DARYL Powell took one look at the place he used to sit and the turnstile he used to go through as a fan and realised, ‘This is it.’
Whatever happens tonight, this will be his last home match as Castleford coach, the club he revitalised over eight years after being a supporter in the late 1970s.
Ahead of facing Warrington, the club he joins next season, he took a solo walk around Wheldon Road, the place he has made so intimidating since rejoining his boyhood heroes in 2013.
And the memories came flooding back ahead of an emotional night – but one he hopes sees them seize a place in the play-offs.
Powell said: “We had a day off on Tuesday and I started reflecting, then after team run yesterday I walked around and looked at the ground itself – some of which is the same as when I supported them!
“Memories of both teams I coached and watched as a fan went through my mind. I looked at the turnstiles at the Wheldon Road End and remembered walking in. I’m 56 now but I started watching them when I was about 16-years-old.
“It’s easier to remember as most of the ground is the same. I think the seat I sat on is still the same!
“There’s a park nearby I used to buy programmes from. I still have them in my loft and garage. I’d come to second team games as well as first team ones.
“Just the feel of the stadium is great – it just whacked me yesterday that this is it.”
Powell’s impact after joining Castleford when they were bottom is undoubted – he guided them to both Super League’s Grand Final and the Challenge Cup final.
Now for one last push on what he calls a ‘special night,’ as he and several players say goodbye. One who is not is Liam Watts, who returns after suspension and playing on despite having a chipped shin bone!
But the fact Wheldon Road has not changed is becoming a millstone around the Tigers’ necks as a move to a new stadium remains doubtful.
Powell, though, would like to see their home since 1926 revamped as he added: “This ground is iconic. If we could develop this area, that’s my preferred option. Hopefully I’m leaving the club in a better place on the field though.”
ENGLAND’S second string Knights are set to play the country's only home international rugby league game this year against Jamaica.
The side of up and coming talent is lined up to face the World Cup qualifiers at Castleford’s Wheldon Road in Jordan Turner’s testimonial on Friday, October 15.
A week later, the Caribbean island – dubbed the Reggae Warriors – are likely to take on Scotland on Sunday, October 24.
Jamaica hope their qualification for the World Cup, with several Super League stars representing their heritage, can bring rugby league to new markets both at home and abroad.
It is also believed they will face Wales mid-season in 2022.
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