Widnes - Champions of Division One
Sat 29th April 2017 | Widnes | By Ian Templeman
Widnes were presented with the Division One championship trophy after their game against Daisy Hill at the Select Security Stadium.
They ended the season in style by winning 3-1, with striker Kevin Towey grabbing a hat trick.
The game rounded off a terrific season for the club, who were in lower mid-table when Joey Dunn took over as manager in the autumn.
Since then, they have embarked on a terrific run of form that has seen them lose only two league games under Joey’s control, and have finished off the season with 14 straight league wins.
On the day Widnes were presented with the trophy, it looked for a while like Daisy Hill might be party poopers, when Hensley Mills gave them the lead in the second minute with a close range shot at the back post.
But Kevin Towey levelled on the 28th minute with a header from an Luke Edwards corner, and three minutes before half time the same combination delivered a second goal, this time with Towey heading high into the roof of the net.
Towey completed a memorable afternoon both for him and the club, when he completed his hat trick in the 89th minute after Sam Sheen's cross was dummied by Chad Whyte, leaving the striker with a simple finish at the far post.
After the full time whistle, the team were presented with the Division One championship trophy by League Chairman Paul Lawler, and manager Joey Dunn and club captain Kevin Pollard shared their reflections on the season.
“I wouldn't have taken the job on if I hadn't felt there was a capacity to win promotion. I knew the league was very competitive and I'd watched quite a few games and different teams. I think it is important to know the league and I didn't waste my time when I wasn't in football.
“I felt if we got the right players in, which we did, and added to the good nucleus that was already here we'd do well. I didn't have any concerns that we wouldn't be competitive.
“I think if I said I thought we would win the league (when taking over as manager), that would be a bit of a 'porkie', but as the season has gone on, I think we felt more and more comfortable that we were the best team.
“So although we started with a bit of a deficit, we never panicked about things, and early on were winning but never really went anywhere (in the league) as a lot of them were cup games.
“But from the end of September we've lost two league games, drawn five and dropped 16 points over those games I've been in charge, and you have to be happy with that.
“But what I would say is I think that the standards in this league are top, top drawer. This league is as strong now than it has ever been, and if any of the top eight in this division went up into the Premier Division they would be competitive, I am convinced of that.
“We've been really good recently, we've won 13/14 games on the spin now, and that is credit to my lads. It's been a fabulous season for us.
“I did a bit of analysis the other night, and if you look at the teams that have been around us, in the last eight or nine games where we have won all our games and got 100% of points, others were picking up 40% and 50% of points.
“I think you have seen this season there is a real capacity for teams to beat each other, and if you keep picking your points up, gradually bit by bit, you pick teams off, and I think the consistency we showed near the end has been the key.
“The win today (Saturday) means that's 14 wins and 42 points, and if you win 42 out of 42 points at any stage in the season you are going to put yourself in the right place.
“So, we have averaged about two and half points a game, and that usually wins every league.
“I have every faith in my lads, they are a really honest bunch and I am really happy for them, and all the people behind the scenes, the directors and coaching staff have been first class.
“I always go into every season thinking that we are going to win the league and want to stay as competitive as we can, and we will probably pencil in a date to talk about different things, recruiting and the way that we are going to build the club as well.
“We are very clear that we don't just want to go up and be bit part players, we want to go up and be successful again”.
“We had a bit of a turbulent start, and Joey came in and brought in a lot of new faces so there was a lot to handle, but he's got the best out of us and gave the lads belief.
“The run at the end of the season was perfect. We’d had a couple of bad defeats to City of Liverpool in the cup, which were hard to take. Credit to City of Liverpool, they had a game plan and we didn't know what to do about it, to be fair.
“But credit to us too, because after that game, we brushed ourselves down and have gone on an unbeliveable run. The lads got together and we thrashed a few things out and a lot of things needed saying.
“That game was a wake up call. We'd only lost a couple of games during the season since Joey took over, especially in the league so maybe a bit of arrogance was in there. But that game gave us the kick up the backside we needed, and here we are now, picking up the league title.
“I have to give credit to the lads, they have shown some real steel. There have been some tough games where we had to dig our heels in and I am so proud of them.
“There have been a lot of games where we have been fighting for each other, for 1-0, 2-0, 2-1 results, and they are the games that mean a lot more to me than the 5-0 and 8-0 games.
“I think the Chadderton game on Easter Monday was the point when I started believing we could win the league, because I knew that would be a hard game, and going into the Charnock game (last Saturday) I felt that whoever won that game would go on and win the league.
“Now we have got a few derbies (next season) with the Runcorn games, and a few others to look forward to. We've got a fairly young squad with a few old heads, but I fancy us to kick on, I really do”.
Photo courtesy of John Rooney.