Two years on from the first match under the ownership of Andrew Glover, the Wildcats Chairman says he’d do it all again.
Wakefield travelled to the South of France to take on Catalan Dragons in the first game under Spirit of 1873 Ltd. just days after the takeover and left the Stade Gilbert Brutus with a 38-14 victory.
Much has happened since that first game, with just homegrown talents Matty Wildie, Kyle Trout, Chris Annakin and Lucas Walshaw along with Frankie Mariano the only members of the first team squad at that time still part of the setup today.
More than twenty new players have arrived as well as head coach Richard Agar, achieving only the clubs third ever play-off appearance with a club Super League record winning run of seven games at the back end of 2012 before bowing out to eventual Champions Leeds Rhinos.
It’s not just on the field where great strides have been made. Attendances were up by 25% at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in Super League XVII, with a record number of Gold Membership holders enjoying the opening win of 2013 against Hull KR last Saturday.
Arguably the most significant moment of the tenure was the day the club received notification of planning permission on a new 12,000 capacity community stadium at Newmarket being approved by the Secretary of State after many months of work by a wide range of people inside and outside the club.
In a taster of an interview carried out for March’s edition of Forty-20 magazine, Glover admitted he was like a rabbit in the headlights in his early days in charge, but is enjoying the task of taking the Wildcats forward as much as ever.
“We as a club have grown,” said Glover. “We’ve grown on turnover, we’ve grown on margin, we’ve grown on perception – every part of what we’ve done has grown. We still find it tough, but not too tough. But we expected that.
“Everything we do now is looked at on a commercial basis. The commerciality of it comes before everything, whether that be from signing a player or buying a stamp.”
Glover, whose award winning West Yorkshire Windows business is now in its twentieth year of trading, says the support provided from the RFL has been ‘invaluable’, conceding that rugby league was always a sport that was very much in the background for him until taking over at the Wildcats.
This week saw a meeting of the Super League Chairmen and Chief Executives with Glover now much better placed now than the first time he attended such a gathering.
“The first one of those I went to I didn’t have the foggiest what they were talking about. But now I go to the meetings and have an opinion on the way the game is run. I think that’s important because mine and James’ opinions on the game are quite refreshing.
“There’s a lot of people who have been doing the job for a long, long time. They’re very good at it, but sometimes it’s quite nice to see a different angle to why we do things.”
Moving into the new community stadium at Newmarket in 2015 is still on course, with the Wildcats owner confirming that the club are working closely with stadium experts Stadimax to ensure the best possible stadium not just for fans to enjoy their rugby in, but one that will secure the future of the club for years to come.
“Any sporting organisation that goes into the process of building a stadium will only do it once in their lifetime. We had a very daunting thought of ‘how do we build a stadium?’ So we engaged Stadimax who are a team of eighteen that are all expert consultants who have all done individual parts of stadiums before such as the Ricoh Arena, Reebox Stadium and Amex Arena.
“All of these people have got little bits of expertise through what they’ve done right in their build and they’ve come together to help people like us on how to build a stadium.
“We did that because we looked at the commerciality of the stadium and said ‘how can we make this work?’ We have to make it so it stands on its own two feet. As we stand today, the idea is to commercialise the whole building into something that makes money. We’re a long way down the line so that the stadium isn’t only self sustainable, but makes a profit, and that’s the money that will go into the club to secure its future.
“I still expect us to be here (Rapid Solicitors Stadum) in 2015, but not by the end of it. There’s not many stumbling blocks to stop us making that date, but there’s a lot less than there were.”
You can read more from Glover in next month’s edition of Forty20.
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