Sheffield Eagles on right track but RFL lack White Rose name

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WHEN I was a kid I used to love days out in Blackpool. A paddle in the sea, a donkey ride, fish and chips and a visit to the Pleasure Beach.

Now I’m 80 minutes away from reliving some of those childhood memories if all goes well for Sheffield Eagles on Friday night. Beat Halifax at Don Valley Stadium and it’ll be the Eagles fans’ works outing for the final of the Northern Rail Cup.

Walking down Bloomfield Road to Blackpool FC’s stadium won’t be quite like Wembley Way - the Rail Cup is rugby league’s answer to the Johnstone Paints Trophy!

It says quite a lot about the Eagles that they are one game away from their second final in nine months. It’s payback time for the years of struggling to rebuild the club.

Last season a mix and match squad beat the odds and got to the Co-operative Championship Grand Final. Okay, they lost to Featherstone Rovers but they still collected a dividend in terms of belief that maybe next year they could go one better.

Without any big fuss the Eagles have become a force in the competition just below the Super League.

This season the team are chasing a top three finish in the league and if they can book an awayday ticket to a Cup final that’s a bonus.

Halifax will come to Don Valley as slight favourites now it’s up to the Eagles to derail their travel plans. There’s no lack of motivation - losing in a semi-final really hurts and there’ll be no bag of chips on the seafront!

Rugby League is to get its own sporting hero statue outside Wembley to mark the game’s long association with the stadium.

It’s great but it seems the SatNav has been programmed wrongly when it came to picking the candidates to be immortalised with Yorkshire pride taking a hit.

A panel of so-called experts (including national newspaper editors and MPs!) have come up with a short-list to be put to a public vote. Five former playing greats plus a ‘group representation’ – the ‘indecision is final’ option.

The five former players all took part in Challenge Cup finals at the stadium. Three are from Wigan – Eric Aston, Billy Boston and Martin Offiah plus Gus Risman and Alex Murphy.

They are all league greats but it is a backward looking list with ‘Chariots Offiah’ the only player anyone who isn’t drawing their pension will have seen in their prime.

And if you are Yorkshire you’ll soon twig that it’s a Lancashire-biased (with a hint of Cumbria) line-up with only Gus Risman having drifted this side of the Pennines for a spell. No room for the likes of Mal Reilly, Neil Fox or Ellery Hanley?

If, like me, you think there should be a Yorkshire name in there (and I’m a Lancastrian) then send your comments to the RFL on Wembley.statue@rfl.uk.com.