McDermott's cup defence
Coach mystified over lack of support from fans
Last Updated: 25/08/12 6:43am
Brian McDermott: Insists everyone wants to win the Challenge Cup
Leeds coach Brian McDermott insists the Challenge Cup is as "big as ever" despite dwindling crowd numbers.
Around 80,000 fans will flock to Wembley to watch the climax of the game's glamour knockout competition as Leeds take on Warrington, but that will be in sharp contrast to the earlier matches which were largely played in front of near-deserted grounds.
Just 5,505 watched Warrington's fifth-round tie with Bradford, while under 10,000 turned up for their semi-final against Huddersfield.
McDermott is mystified why the crowds only show up in large numbers for the final but he has no doubt the Challenge Cup is much cherished still by the players.
"For the players and the coaches and the administrators of the clubs, the cup is massive," McDermott said. "It's as big as it ever was.
"In terms of its standing within the game for the fans, I think it's clearly not as important to them.
"People don't support it by coming to the games. It used to be on everybody's calendar.
"Never mind the history, everyone wants to win the Challenge Cup every year. Why the fans don't support as much as they did I'm not sure."
McDermott, who as a player lost twice with Bradford at Wembley before becoming a cup winner at Murrayfield in 2000, is hoping to become first British coach to lift the trophy in the last 25 years.
Only John Kear, with Sheffield Eagles and Hull, and Bradford's Brian Noble have won the competition since Malcolm Reilly was in charge when Castleford defeated Hull KR at Wembley in 1986.
The competition has been dominated by a trio of overseas coaches over the last seven years, with former Leeds boss Tony Smith winning it twice with Warrington, Daniel Anderson completing a hat-trick with St Helens and Wigan's Michael Maguire lifting the trophy 12 months ago.