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2005 - The Eagles in Flux

Changed continued for the Club, with a number of experienced players having retired it took time for the young squad to develop.

2005 was a season of change for the Eagles. With an average age of 25, it had one of the youngest squads in league. Several of the senior players had decided, or been forced through injury, to retire.


Bright Sodje, Guy Adams and Wayne Flynn, all decided to call it a day. Captain Jon Bruce had initially informed the club that he would carry on for another season, but his persistent back problem forced him to review his options. He reluctantly decided to hang up his boots after playing 130 games for the Eagles since their rebirth. The club had lost their go-ahead powerhouse, who had had a consistent positive impact on the team, even in times when they had had their backs against the wall.He would be difficult to replace.

Jon’s been massive for us from the first minute of him coming to club. He’s an inspirational leader and a true professional. He’s given us four or five outstanding years and he’ll be missed.
Mark Aston 2005

Although his appearance in the previous year had been limited by a persistent achilles problem, former captain Richard Goddard had initially hoped to play on, but he had recently joined the prison service and it became evident that his shift patterns at work would prevent him from training and playing. He had played 115 games for the Eagles scoring 32 tries and 211 goals, with his best season haul was 263 points (2001/02 season). The Eagles had lost a points machine, and one of their on and off the field generals. Another player who it would be extremely hard to find a successor.

Now I’m the one a lot of the younger players look to and it’s up to me to prove that I can lead. A lot of responsibility falls on your shoulders and I take it very personally if we lose because I don’t think I’ve done my job.
Richard Goddard February 2005

A further shock was the decision by Andy Poynter not to re-sign for the club as he had decided, initially for a year, to try his luck in Australia. Having played 117 games for the club, scorings 67 tries, he was to prove another great loss. Scott Collins, after two appearances for the Eagles in 2005, signed for Gateshead Thunder, who were now managed by the former Sheffield conditioner, Dean Reynolds who had decided to move into coaching at the end of last season.

Andy has been one of the most consistent players over the last few seasons. He’s probably been the best full back in our league.
Mark Aston October 2004

Two of the Eagles young stars moved on, snapped up by clubs in higher divisions. Jordan James went to Castleford Tigers and Andy Raleigh signed for Hull KR. Adam Carroll, Peter Reilly, and Steve Docherty also left the club, the latter going back to Australia.

That left 19 players from the previous season. With the departures the Eagles had lost a wealth of experience which had to be replaced. With a limited budget, however they were competing with every other club who were looking to seriously strengthen their squads for the forthcoming season. New signings were:

  • Liam Brentley (Bradford Dudley Hill)
  • John Crawford (Illawara)
  • Chris Molyneaux (Batley)
  • Mitchell Stringer (London Broncos)
  • Peter Moore (Cardiff)
  • Waisale Sovatabua (Otley RU)
  • Rob Worrincy (Castleford)
  • Andy Rice (Batley)
  • Gareth Stanley (unattached)
  • Jaymes Chapman (Halifax)
  • Damian Lynch (Australia)
  • Joseph Pitt (Australia)
  • Lynton Stott (Hull KR)
  • Adrian Veamatahau (Coventry)

In securing the services of the Division 3 National League Player of the Year, Adrian Veamatahau, the club had had to fight off the interests of several other clubs. Gareth Stanley had played for the Eagles the previous season, but had lost out to Scott Collins and not re-signed until March, when Collins moved onto Gateshead. Andy Rice had been on loan from Batley in 2004, but decided to sign a contract with the Eagles for 2005

As the season’s events unfolded the club managed to bring other players in on loan for brief periods. Both Jon Presley and James Ford arrived from Featherstone, and Tom Buckenham from Doncaster. Waisale Sovatabua and Jimmy Pearson arrived after the end of the Rugby Union season.

As the Eagles had lost all three of its captains at the end of 2004, it was decided that Gavin Brown, as the senior player would be Club Captain, whilst Jack Howieson would be the Team Captain.

Off The Field

Mark Aston, on the retirement of his father, Brian, became Chief Executive of the club. Consequently, he decided to expand his coaching staff to assist Howard Wilkinson, Andy Tyers and himself. He brought in former players Dale Laughton and Chris Robinson, who had been coaching amateur teams in previous seasons and were looking to step up into coaching in the semi-professional game. Dale Laughton was to take over the vacant conditioner’s role.

Following an assessment of the previous season’s attendance, when the club had played several home fixture on either a Friday or a Sunday, dependent upon the availability of Don Valley, the Board had decided to only have Friday home games for the 2005 season to avoid clashes with other events.They had found that in 2004, Fridays had secured the highest crowds of the season.

Most of the players will be happier playing Friday nights. They might be working to until lunchtime and then go home and rest up. But it gives them the weekend off to be with their families.
Mark Aston December 2004


The Eagles had two friendlies in the lead up to the 2005 season. The first was the second Jon Bauer Memorial Match with amateur team Hillsborough Hawks, who had had a successful season in National League Division 3. Although the Hawks were never overrun, they were dominated by a very focused Sheffield side, who limited the home side to a solitary try. With John Crawford being the standout player for the visitors, by half time the Eagles had created a twenty point lead, with further tries following the break securing a victory, 50-4. A week later they experienced a stronger test at the Jungle, Castleford Tigers ground. Castleford had been relegated the previous season from Super League to Division One and with their full-time squad, had heavily defeated Hunslet Hawks in their previous friendly. The match had been arranged as part of the deal that took Jordan James to the club.

Sheffield Eagles v Hillsborough Hawks 23/01/2005

The Eagles’ young side were high on enthusiasm and willing to turn their ball control deficiencies into an all-out defensive display. After Castleford had taken an early 12-0 lead, the Eagles then scored through Adrian Veamatahau. Soon after the Tigers were down to 11 men, when two of their players were sent from the field, one for punching, the other for dissent.Although the home side managed to get another try before the interval, Sheffield were only behind by 10 points.The stern test for the visitors continued after the break, but they held out for long spells against Castleford’s 12 men for most of the half, conceding three tries, including one from ex-Eagle Jordan James to a Carl De Chenu solo effort.

I’m not sticking my head on the block and saying we are going to win the league. We’ve certainly got to improve. I want to sit down at the end of the season and say we’ve been successful rather than it be disappointing.
Mark Aston December 2004

Whilst the final score, 32-10 to the Tigers was a disappointment, Mark Aston was pleased with how his players had dealt with the pressures of the match, declaring that they were at a better stage of their development than the 2004 squad had been at this time of the season.

Looking to the new season Mark Aston was very cautious about the Eagles prospects.

Cup Competitions

A new year brought a new sponsor for the annual National Leagues’ cup competition, Northern Rail. It also brought a change to the group structure, reducing the total number of games played by each team to 6 at the group stage. The Eagles had been drawn against Batley, Dewsbury and their South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster, a group that had been tagged, “The Group of Death”.

In their first game the Eagles had a home fixture against Dewsbury Rams. In the pre-season the Rams had focused on recruiting players with Super League experience into their squad, including four ex-Eagles players and were the bookies tip for promotion from Division 2. With a cagey start from both sides, due to the wet conditions that made ball handling difficult, the initial stages resulted in the home side taking a slight lead 4-2. On the half hour the Eagles had increased that lead to 14-2, through tries from Ryan Dickinson and Adrian Veamatahau. The visitors hit back with a try, to go in at the interval 14-6 down.

The Eagles added more points from the restart through a converted try from John Crawford. The Rams experience began to bear fruit as they started to slowly close the gap to within six points, when Gavin Brown slotted a drop goal between the posts, ensuring a first victory for Sheffield, 23-16. Throughout the game the Eagles defence stood firm against concentrated attacks from their opponents. The win, based on a strong performance, was a good start to the competition, but this was to be there only win in this season's Rail Cup, as the young squad came up across teams with much more experience.

Sheffield Eagles v Dewsbury Rams 11/02/2005

In the next game was away to local derby rivals Doncaster Dragons, who had lost their opening fixture and were in no mood to lose this game. The Eagles had not won a game at Belle Vue in ten years but found themselves tying with their opponents 12 all at the break, having dominated the first half. After the break was a different story as the Dragons ran in eight tries against two from the visitors in a one-sided half, to take the game 58-20.

A further defeat followed at Batley Bulldogs, 16-28. Hit by a spate of penalties, the Eagles went behind by 16 points, but far from dropping their heads the young squad fought back with tries from John Crawford and a couple from Greg Hurst. They had shown a lot of character in coming back but were unable to prevent a Batley victory. The squad suffered the loss of captain Jack Howieson with a cartilage injury which kept him out of the side for a further six weeks.

The return fixture took place in early March. Just five days after the previous encounter. Again, the penalty count was a key determinant of the result. An 8 to 1 initial penalty count in the first half helped Batley dominate possession which led to the Eagles falling to 22 points behind. The home side were 5 to 3 ahead in the penalty count in the second half and were more in the game. They more than matched the visitors but could not prevent a Batley victory. 34-6. The Eagles had a player sin binned in both halves at crucial stages in the match. The game witnessed the return of Mitch Stringer to the fold who, after coming off the bench, produced some power breaks with some neat out of tackle passing. He then promptly moved to Super League side Salford City Reds for the remainder of the season.

Before the Eagles had to complete their Northern Rail fixtures, they had their Third round Challenge Cup tie against amateurs Waterhead. As their ground was deemed inadequate to hold the game, it was rearranged to be played at the Lindley Swifts ground in Rochdale.A potential banana skin tie against an amateur side, the Eagles struggled to dominate, and the home side could have levelled the game in the dying seconds to force extra time.The lacklustre approach of the visitors was all but overwhelmed by the very positive approach of the Waterhead team. The Eagles struggled to a slim 8-4 interval lead and, although they never lost that lead, were always second best, even though Waterhead had a player sent off at the hour mark. Although his team was through to the next round, Mark Aston was not impressed with the 22-16 victory.

The best team lost and I’m quite willing to say that they played a lot better than us and just about all our players need to look at themselves. I’m not happy, I’m livid about their performance.
Mark Aston Sheffield Star 14 Mar

The final two fixtures of the NRC were an away trip to Dewsbury and a home match against Doncaster. Dewsbury Rams had lost out to amateur opposition in the Challenge Cup, and the Eagles had to pay the penalty for that embarrassment. They were on the wrong end of a seven try backlash from the home side. As they were unlikely to progress to the next stages of the competition, Sheffield put out an experimental side who at times produces some positive play. They took the lead through a John Crawford converted try and a Gavin Brown penalty, but those were the only points scored as the Rams went on the offensive. Losing the game 40 points to 8, the Eagles had to play with 12 men for the last twenty minutes, as Damian Lynch was sent off for a series of high tackles.

The last home game of the series was against Doncaster Dragons. Due to the unavailability of Don Valley, it was played at the home of the Rotherham Titans RU side at Clifton Lane. It was something of a meaningless match as Doncaster had already come top of the group, so both sides used the game for less used squad players to get some vital match experience. In unfamiliar home surroundings, in front of a crowd of over a thousand, the Eagles snatched an early lead through tries from Adrian Veamatahau and Simon Morton. By the interval they were behind, 10-14. Despite a Danny Mills try levelling the game, Doncaster were 14 points ahead on the hour. Although Joseph Pitt scored his first try for the Eagle, the home side lost the game 20 points to 38.

Mark Aston felt it had been a positive performance by his side as many Eagles players had had a decent performance which he believed could be built on.

Sheffield Eagles v Doncaster Dragons 25/03/2005

The Eagles travelled Barrow Border Raiders for their Fourth round Challenge Cup tie early in April. The Sheffield side started the tie as the underdogs, but after Barrow had scored a very early try to lead 6-0, the visitors pounced playing some good rugby to establish a 16-6 lead. Barrow responded levelling the scores by the interval, and they continued their scoring in the second half, particularly when Jimmy Pearson was inexplicably sent to the sin bin, to pull clear at 31-16 after scoring 25 points without reply. But once again the visitors came back strongly, to pull back the score to 32-26, before a late field goal edged the home side over the victory line. The Eagles were out of the Challenge Cup for another year.

Mark Aston was furious with the referee whose peculiar decisions, he argued, had cost his side the game. At a critical stage in the tie, with the Eagles defending the line for six tackles, the referee signalled an extra phantom tackle, when the Eagles should have had the ball back. That enabled the home side to score. The referee had also awarded more than double the number of penalties against the Eagles in the second half than the home side and had failed to give offside decisions against Barrow on crucial kicks that led to tries. He demanded the RFL review the referee’s performance during the game as his actions had influenced the outcome of the game.

That cost us the game and the referee has to be accountable for that. It was a kick through on the last tackle and the referee called it back to the fifth tackle- what’s that all about? I’ve never been so infuriated in my life with a referee’s performance.
Mark Aston Sheffield Star 4 Apr

National League 2

Many of the clubs had strengthened their squads in the pre-season, bringing in players with a wealth of experience, from playing in higher divisions including in Super League. This had been the case with the two starting favourites to take the title, Swinton Lions and York City Knights. Due to financial difficulties, Chorley Lynx pulled had out of the division at the end of the previous season to re-emerge as Blackpool Panthers. Barrow Border Raiders had been promoted to Division One to replace relegated Keighley Cougars.

Prior to the opening fixtures the Eagles had secured the services of former Eagle, Lynton Stott who had postponed his retirement for a further season. would bring welcome experience to the young squad, but whether it would be sufficient to ensure another play off push by the young side was still to be seen. Gavin Brown had temporarily taken over the team captaincy due to the injury sustained by Jack Howieson during the second Batley game in the Northern Rail competition.


The new season started on Easter Monday with the Eagles once again having their first fixture of the season at London Skolars. With both sides displaying attacking rugby, London took an early lead, but after that they were always chasing the game.The Sheffield side ran in ten tries during the game, with both John Crawford and Carl De Chenu contributing two each with Gavin Brown adding 8 conversions.The Eagles defence, however, failed to prevent London scoring fives tries. The result, 56-26 to Sheffield saw the Club top of the league for one week.But this was to be the only time that the Eagles were to be in pole position for the rest of the season.


For the first home game of the season, Blackpool Panthers were the opponents.In a dour game, where the penalty count was greater than the points scored in the match, the Eagles squandered many chances to score points. Sheffield struck first with a converted try from Nick Turnbull and that was the Eagles only points of the game. The stop-start nature of the encounter benefited the more experienced Panthers team as they ground out a lead after 50 minutes. Penalties, kicks dead and knock-ons littered the remaining half hour with the Sheffield side never looking like they would score. Blackpool held on to secure their first ever victory, 14-6, whilst the Eagles were locked in their changing rooms for half an hour after the game as the senior players told the rest of the squad that the performance was totally unacceptable.

That’s not good enough for me. I’ve very disappointed and the players are too. Hopefully it will be a wake-up call.
Mark Aston Sheffield Star 2 Apr

After the match it was revealed that Gavin Brown had yet again broken his hand during the game, sidelining this influential and experienced player for a few weeks.

York City Knights away were the next opponents. The Eagles woes continued. Starting off brightly, they drew level with their hosts 6 all, courtesy of a Nick Turnbull try, and were then subjected to a deluge of tries. Just after the hour they were 54 point behind, when York seemed to ease of the pace to allow Greg Hurst to score. Commenting on the 60-10 defeat, an irate Mark Aston called his team’s performance totally clueless, and he decided to look at how he could strengthen his squad as a matter of urgency before matters got even worse.

I’ve never been so embarrassed to be an Eagles fan not even when we lost to Thornhill Trojans. I was so embarrassed that I left early. Some of the players and the coaching need to take a long hard look at themselves and decide what they want from the sport. We cannot afford any more displays like the last two. If we cannot change the fortunes, we will have no alternative but to look to change some of them.
John Whaling Board Member

The final game of April was a home fixture with Keighley Cougars. Prior to the game Mark Aston had signed former GB Junior winger Rob Worrincy from Castleford who went straight into the team. He scored the first and only Eagles points of the game. By that point the home side were already behind by 14 points, losing the match, 4-28. Although the Eagles had had to play many players out of position, due to the growing injury list, they still, according to Mark Aston looked like a ship without a rudder when they got into the opposition’s half.


May started with the re-signing of Sheffield’s Challenge Cup legend, Waisale Sovatabua. Jon Presley, a half back, was brought in on a loan move from Featherstone. Both were in the team for the away fixture against Hunslet Hawks, but the Eagles were soon behind following an early try by the home side. A quick response from the visitors, through converted tries from Craig Brown and Jon Presley had the Sheffield side ahead, 12-4. But further tries from the Hawks gave them the lead at the interval. 22-12. The second half saw the home side go further ahead, but was marred by an incident where a high tackle on John Crawford resulted in he Eagles player being stretchered off, the incident belatedly put on report. Although it was an improved performance from Sheffield, it was a defeat, 12-30. After these series of defeats, the Eagles were now in 8th position in the league.

The only other game of the month was a visit by Gateshead Thunder. For almost half an hour the home side looked bewildered by an unrelenting onslaught from the visitors, led by former player Scott Collins, but it only secured Gateshead a 6 points lead. Then the game swung following a Carl De Chenu try, the result of 50 metre charge by Liam Brentley. De Chenu then doubled his score minutes later, with Jon Presley adding a third helping the Sheffield side to an interval lead, 18-8.Second half tries from Liam Brentley and John Crawford put the Eagles further ahead and, despite two consolation scores for Gateshead, Sheffield had won their first game since Easter Monday, 30-18, and Mark Aston was pleased with the defence and attitude displayed by his players.

At the end of the month, the Eagles released three players, Jaymes Chapman, Adrian Veamatahau and Joseph Pitt, letting a further four players go out on loan to top amateur sides - Rob North and Peter Moore to Hillsborough Hawks, with the brothers Alex and Ryan Dickinson to their former club Bradford Dudley Hill. This slimmed the Eagles squad down to 24 players.


The Eagles were away for their next game at Dewsbury Rams. James Ford, who was on loan to the club, made his debut and duly scored two tries in the first half. With prop forward Damian Lynch also scoring, the Eagles ended the half 18-6 in front. John Crawford added to that lead soon after the interval taking an off-load from Jack Howieson and racing from halfway to score. It looked all over for the Rams, but after Chris Molyneaux was sin binned for fighting, they scored three tries in seven minutes, levelling the tie. Waisale Sovatabua broke the deadlock with 10 minutes to go by burrowing over the line, and to make the result certain, Gavin Brown added a field goal in the closing seconds.Yet another victory for Sheffield, 31-24.

For the first 40 minutes I thought we were outstanding, but we had a lapse in concentration, and they scored. A month ago, we would have lost the game. Our attitude has changed, and we have had a shake up … We’ve got a smile on our face.
Mark Aston LE 5 June

Since the athletics track was being replaced at Don Valley, the next home game against Workington Town was moved to Woodbourn Road Stadium and had to be played on a Saturday. Spectators witnessed a hard-fought game on a narrower than usual home pitch, that could have gone either way. At the start the home side looked to be struggling against the visitor’s large pack of forwards, with a Town win looking certain as they scored after only 3 minutes.

Sheffield Eagles v Workington Town 11/06/2005

The Eagles responded, scoring twice to take and eight-point lead.Back came the visitors who had levelled the scores with 20 minutes to go in the half, and then they moved in front, ending the half ahead, 18-12. After the break, Workington extended their lead to twelve points.Sheffield hit back to again tie the scores, then, through a Gavin Brown drop goal, took a slight lead. That lead was extended with two minutes, by a James Ford converted try, to seven points, but Workington scored from the kick off, but failed to convert. It was a narrow, but welcome victory for the Eagles, 31-28, helped by a contribution from John Crawford , two tries, and six conversions.The three-game winning streak took the Sheffield side into the play off places in sixth position.

As the track work continued at Don Valley, the next games against London was postponed to later in the season.The next outing was consequently a fortnight later with a trip to Swinton Lions.

Swinton came to the game on the back of three successive defeats. The Eagles looked more than capable of taking the spoils as they came from behind twice in the first quarter. But the home side finished the half strongly, taking a 20-12 lead at the interval. Swinton went ahead straight after the break, but Sheffield hit back with a 90 metre try from Carl de Chenu to bring the scores to 26-18. Soon after that Waisale Sovatabua was sin binned for dissent and the 12 men of Sheffield could not prevent the home side scoring a further three tries, before Simon Tillyer pulled one back.The Eagles had lost a fixture they could have won, 42-24.


July began with a trip to Blackpool Panthers. The Eagles started again in the ascendancy as Alex Dickinson crossed the opponent’s line for the third successive game to score a try, this time in the first minute. With 20 minutes gone they were ahead, 18-6, but let the Panthers back in the game. By half time they were only ahead 24-16. After seven minutes had elapsed in the second half, the home side just got their noses in front, 26-24. It was only then that the Eagles reacted scoring 20 unanswered points to claim a victory, 44-26.Aled James, John Crawford and Carl De Chenu all contributed two tries to that victory. Whilst happy with their response to the Swinton defeat and the latest victory, Mark Aston was not happy about the way his side had thrown a commanding lead way, before reacting.

Following the Blackpool victory, the Eagles brought Tom Buckenham on loan from Doncaster and Mark Aston started looking for an impact type player as a replacement for Waisale Sovatabua as he was due to return to Otley RU side, as their season was to start in August. It was rumoured that Tom O’Reilly would be that person. The time off also gave several players the chance to recover from injuries.

The next Eagles outing was a home fixture against Hunslet Hawks. The Hawks were third in the league. Spectators saw a see-saw type of game with the lead changing several times. Despite tries from Liam Brentley, Greg Hurst and Aled James the Sheffield side went in at the interval, 16-22. The second saw the same, with tries for the home side from Waisale Sovatabua and a further one from Hurst.With the score 28-24 in the Hawks favour, the home side were unable to break down the visitors in the last 15 minutes who, following a further score claimed victory and the points. 34-24.

On their travels again, the Eagles were at Keighley Cougars at the end of July. Since their earlier victory over Sheffield early in the season, the Cougars had struggled since their relegation.In a dour game the visitors ground out a result, mainly due to scrum half Jon Presley scoring twice, who had a hand in all Sheffield’s six tries. With the Cougars dominating possession, but Sheffield scoring the points, by half time the Eagles were 18-10 ahead. After the interval Keighley tried to overhaul the visitors by scoring a further ten points but were thwarted by Sheffield who scored a further 15. The outcome, a 33-20 victory, with Alex Dickinson contributing two tries.But here was a cost with both captain Jack Howieson, on his 100th club appearance, and Simon Morton experiencing potential season ending injuries. The Eagles still had their fingertips on a play off place, but they had six games left to consolidate that hold.


August started with a home game against second place Dewsbury Rams. The Eagles produced their best form of the season in doing the double over the Rams. With only two fit prop forwards. But strong defensive play by the home side and the attacking flair of the backs had them ahead 17-0 at the break. Although Dewsbury managed to hit back at the resumption, it was insufficient to change the outcome of the game, with Sheffield claiming the points, 27-12. Both John Crawford and Alex Dickinson contributed a brace each, to help consolidate the team’s play-off place.

But the Eagles play-off hopes were severely dented in the next two games. A trip to Workington Town resulted in a 10-34 defeat as the Workington pack dominated creating a platform that enabled their side to take the points. The next trip to Gateshead Thunder the following weekend provided yet another disappointment. Gateshead had not beaten the Eagles since their reformation, but on this occasion they did.The Eagles were down to their final fit squad of 17 players. In a closely fought first half there was only four points between the two teams, with the home side marginally ahead 12-8. After the interval Gateshead increased the lead, with three converted tries in ten minutes, and scored a further two after the sin binning of Simon Tillyer. Despite the Eagles pulling their lead back, the game was already won 41-18.In the dying minutes Lynton Stott was sent off for fighting. Commenting on the match. Mark Aston believed his team had not really competed and had not helped themselves by doing so.With winning the two points, Gateshead had sneaked into the play offs in 6th spot at the expense of Sheffield, who were now 7th.

With three games to go, Sheffield still had an outside chance of moving back into the playoffs.One setback, however, was the news that the hoped for return of Tom O’Reilly was not going to happen as he had injured his achilles, that would prevent him from playing.

The rearranged home game with London Skolars took place at the end of August. Sheffield were on top from the start. Two tries from Greg Hurst, the latter a 25 metre run down the wing, and a score under the posts from Liam Brentley, had the Eagles 18-0 ahead at the interval. A combination of the home’s determined defence and the many Skolars mistakes made the result a foregone conclusion.With further tries from Brentley, Danny Mills and Jon Presley the Eagles were back in the play-offs, 32-18.

Off the field, following the resignation of all but one of the committee member of the Supporters Club in April, after numerous efforts to find replacements, a special supporters meeting was convened at the end of August. It’s decision was to temporarily suspend the club until such time as a suitable opportunity arose to be able to revive it.


Two home games remained. Visits from the Eagles bogey team, Swinton, and in from table-topping York. The Swinton Lions game took place on the 21st Anniversary of the first ever Eagles match. The Eagles were ahead by ten points within the first five minutes through Carl De Chenu and Jon Presley. Then Swinton moved into the attack with a powerful display. Leading 16-10 at the break, they extended their lead to 16 in the second half. But there was no let up from the Sheffield attack, the whole team were playing exciting, expansive rugby, offloading and slip passing. The pressure they generated brought them their only other try of the game as De Chenu secured his second, pouncing on a grubber from Aled James. But a further two tries aided by the visitors rolling attack sealed the victory, 38-14. A generally young Eagles side produced a mixture of stimulating and exciting moves but were beaten by a side that had too much power, weight, and experience.An epitaph that describes the Sheffield’s 2005 season.

Plans are in motion behind the scenes that will hopefully next year make us a stronger team and hopefully bring in some new faces.
Mark Aston LE 5 Sept
Sheffield Eagles v Swinton Lions 02/09/2005

With Gateshead beating London, Sheffield were again back in 7th spot. They had a very slight chance of still getting into the playoffs if they beat York on the forthcoming Friday night and Gateshead lost to Hunslet the following Sunday.

In front of the largest home crowd of the season, 1,154, League Two champions, York City Knights, ensured that they would not end their campaign with a defeat. The Eagles rocked the visitors with an Alex Dickinson try on three minutes and blunted their early attacks. This was followed by a Rob Worrincy trademark length of the field try on ten minutes. The power of the York forward pack and passing soon saw them level and then take the lead before the interval, 14-10. The sin binning of Simon Morton and the need to substitute experienced players due to injuries, was the catalyst for York to pile on the points in the second half, resulting in a victory 36-10 and end of Sheffield’s slim playoff hopes and season.

Sheffield Eagles v York City Knights 09/09/2005
This has been a very difficult season.We started with a win and then went on a losing streak that ended with the debacle at York. We then pulled the season around by bringing in the experience of Lynton Stott and Waisale Sovatabua and at one time looked as though we would easily make the playoffs. But two poor results and we are now struggling to make the top six. It is clear that we will have to make changes at the end of the season in preparation for a more successful campaign next year.
John Whaling Directory

Whilst the season was one of commercial success off the field, on the field it was the worst that the club had experienced since its reformation. They had lost a lot of experienced players before the season started and had not replaced that experience. Injuries to key established players, Gavin Brown, and Jack Howieson, at crucial stages in the season added to the problems. A young inexperienced squad, although it had the enthusiasm, lacked the power, weight and experience of those teams they competed against.

As the season progressed, the club attempted to stabilise the team on the field through the recruitment of the very experienced Lynton Stott and Waisale Sovatabua who helped the young squad. Bringing in younger players on loan from other clubs helped, but it was not sufficient to secure that all important play off place.

This season has not been the best of seasons. We have suffered all season from injuries. The upset of having to reschedule our fixture list placed a great deal of pressure on everyone and following the departure of a great many of our first team players together with the standard of this division improving year by year it was never going to be an easy season.
Chris Noble Director

The performance on the field had an impact on attendances. The 12 home games saw 10,136 come through the turnstiles. With an average crowd of only 845, this was again a further drop of 6%, a consequence of poor performances in the early part of the season and moving home fixtures to a Friday night, even though the take up of corporate packages had grown. However, for League Two games alone the Sheffield average of 845 was slightly higher than the league average of 832.

Another success story was the club’s work with schools and in encouraging young people to take up the sport. That continued to be a major success story, with the annual tag festival attracting over 30 primary schools.

The Eagles had now to plan for the next season creating a first team squad that would take the automatic promotion spot in 2006.

So what does next season hold for the Eagles? We feel that we have a stable business and have received commitments from most of our sponsors for next season. We have received a further Sportsmatch grant and continue to raise funds through the charitable development trust and so feel secure that our all-important development work can continue. We have increased the player budget for next season and given Mark Aston the go-ahead to significantly strengthen the team during the off-season. Automatic promotion to League Division One is our priority next season.
Ian Swire Director

As the season ended, the Eagles said au revoir to their Assistant Coach Howard Cartwright who had retired after experiencing a period of illness in the closing months of the season. Howard had held his post since the rebirth of the club. One of the most experienced coaches in the game, he was assistant to Gary Hetherington between 1985 to 1993. He then joined Gary Jack, former Eagles Australian star, at Salford, before moving to be assistant to David Ward at Featherstone Rovers. He was also involved in rugby league development work.

I would like to place on record the Board’s thanks for all the efforts that Howard has put into the relaunched Eagles over the last six years
Ian Swire Director

End of Season Awards

Player of the Year: Liam Brentley

Sheffield Star Reader’s Player of the Year: Nick Turnbull

Supporter’s Player of the Year: Liam Brentley

Players Player of the Year: Liam Brentley

Shooting Star Award: Simon Morton

Travelling Club Player of the Year: Craig Brown.

Playing Squad

2005 Playing Squad


2005 Results


2005 Table

Player Statistics

2005 Players

Further Information

For more detail about results and players visit the Rugby League Record Keepers Club website HERE.


Ian Swain