Castleford Tigers have been a bit of a quandary in the Super League era.
From the highs of 1999 to the lows of 2004 and 2006, the Tigers have since established themselves as a stable Super League side, almost winning the Grand Final in 2017.
In the 25 years of the summer game, Castleford have had 11 head coaches with Lee Radford the current man in charge after taking over from Daryl Powell whose reign lasted almost nine years. But, how would they be ranked?
10. Ian Millward
The less said about Ian Millward at Castleford the better. After successful spells at St Helens and Leigh, Millward was targeted as the man to take over from Terry Matterson. Unfortunately, just six wins in 25 games later and the now 60-year-old was sacked. In 2014, Millward returned to Australia to coach the Illawarra Cutters NSW Cup team, but he will forever be remembered as Castleford’s worse boss in the Super League era, even if he did bring the likes of Jake Webster and Justin Carney to the club.
9. Mick Morgan
Following the departure of John Joyner in April 1997, former Featherstone Rovers star Mick Morgan was chosen as the interim coach. Now famed for his unique commentary style, Morgan lost all four games before Stuart Raper took over.
8. Graham Steadman
After being Stuart Raper’s assistant, Graham Steadman was handed the reins at the back end of 2001. Life as a head coach started quite positively, with Castleford finishing in the play-offs in 2002 and eighth in 2003. However, it all went downhill in 2004 when the Tigers failed to win any games under Steadman, with the former fullback being sacked after losing to Wakefield Trinity, 42-10 at home. It was a bitter end for a Castleford legend.
7. John Joyner
Castleford’s first Super League boss was John Joyner who had led the club to a superb 33-2 Regal Trophy victory over Wigan back in 1994. His time as Super League coach left a lot to be desired, however, finishing ninth with the Tigers in the first summer game season in 1996. And, Joyner left the club in April 1997 following five losses in a row – a sad end for a former player that had raised the standards of the West Yorkshire side.
6. Gary Mercer
It was a thankless task for Gary Mercer, taking over from Graham Steadman in April 2004. He stayed for just 21 games, but won six times – including five wins in nine towards the end of the season – with a very underwhelming squad void of confidence. Unfortunately, a 32-28 home loss to Wakefield condemned the Tigers to their first relegation in Super League with Mercer leaving at the end of the season.
5. Terry Matterson
He stayed for six seasons, but Terry Matterson’s time at Castleford was bizarre to say the least. After taking the Tigers back down to the National League in 2006, the Australian brought the club back to the big time in 2007. From there, Matterson established Castleford as a stable Super League side with one play-off position and one Challenge Cup semi-final to show for it. The former London Bronco left at the end of 2011 with a 39 percent win percentage.
4. Danny Orr
He took over for just three games with the departure of Ian Millward in 2013, but in those mere weeks, Orr restored some pride to the Castleford shirt after a terrible period. Orr won just one game from three, but he paved the way for Daryl Powell to take over and rejuvenate the Tigers.
3. Dave Woods
Dave Woods will go down in Castleford folklore for the way in which he helped the Tigers get back to Super League at the first time of asking in 2005. Though Woods failed to steer the club to Northern Rail Cup success, the Australian guided Castleford to the National League Grand Final where the Tigers thrashed Whitehaven 36-8. Of course, having legends Brad Davis, Adrian Vowles and Michael Eager in the squad gave Woods added motivation and he delivered when it mattered.
2. Stuart Raper
Joining Castleford in April 1997, Stuart Raper was at the club for four years, taking the Tigers to within 80 minutes of both the Challenge Cup and Super League finals in 1999. Another Australian, Raper guided Castleford from relegation fodder to mid-table security and then to play-off hunters. It was a miracle turnaround in such a short space of time and Raper is still highly regarded in the hearts of the club’s fans. He left in 2001 to take the reins at Wigan, citing the lack of finances at Castleford as the reason he left.
1. Daryl Powell
There can only be one winner on this list and that is Daryl Powell. From midway through 2013 to 2021, the Tigers transformed on and off the field thanks to the former Leeds and Featherstone boss. In his first full season, Powell took Castleford to the Challenge Cup Final for the first time since 1992. Then, in 2017, he did the impossible: the Tigers finished top for the first time in their history, though they lost the Grand Final. From perennial strugglers to potential Grand Final winners, the contrast from pre-Powell to the Powell times could not be starker. After his eighth full season as Tigers boss, he handed over the reins to ex-Hull FC head coach Lee Radford for 2022.