Building the dream
Angela Powers finds out how Salford Reds are taking a step closer to realising their dreams.
Last Updated: 11/05/11 5:04pm
I get those 'goose-bump' moments rarely. It usually happens only when I hear Abba sing Dancing Queen, but in the last week it has happened twice and on both occasions it was rugby-league-stadium related.
The first was in Montpellier when I walked into the playing arena of the Stade Yves Du Manoir. Wow. The hairs prickled on my arms as my eyes swept around the perimeter, following the undulating waves of the roofline. Gorgeous.
Wigan Warriors play their league game against Catalan Dragons there in June, and spectators really are in for a treat.
The second time was closer to home and was a surprisingly emotional moment.
For the last decade the Salford City Reds have been building a dream, but for many of those years it seemed like it would always remain just that. It began as one of the most ambitious projects that rugby league would ever see, but has been gradually downscaled and down-sized.
Until a few months ago, even that looked like it would never happen and the RFL warned Salford that if they wanted a licence to compete in Super League for three more years they'd have to do something far more concrete than shift around piles of earth with a digger.
But that patch of dirt under Barton Bridge near the Trafford Centre has been transformed. The skeleton of a stand that will eventually become the grand focal point of the City of Salford Community Stadium has risen from the ground, and it looks mightily impressive.
This week, I got my first close-up look at that stand, in the company of the club chairman John Wilkinson OBE. He isn't a man to over enthuse or spout emotional rhetoric, but as I watched him pace across what will be the 750-seater Grand Dining Room to gaze out over what will be the pitch, I sensed a mixture of relief, pride and incredulity. I have interviewed him many times on the subject of the stadium - this was the first time I had interviewed him standing in the stadium. You can see his reaction in the interview linked here.
In a few weeks' time we will find out which clubs will get a licence for 2012 to 2014, and Salford now are tinglingly close to ticking the 'stadium' box in the list of criteria. And John Wilkinson is more than a few concrete and steel steps closer to realising a very personal dream.