By Ian Golden, Date: 20/6/14
South Wales Scorpions stalwart Ashley Bateman is looking forward to his club’s 100th game on Saturday when they take on York City Knights at Blackwood RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).
Bateman is one of four survivors from the 22-20 victory over Workington Town in the Scorpions’ very first game back on 28th February 2010 who is still at the club, but unlike Shaun Owens, Barrie Phillips and Neil Dallimore who have all had breaks over the past four and half years, Bateman has rarely missed a game.
The 24-year old, should he take to the field on Saturday, will be making his 93rd appearance for the Scorpions and the 99th in his first class career (he made one appearance in Super League for the old Celtic Crusaders and 2009 and has won five full Wales caps).
And now he would love to celebrate such a big team milestone by ripping up the form book and turning over a York team who rendered the Scorpions scoreless earlier in the season.
“This club has gone through a lot of hard work to get to the 100th game and it’ll be even better if we can win it,” Bateman said.
“That first year, we got into the play-offs and that really set the club up for the future. The team spirit this year is comparable to that in 2010.
“The big difference this year compared to last is we have players who turn up for training. Last year we struggled to get the numbers and the team lacked commitment. This year, even though we’ve only won the one game so far, we’ve more of a tight knit squad and everybody fights for each other. The team mentality is so much better.”
The Scorpions will become only the fifth professional Welsh Rugby League team to reach 100 competitive games. The old Celtic Crusaders side lead the way with 182 games from 2006-11, Ebbw Vale played 155 first class games from 1907-12, Cardiff City Blue Dragons played 136 games from 1981-85 with their last season being in Bridgend, and Merthyr Tydfil played 106 times between 1907-11.
“We’re proving the doubters wrong,” Bateman adds. “We’ve had media say we would last a year and we had people telling us earlier this year to give it up. We’re proving all the doubters wrong by being here. People wrote us off from the first game and now we’ve reached 100. We’re still going after the hardship of the end of last year and that’s a credit to everyone involved, players and staff.”
And Bateman is quietly confident that his side can get their first home win of the season on Saturday.
“We got hammered last time but we’ve come a long way since that game.” He said. “It’ll be a completely different game on Saturday and hopefully we can get a win.”
South Wales Scorpions v York City Knights kicks off at 2.30pm at Blackwood RFC. Tickets cost from £1 for children and £8 for adults. Valley Cougars v Bristol Sonics is the curtain-raiser and kicks off at midday.
For those unable to make the match, it can be listened to live on the BBC website by clicking here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/27835031