WITH lovely symmetry, Castleford Tigers play in their first Super League Grand Final tonight – on the 10th anniversary of the game that crucially secured them a place back in the top-flight.
It was on October 7 2007 that the West Yorkshire club, then coached by Australian Terry Matterson, defeated Widnes 42-10 in the National League One Grand Final at Headingley.
It had been the second time in three years they had immediately bounced back from relegation and, thankfully, for Castleford they have not ventured to the second-tier since.
Kirk Dixon, who played on the left wing outside maverick Australian centre Ryan McGoldrick, recalled to The Yorkshire Post: “I dread to think what would have happened if we hadn’t got promoted that day.
“Widnes found it difficult to get back in didn’t they? They didn’t return until 2012 as licensing came in soon after. There was definitely a bit of pressure on us to get the job done and Widnes had beaten us earlier in the regular season as well.
“But we were dominant in that final. Really dominant.”
Although Castleford only led 13-4 at the break, they turned on the style in the second period and finished easy winners.
Kiwi prop Awen Guttenbeil (2), Michael Wainwright, McGoldrick, Michael Shenton – the only remaining member in tonight’s Old Trafford side – Joe Westerman and Ryan Clayton all scored tries.
Danny Brough kicked six goals and two drop-goals to make sure Widnes never got near.
Dixon said: “Broughy’s kicking game was phenomenal. He really led us from half-back and kicked them to death.
“Awen Guttenbeil probably had his best ever game for us.
“He was playing for New Zealand just two years before and you could see he was international quality.
“We had some quality players and always looked comfortable.”
Former Hull FC winger/centre Dixon scored 72 tries in 160 games for Castleford before retiring ahead of the 2015 campaign still aged just 30 due to a neck injury.
“I’d joined Cas’ for that 2007 season initially just on a one-year deal,” he recalled, after a brief spell in rugby union with Northampton Saints.
“I’d gone there to get some confidence back in my game and thankfully it went well.
“I signed a longer deal halfway through that first year and I loved it there. Some people thought Widnes would end up going up but Terry had us playing well and he had us peaking at just the right time.
“It’s great to see Cas doing so well now. What Daryl Powell’s done is fantastic.
“Shenny’s a really good friend, too, and I’m so pleased to see him captaining them at Old Trafford now. Even back in 2007 when he was only 21 or so people were earmarking him as an England centre and he has done that.
“But he was quality for us that year. I think he had the chance to sign for Wakefield but he stuck by Cas and was a massive part of us getting back into Super League.
“He’s grown into a great leader at Cas and knows just what it means to the people of the town,” he added.
Current London Broncos coach Andrew Henderson was Castleford captain.
Gutted Widnes lost for the second successive season having fallen versus Hull KR in 2006.