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Home > News > Memories can inspire Widnes Cup challenge
Your News Memories can inspire Widnes Cup challenge

RFU Intermediate Cup Semi-finalists Widnes and Stoke-on-Trent have much in common as they prepare to meet at Heath Road on Saturday (May 30), although for the visitors, winning a trip to Twickenham is the only way they have of getting anything out of a campaign in which they have always been in the promotion hunt.

The fact that Widnes still have a Play-off game to deal with, however, will not detract from the importance of Saturday’s encounter.

“You’d have to say this is the biggest game in the club’s history,” says Widnes Fixture Secretary Derek Dyer: “We’ve never been there before and to be just one game away from playing at Twickenham is quite a thrill.

“From what I hear, it looks as though our season is pretty much a mirror image of that experienced by our opponents. Like us, they are currently in Level 7, and they have been battling for promotion for most of the season. We still have our sights on going up via the play-offs, so there are other important games for us to think about.

“Those assignments will be put on one side on Saturday, of course, when Stoke visit us and hopefully we can deliver our best on the day. We expect to be at full-strength and that means we’ll be looking for players like full-back Andrew Riley, utility back Kevin Leadbetter, our goal-kicker, and lock ‘Bomber’ Varley to produce the top-class displays they’ve been giving us all season.

“Getting so far down the road to Twickenham is really just an extension of the success we’ve been enjoying across the board this season. We’ve been in the league play-offs for the last three years, but had to travel each time and didn’t make it, while our junior section has been producing successful teams for a while.

“Our Colts are in the Lancashire Cup final and overall, there’s plenty of youth in the senior side, so the mood in the club couldn’t be better.”

There will, sadly, be one major cloud over the Widnes club no matter what the outcome, although that situation may well have a positive impact on the team’s performance as they remember one of the club’s finest rugby people, John Ratcliffe, Director of Rugby, Team Manager, general factotum and a man who would take on any job.

Tragically, on the night of the Quarter-final victory over Bridlington, the 63-year-old suffered coronary attack and died, leaving his family and club-mates in a state of shock, coming as it did so soon after the Bridlington celebrations.

Many of the senior players were introduced and helped into senior rugby by him and there are countless Widnes players past and present who owe him a great debt of gratitude, as the list of condolences on the club website underlined.

If those fond memories can be translated into positive energy, John Ratcliffe may still have an important influence to exert.

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