True to form and in line with the way that last season turned out for him, ‘bitter sweet’ continued to be the theme for Michael McIlorum’s most recent RL related endeavours…
..at least on the pitch.
The Warriors were without their first choice hooker, for yesterday’s pre-season friendly at Leigh Sports Village against local rivals and Super League new boys Leigh Centurions.
He did however, proudly lead the team that he has served for the last ten years out onto the pitch for what was his Testimonial game in front of a most decent pre-season crowd of Leigh and Wigan faithful. Bitter too was the weather, but that didn’t prevent home and away fans getting behind their teams as they hammered away at each other with no punches pulled, love lost nor ground given. The score being 12-10 to the Centurions at half-time.
Shaun Wane used the second-half as an opportunity to blood academy youngsters and new signings alike and, the experience and tenacity that saw Leigh deservedly promoted last season to the Super League started to prove itself. By full-time Leigh were worthy winners and fully deserved their second-half dominance and forty point final margin.
As a member of Micky’s testimonial committee and, having supported the activities leading up to this first event of his testimonial year, I, along with bd2 colleagues and clients was there to support him for his day off the pitch in the Premier Club Lounge.
The room was packed, as were the numerous private boxes that line the main stand and, everyone I spoke to throughout the day, spoke with high regard for the lad from Yorkshire who has made Wigan his home and the Warriors his extended family. Indeed, the sport of Rugby League can be proud of itself in my view, as yet again, the people involved are by nature, big-hearted and generous when it comes to looking after ‘one of their own’.
To refer to this as a corporate event is to do it an injustice.
Legends of the game, both past and present turned up and turned out for Micky. Ex Wigan and Great Britain full-back Steve Hampson and winger Henderson Gill told tales from their playing days and Wigan Head Coach Shaun Wane and current Wigan skipper Sean O’loughlin equally heaped praise (and jibes) on Micky, referring to him as “the most fearsome competitor” as well as being “a bit of a bell”.
Fans of the player and friends of the man dropped cash in the coffers as player jerseys and memorabilia was snapped up frame by autographed frame.
Finally, Micky himself took to the stage.
Sky Sports pundit and ex Wigan man Terry O’Connor questioned him about his career and reminisced with him about their time on tour together with Ireland. To demonstrate the maturity of Micky and show just how far he has come from his exuberant and arguably ‘uncultured’ younger days Terry asked “The young lad I dragged out of the pub, the night before the game, only to learn he’d then nipped to the offy for more booze instead of going to bed all those years ago…what’s different now Micky…with Micky the man?” Micky’s reply was, as I’ve come to expect, quietly confident, dry, yet direct and as honest as the day is long… “Nowt much really.”
The truth is that Micky Mac, as he is affectionately referred to, epitomises the nature of Rugby League. On the playing side of the whitewash “he is a ruthless, nasty lunatic” (Shaun Wane’s words), yet on the other, he is a quiet, calm, generous gentleman with a kind nature, wry sense of humour and big heart.
There are many more events over the coming year that we at bd2 along with the other amazing testimonial committee members are working hard to support. There are many ways that businesses can get involved to support Micky and thank him for his service to the sport of Rugby League, for his entertaining and uncompromising style of play and to celebrate with him his career so far.
You’ll be made most welcome by all those already in the RL family.