March 29, 2013 by Matthew Bradley
Easter Monday means one thing, nothing to do with Jesus, it means the Guardian Cup final.
The final this season sees Greenalls face Runcorn Albion, a traditional 11 o’clock kick off fixture. The final of the Guardian Cup is a test of all sides local to Warrington, and reaching a final has been an achievement for Greenalls. Reaching the final won’t be enough for a highly competitive side however, the Greens go into the final with one objective, bringing silverwear back to Long Lane.
Runcorn Albion will go into the game as underdogs, with Greenalls being the high league opposition, Jon Shakeshaft believes respecting Runcorn is vital. “Underestimating Runcorn Albion would be a grave error of judgement, as on the day of a final the label favourites means nothing. However we have the players with experience of dealing with pressure in a final, who have the mental strength needed to rise above the occassion and play their normal game”.
A reason not to underestimate Runcorn is the first hand experience of playing against them a two seasons ago, said assistant manager Jimmy Bush. “They’re a good side. We know what they’re about. We played them two years ago and won 3-1, but it was a very, very tight game. Their team today, much like ours, hasn’t altered massively. They have impressive forwards and are solid everywhere really. We’re confident though that if we can be at our best we can win it.
One reason Greenalls are favourites is due to the amount of high level experience the squad has, with players such as Mark Hughes familiar with playing at high level. Shakeshaft believes the experience is ‘invaluable’. “Yes, I believe the experience is invaluable as those players will be able to guide players who haven’t experienced a game of this magnitude and aid the younger group of players at the club through what will be a test of character”
Greenalls have a glorious history in the Guardian Cup, which could serve to motivate the team to match the heights that great Greenalls teams of the past reached. Bush believes the side’s experience in the tournament will be important;” The fact we have experience in the final of this competition should stand us in good stead. He also believes the confidence boost a final birth can benefit league form. “The motivation of reaching the final should hopefully push us on to move up the league and hopefully get a top four finish”.
Shakeshaft put emphesis on the meaning of such a prestigious game to the players, and how a victory would be an incredible moment for the squad. “As a collective it would be a great achievement to win the most prestigious cup in Warrington. After our drip in performance in the league we feel a Guardian Cup win would be paramount to ensuring a successful season. Bush echos Shakeshaft’s sentiments on what a final victory would mean to the club. “A lot!. After our awful league form through the end of last year it would be just the boost we need. We love the Guardian Cup and have a long history in it”.
A final will also inevitable mean players stepping up their game, this is the same for defensive maestro Shakeshaft. “As this final personally means a lot to me, as well as the club, I will be meticulous to prepare for this game so that I can perform to my higher capability, to assist the club and the conquest to glory.
The league form for Greenalls has not been ideal, and will not go down as a classic Greens league campaign. Bush wrapped things up by declaring that the season does not need saving with the final. “The season doesn’t really need saving in my opinion. We are where we are because we haven’t performed in games where we needed it. That is improving and will continue to improve. Whatever we end the season with is exactly what we deserve. The cup final however is a great reward to the lads for the work they’ve put in. They deserve this day and they will do us proud”.