Fans, media and corporate all mixed with real excitement yesterday, as Salford Red Devils launched their assault on the 2014 season at the Lowry Theatre.
In the setting of the Compass Room, where views are dominated by MediaCityUK and Old Trafford, Marwan Koukash and his players took centre stage – and deservedly so.
Salford’s ambitious journey from near-extinction, to big-spenders has been well documented, but it is only when you see the squad together that there is a realisation of the talent they now possess.
As the players filed past the waiting audience, there was no need for introductions.
Big names like Adrian Morley, Rangi Chase, Gareth Hock and Harrison Hansen are known to all, and the supporting cast is also very impressive.
As well as Morley, Hock and Hansen, their sizeable pack also includes prop Lama Tasi, 2013 Player of the Year Andrew Dixon and former St Helens stalwart Tony Puletua.
Hookers Tommy Lee and Stuart Howarth should be given plenty to feed off, and when they do there will be a number of creative options to choose from.
Salford’s trio of half-backs, Chase, Tim Smith and Theo Fages ooze class, while centres Junior Sa’u and Martin Gleeson have over 150 club career tries between them.
Francis Meli is another who knows where the try-line is, and if the likes of Danny Williams and Jake Mullaney step-up to the plate, who knows how clinical the Red Devils attack could be?
A video presented to the audience yesterday prophesised 2014 as ‘a season of dreams’ for the long-suffering club, and although it would be naive to back Salford to go all the way, Koukash’s expectations of a top six finish – that were initially laughed at – now look a lot more serious.