Carnegie Challenge Cup: Milford Marlins out to make history

Andy Barker.
Andy Barker.
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Butterill’s boys out to make a bit of history

LEEDS amateur club Milford Marlins are preparing for what could turn out to be the biggest day in their history.

The Carnegie Challenge Cup third round draw was a double-edged sword for the National Conference Division One side.

They were paired at home with one of the poorest-supported teams in the semi-professional ranks so the tie will not be a money-spinner, but in Gateshead Thunder they will face opposition they have a genuine chance of turning over.

Marlins have switched tomorrow’s tie to the rugby union ground at West Park Bramhope and are hoping a big crowd will turn up to see if they can create history.

No Leeds amateur team has beaten semi-pro’ opposition in the Challenge Cup, but Marlins captain Andy Barker feels they have a real chance.

“It’s nine years since Milford were last in the third round,” he said. “I remember going to Headingley to watch them play York.

“It has been a while. It is a bit of a similar scenario this time.

“When they played York, York had gone something like 20 games without a win, but they put 40 points on the Milford boys (York won 42-0).


“Gateshead are coming into the game in not such good form, but they are still a professional team. We will have our work cut out definitely.

“We will have to play really, really well and they’ll have to have an off-day, but we are quietly confident.

“We will give it a good go.”

Milford have already caused two upsets, beating Conference Premier Division teams York Acorn and Skirlaugh.

Barker said: “We have a really young team – I am one of the older lads and I’m only 25. The average age is 20, 21.

“We’ve got players who will cause them some trouble.”

Halves Josh Parle and Ryan Oxtoby are both talented players and Milford boast a tough, hard-working pack.

The prize on offer is a place in the fourth round draw and possibly a tie against Engage Super League opposition.

“Hopefully we will make a bit of money out of the game on Saturday and if we get through, it is potentially a massive money-spinner,” Barker said.

“All amateur clubs struggle for cash, so that’s the biggest thing.”

Barker will turn out for Milford after being given time off from his day job – as assistant first-team physio at Leeds Rhinos, who visit Warrington Wolves tomorrow evening.

Gateshead have lost their four Northern Rail Cup ties this season, conceding 250 points and scoring only 30, but Marlins coach Mark Butterill is aware his side will have to be at the very top of their game.

“I know they have had some cricket scores, but they are used to playing at a higher pace,” he said.

“It will make for a tough game, but I am confident we can compete and give them a game.”

Butterill added: “It would be fantastic if we could get a big crowd. It is a good occasion more than anything and it should be a good day for the club.

“We have a great bunch of players and they deserve to be part of a day like this.

“It is also a day for others who put some much hard work into the club, which goes unrecognised.

“Our chairman Bob Barker lives and breathes and club and I like to think it is a small reward for all the hard work he has put in over the years.”

Milford Marlins (v Gateshead): McGann, S Hood, Richardson, Jones-Bishop, B Hood, Oxtoby, Parle, Ward, Coates, Elkington, Speight, A Barker, J Barker. Subs from Reeves, Green, Elliker, Horner, Morton, Watmough.

Referee: Craig Halloran (Dewsbury).

Kick-off: Tomorrow, 2.30pm, at West Park Bramhope.

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