Departing Batley coach John Kear admits he could not walk away from the Bulldogs before guiding them to a top four finish in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Batley finished above full-timers Bradford Bulls and Sheffield Eagles, along with highly fancied Halifax, in the regular season to reach the Super 8s Qualifiers stage of the competition.
Their level of performances won the hearts of opposing players and fans as Batley secured a seventh place finish, netting the tag of the best semi-professional team in rugby league.
Kear will take on a new challenge as head of rugby at Super League side Wakefield Trinity next month but is delighted he got to finish the job off at Batley.
Kear said: “When I spoke to Michael Carter about joining Wakefield I told him I couldn’t leave Batley until the end of the year because I could feel in my blood and my bones that there was something special happening this year.
“There have been loads of highs this season. The first game wasn’t a bad one (when Batley beat eventual champions Leigh) and that provided the momentum for us to continue for the full year and the crescendo was at Swinton.”
Salford Red Devils, who defeated Batley in the Bulldogs’ final game of the season, won a dramatic Million Pound Game 19-18 in golden point extra time last Saturday, a result which consigned Hull KR to relegation to the Championship.
Kear added: “The players are the people who take your philosophy out onto the field of play and I’m absolutely delighted to have worked with them this season.”
Kear spent a week on holiday but will coaching the Welsh national squad in the World Cup qualifiers.
Kear guided Wales to European Championship glory last year and they now meet Serbia in Llanelli on October 15 and Italy in Monza on October 29, bidding to secure a place in the next World Cup.
Batley fans will also get the chance to see Kear in action with Wales, when they face Jamaica in the first full international between the sides, at Wakefield’s Belle Vue on Friday October 21.
Kear is hoping Batley fans will take up the opportunity to watch international rugby league in West Yorkshire and tickets for the match have been set at £10 adults and £5 juniors and are available direct from Wakefield Trinity.
Kear then starts his new job with Trinity on November 1.