Departing Castleford boss Daryl Powell was grateful to fans for the farewell he and seven departing players received despite Thursday’s loss to Warrington.
The defeat ended Tigers’ Super League play-off hopes, bringing to a close Powell’s reign before his move to the Wolves and the Cas careers of players including captain Michael Shenton.
Fans stayed for the lap of honour and speeches from those leaving.
“It was a great send-off,” Powell said in his press conference.
“I was really pleased so many people stayed behind and the players spoke really well. Players and coaches that had given a lot of effort and commitment and sacrifice to the club.
“None more so than people like Shenny and Millo [prop Grant Millington], stalwarts who have been massive to the club.”
The Tigers’ two long-serving retirees had very different nights, with Shenton’s final match ending prematurely with a dislocated shoulder, while Millington scored a try as Cas fought back in vain from 32-0 down before losing 40-24.
Pontefract-born Shenton made more than 400 career appearances following his 2004 debut for the Tigers, but he did not finish Thursday’s game after sustaining the injury early in the second half.
“It’s so disappointing for him,” Powell said. “Fozzy [Alex Foster] did well in that second half but Shenny has that touch of class that can craft things from nothing.
“It’s disappointing to see him leave the field like that and not be able to finish how he wanted, and that’s just from being on the field until the end.”
Powell, along with two-try centre Peter Mata’utia and injured back-rower Oliver Holmes, is off to Warrington from next season to replace their current boss Steve Price, who is returning to Australia.
After eight years at the club he supported as a boy, Powell still hopes to get a decent reaction on his imminent return as a rival from 2022 onwards.
“I mentioned it tonight and the crowd started chanting a song I can’t repeat,” Powell chuckled afterwards.
“These guys [the fans] know I’ll always love this place because when you’ve been here so long you will do and I was a supporter.
“But that’s professional sport, that’s rugby league. You move to different places and then go back somewhere. I’d expect a good reception.
“They’ll want their team to win, that’s the way sport is, but you’ll still recognise the people who have given a lot to your organisation and should be respected. We’ll wait and see but hopefully that’ll be the case.”