Yesterday in his final game in charge, former Warrington Wolves star Simon Grix watched on as his Halifax Panthers side lost to Swinton Lions in one of the biggest shocks of the season meaning the Panthers missed out on the play-offs and a chance at Super League promotion.
It did ensure that Swinton could stay afloat in the league condemning Keighley Cougars to relegation but the bigger tale was the fact that 1895 Cup winners Halifax wouldn’t be competing in the playoffs.
After the game, Grix, who is expected to join Hull FC, spoke to Serious ABout Rugby League about the game, the season as a whole, the club and his time at Halifax overall.
When asked how he was feeling, Grix said: “Pretty flat, gutted to be honest. It has been an up and down year and I’ve said time and time again in many an interview and many a changing room that you end up getting what you deserve, and I think today we probably dished up a good summary of our season.
“We were good for parts, very good for parts, but just not doing it for long enough. Whether that’s a concentration thing, I’m not sure but we have got what we deserve. Swinton were great.
“Knowing that it was in our hands is the bit that makes it a bit more of a kick in the gut. We spoke during the week that making sure our reason for prolonging our season was greater than theirs. I know that sounds silly because survival or just getting in play-offs, it’s a bit different there but getting desperate about getting that extra week.
“We’ve had a crap year from the outside looking in, that’s what a lot of people think and don’t mind saying, that’s our fans as well and we’ve won the 1895 which brings it’s challenges, no weekends off, get kind of sick of each other by the end of it I think.
“If we’d have got in the playoffs, it would have been great. Playoffs and an 1895 cup win in one season is pretty big for a part-time club I think. But it’s gone, not to be, it’s not the end of the world.
“This club is in good hands and it’s probably helped Finny (Liam Finn, incoming head coach) a little bit as well because next year all he’s got to do is get the sixth and then everyone will be happy about it.”
Asked about what went wrong this year, he went into detail after Halifax had previously showed huge potential, beating league leaders’ Featherstone twice, one of which was in the Challenge Cup.
Adding to his previous comments, Grix continued: “Other than that I think some of those problems them from last year, we didn’t get to market till late so evidently with the people that left the club for a number of reasons we didn’t get recruitment.
“So some lessons definitely to be learned there, that hurt us, and within that, losing Keysey (Joe Keyes) and not having the ability, because no money at the club, no ability to go out and go and buy a like for like half so we had to sort of make do.”
He did suggest that the players had let him down, knowing that the results had not matched the ability or capability of the players within a squad that looked more than capable of reaching the play-offs.
“I’ve said on record before, I think our job as a staff is to prepare them the best we can and when they go out and play it’s how they transfer that preparation to performance,” said Grix.
“Now I won’t get into an ‘us versus them’, but I think we’ve done a pretty good job of making sure they’ve got the information. Physically they’re in good nick, 26 bodies available this week which shows they’re not in a bad place physically.
“For me it’s literally a between the ears thing that you need to work out because you could well find yourself in a very tight championship next year again and certain players, certain positions, key roles in the team are gonna have to do a better job if they want to actually reach what they’re capable of.”
Despite the disappointment on the pitch, Grix claimed the club are in a better place now than before he arrived, stating that the club need significant investment if they want to be serious about reaching Super League.
“Yeah definitely I think we have the club in a better place,” he said. “It’s hard to say without saying too much I suppose, I think we’re not far off that ceiling for a part time Championship team without a significant backer.
“We’ve got people who are propping this team up and are doing a great job but probably get slagged from pillar to post because we’re not signing the biggest names.
“This club is very hard to run. It looks nice on the outside but inside it’s got the same struggles that every other championship club’s got and unfortunately we don’t have that one multi-millionaire, lottery winner or a businessman who’s able to push us on to that next step.
“I think as a performance team we’ve exhausted, I think I’ve exhausted myself and our team have worked really hard, the lads have worked really hard and we’ve got into that position where we should be a guaranteed top six team every year.
“But what happens beyond that, I’m sure they’ll bounce back next year and jump up in there but there’s a gulf isn’t there between Toulouse, Featherstone and other teams.
“Sheffield have got someone throwing significant money at it. London have always had the same backer in the background. Teams just seem to find that support and we haven’t got it.
“Unless we get 5,000 through the gate every week, which will change your finances, then the answer is finding that significant influx of cash from somewhere that knocks you on to the next one.
“I think we’ve done the best of what we’ve got, which I think is the best you can do, I suppose. It’s been great, the club have been great for me. It’s been a really good learning curve and I won’t change any of it, to be fair because otherwise I wouldn’t have learnt the lessons I’ve had along the way.
“But I think as a club, there’s a lot of expectation around it, and rightly so, to a degree. But when you put logic on paper, the expectation doesn’t match up with reality and that’ll always be a problem until you’re actually in a position where you can get to reality.”