Northern Rail Cup victory was best day of my career - Danny Maun

It has been almost 10 years since Batley Bulldogs ended their 86-year wait for a major trophy and Danny Maun still recalls it as the best day of his career.

Alex Brown was Batley’s hero as they beat Widnes Vikings 25-24 in a dramatic Northern Rail Cup final in Blackpool.

Widnes went into the game as strong favourites, and were leading 24-15 with just 12 minutes to go.

But up stepped Brown, scoring twice late on to help the Bulldogs lift the Northern Rail Cup for the first time in 2010.

“It was probably the best day of my career,” said Maun.

“You don’t get the chance to win many trophies. I won the Championship with Hunslet, which is brilliant, and at Dewsbury.

“But for the Northern Rail, nobody gave us a chance and that is what makes it more magical for me.

“I think there was about 6,000 Widnes fans there but we went and did it. It was just a magical day to be honest.”

Batley went unbeaten through their entire cup run, winning three and drawing one of their four pool fixtures to qualify top of Pool One, finishing above Widnes on points difference.

Batley beat Sheffield Eagles 26-16 at Mount Pleasant in the quarter final, before producing an incredible display at Leigh Centurions to win 25-4.

“We played Sheffield in the quarter finals at Mount Pleasant and then went to Leigh on a Thursday night in the semi-finals, which no one gave us a chance for,” Maun continued.

“And it was probably the best performance I have been involved in, personally and as a team, in that game.

“Leigh couldn’t even score a try and it was just surreal that night.”

Batley were coached at the time by Karl Harrison, who has now returned to the club as a consultant advisor to the Bulldogs’ coaching staff.

And Maun feels it was the belief created by the coach that played a key role in their cup triumph.

“What Karl created that year, and I don’t want to be disrespectful, but we didn’t have any big-name or star players,” Maun added.

“We just did a job on teams and we had that belief after the semi-final that we could do anything.

“And you could feel the month building up to it that we had something special. It was hard to put your finger on it.

“The team spirit was quality and we just enjoyed playing with each other, it was good.”

Over 8,000 fans attended the final in Blackpool and Maun recalls the noise before the game had even kicked off.

He said: “The build up to the game was brilliant, you couldn’t hear yourself warming up, there were that many people there.

“In the game we started really well but then it got to a stage when I thought, ‘are we going to win it?’

“But then Alex Brown scored one of the best tries you will see in a final to get the win.

“And the rest is history. It is surreal and I am proud to be part of it.”

Batley now have the chance to make more memories like the ones almost a decade ago with the 1895 Cup returning for a second season.

The competition, which is open to Championship and League One clubs, gives teams outside of Super League the chance to compete for silverware at Wembley.

Sheffield Eagles became the first team to lift the trophy, beating Widnes 36-18 in a historic clash at Wembley last season.

“If you look, there are only two big trophies you can win in the English league,” said Maun.

“So you have got to give Championship and League One teams a bit of incentive, and to give the fans something back as well I think.

“The Yorkshire Cup should be a feature of the year as well.”