Barrow Raiders enjoyed a very impressive 2022 campaign in the Betfred Championship finishing fourth in their first season back in rugby league’s second tier.
Paul Crarey coached the side to an impressive play-off berth, an achievement that earned them the Betfred Championship Club of the Year award.
Barrow won League One during the shortened season in 2021, securing automatic promotion to the Championship, but they were fancied to do little more than scrap for relegation in their first season.
They stunned the rest of the league spearheaded by now St Helens star Tee Ritson and former Hull FC man Hakim Miloudi outwide as well as former Bradford Bulls and Wigan Warriors halfback Jarrod Sammutt.
However, that campaign was the just the first stepping stone on the journey that Raiders are taking with Crarey. He reflected on the season in comments made on the club’s site.
“The club’s journey and what we set out to do is so impressive. We’ve grown the crowd, with huge efforts from Steve Neale (chairman) and the board.
“After everything we’ve put in place, to win Club of the Year and Coach of the Year shows what a journey it has been.”
Hungry for more in 2023 💪
Read the post-season thoughts of the boss by clicking here ⬇️
— Barrow Raiders (@BarrowRaiders) December 1, 2022
Barrow won plenty of games but they showed their credentials as genuine second tier contenders when they pushed the now Leigh Leopards all the way in round 13 as they fought back from 18-0 down to succumb 30-28 to the superb then Centurions.
Crarey or ‘Cresta’ as he’s known has been with Raiders since 2014 and has revealed that the secret weapon for his side has been the development of youth.
Homegrown talent and northern grit is prominent within the squad and a key focus for the boss as he commented on the impact of that young talent last season.
“The big thing for us is we’ve found a lot of our own players, “ Crarey explained: “I’ve watched them go from boys to men.
“We’ve got to farm our own players. We won at Batley last season with 12 local players in the side, and when I came there was only one local player getting on the team bus, so we’ve turned that around and put pride into the shirt.”
Whilst success on the field and in the league looks imminent Crarey referenced the impact that his side have had off the pitch.
“I always say coaching Barrow Raiders is not about winning or losing – it’s about the community.
“We’ve built bridges in the communities, with 20+ people on our coaching programme and over 180 kids signed up to the JETS programme.
“It’s not about the awards or the league position. For me, it’s about everything else that’s associated with the club, and where we’ve got to as a club and as a group.
“That’s what I’m proud about. I’m not proud because we won games; you get accolades because you win games, but it’s not what you achieve.”
You can find all his comments here on the club’s site.