The fourth of our 2019 Readers Awards goes to the Flop of the Year.
The snowflake generation might be critical of such an award, but sometimes things that go wrong must be acknowledged, and you’ve had your say.
3. Magic Weekend at Anfield
The 13th edition of Magic Weekend saw its fifth different venue as Super League took a full round of fixtures to Anfield, home of Liverpool FC.
The concept in general is tired, there wasn’t much in the way of mouth-watering games to look forward to, and the location of Anfield and its surroundings didn’t have the same lure as its predecessors.
The very fact it was only an hour or so up the road for most fans seemed to have an impact too, not to mention the underwhelming weather.
The first day just about broke the 30,000 barrier, but a disappointing 26,812 on day two – when there were two games both settled by two points, including the unlikely relegation four-pointer between Leeds and London – virtually spelled the end for Anfield after just one year, and Robert Elstone has taken the event back to Newcastle with his tail between his legs for 2020.
2. Leeds’ new era
Getting rid of four-time Grand Final winning coach Brian McDermott was meant to spell the start of a new era for Leeds, but 2019 turned in to a disaster.
David Furner, the man tasked with re-building the Rhinos, lasted just 14 games in charge, winning four – and getting rid of him barely sparked an upturn in fortunes either.
For the third time in four seasons, the most successful club in the Super League era found themselves fighting it out at the bottom – but with automatic relegation back in place for the first time, there was the very real prospect of them finishing bottom.
As it was, they just about survived as the four-way battle to avoid the drop went to a final day.
With the backdrop of a re-developed Headingley, relegation would have been catastrophic. Even club legend Kevin Sinfield didn’t escape criticism for his role in the mess. New signing Tui Lolohea was shipped out mid-season and ended up playing in the Grand Final for Salford, while captain Kallum Watkins was discarded, taking up a deal with Gold Coast in the NRL.
1. The return of Great Britain
The much-heralded return of Great Britain after a 12-year absence turned in to a disaster.
Led by a coach more interested in using the tour as a trial run for England’s tilt at the Ashes and the World Cup, and with some head-scratching squad selections, the Lions would be embarrassed on tour by both Tonga and Papua New Guinea, suffering four defeats from four.
The old saying is that you shouldn’t go back, and maybe we were hasty in championing a return of GB – even if the decision to scrap it more than a decade ago was the wrong one.
Love Rugby League Readers’ Awards 2019 Flop of the Year – Great Britain