One of the longest serving yet suffering clubs in the game has to be the Swinton Lions, who recently completed their season with great struggle.
With off-field activities not only threatening to not only re-name them but also questioning their very existence, the Lions have recently been placed in special measures as a result.
All of what has gone on has sparked arguments between supporters, staff and players alike which has arguably dampened what has been a rather strong season performed on the field.
Last season saw them not only finish as high as ninth but also record their highest amount of points in the Betfred Championship since gaining promotion four seasons ago.
The ones responsible deserve praise for turning around what was a forgettable 2018 season as we look back at 2019 where the club will hope of not only can they survive but also returning stronger.
Best Result: Toulouse Olympique 18-20 Swinton Lions
No doubt about it, their best win of the season has to be when they travelled to France and stunned the league runners-up Toulouse Olympique 20-18.
Toulouse led 14-4 at half-time thanks to tries from Stan Robin, Tony Maurel and Anthony Marion initially cancelled out Rhodri Lloyd’s effort for the Lions.
But then Liam Paisley heroically stepped up and bagged a second half hat-trick of tries, two of which were converted by Jack Hansen, meaning Paul Marcon’s unconverted effort was not enough to salvage anything for the hosts.
Swinton held on to clinch a famous victory in what was arguably the biggest shock of the season.
Remarkable stuff from Stuart Littler’s outfit, highlighting how unpredictable our great game can be, no matter what is occurring!
Worst Result: Sheffield Eagles 64-10 Swinton Lions
They could not have started the season any worse as for round one, they travelled to Sheffield Eagles and sustained a 64-10 hammering!
The game was over by half-time for the Lions as the Eagles ran in six first half tries through Olly Davies, Ryan Millar, James Glover, Josh Guzdek, Corey Makelim and Joel Farrell.
Ryan Gray got Swinton up and running early in the second half but the Eagles soon stormed back.
Anthony Thackeray bagged four tries in the second half, with Ben Blackmore touching down plus Millar adding his second late on.
Billy Brickhill scored a late consolation for the Lions but they were long tamed by an impressive Eagles outfit.
Sheffield would go on to have a rather terrific season but conceding 60+ points at such a level between two part-time clubs, there should be no excuses.
Regardless, Swinton would ease to relegation survival and maybe the result laid down areas of improvement that helped towards it as well as fear of repeating it!
Main Man: Matty Ashton
Possibly a surprising choice is utility back Matty Ashton.
Ashton signed from amateur side Rochdale Mayfield at the end of 2018 and since arriving at the club has certainly known his way to the try line.
Having scored over 20 tries this season, Ashton has assisted in keeping Swinton’s attack dangerous as they have troubled plenty of opposition throughout this season.
Quite a step up, from amateur to facing a handful of full-time clubs but with how strong he has gone, plenty of applause where it is due and hopefully more from him.
Predicted 13th – Finished 9th
They certainly defied expectations as they somehow managed a ninth finish, despite facing difficulties internally as well as externally.
But in rugby league, never say die, as Swinton eased from relegation for the fourth year in a row.
Led by Littler, who has bags of experience and talent when he played, Swinton recorded some impressive results and, had they had the ‘rub of the green’ more, could well have finished higher.
But the biggest question is, will they be in existence in 2020?! Followed by others such as if so, will they remain Swinton or be rebranded Manchester?!
So many questions, unanswered for now as the game will hope one of his oldest clubs remains afloat for the foreseeable future!