Spirit of the Shed
Salford bid farewell to The Willows
Last Updated: September 15, 2011 10:44am
Phil Clarke and Paul Cullen paid tribute to the Willows but both agreed that it was time for Salford to move on.
A record Super League crowd of 10,146 had gathered to watch the Reds bid their final farewell having played there for 110 years, with a parade of legends, including Mike Coulman, David Watkins and Paul Charlton, held before kick-off.
However, their contemporaries were unable to give the ground a fitting send-off as they head to their new home - the Community Stadium at Barton, which will open next year - as they were soundly beaten 44-16 by Catalans Dragons.
"It is a sad ending but things have got to move on," said Phil Clarke on Boots 'n' All.
"The Willows has played an important part in the community and helped held the fabric together - births, deaths and marriages have been celebrated in that social club.
"But in many ways the facilities have probably held the club back. It is a bit like a racing car trying to compete against other racing cars with a flat tire. It is not a level playing field and perhaps moving to a new stadium will increase their chances of doing that.
"I think we also have to pay tribute to John Wilkinson. His persistence to work towards a new stadium has paid off. Most people would have given up, he should be applauded for driving that on," added Phil.
"There are similarities that Warrington and Hull made from old grounds to a brand new facility and hopefully that will be a parallel experience for Salford. Although moving to a new stadium does not guarantee success. You have to get things right on the field as well as off and having a beautiful new stadium."
Paul Cullen hopes that the record breaking crowd follow Salford to their new stadium but also hopes that the take some of the spirit of the Willows with them.
"There have been many hurdles that Salford and John Wilkinson could have fallen at but they chose not to," said Paul on Boots.
"There have been some bad Mondays and he has had the resilience to handle that and to keep on working forward.
Players and coaches will not miss the changing rooms - I can guarantee that and they won't miss the Shed.
"So I hope Salford don't lose all that because it has always been an intimidating place to go. They need to make sure they take some of that with them when they move to the new stadium."