Gidley and Ashton Sims have booked their tickets to the Theatre of Dreams.