AS Good as it Gets, the Story of St Helens’ Grand Slam Class of 2006, is probably a good book to read as we approach the play-offs.
Saints have not won at Old Trafford since that landmark year in which they took out all the pots available – and the book is a reflective look back at what it took to scale such heights.
Coach Daniel Anderson, Paul Wellens, Jon Wilkin, Ade Gardner, James Roby and Apollo Perelini are among those who have their say on what was a momentous season.
In fact the words of Anderson – in interviews as the events happened and in look back pieces – run all the way through it. Here he encapsulates the season: “In 2006 we sensed it,” said Daniel Anderson.
“We were very disappointed with way 2005 had finished – but we knew why with the major injuries to key players.
“My first off-season allowed me to stamp my own personality on that team. Credit has to go to Eamonn McManus, too, in that he allowed us to acquire Francis Meli, Jason Cayless and Leon Pryce. They were three massive signings and in general the boys at St Helens were already a top class unit.”
Although Saints won the Challenge Cup and League Leaders’ Shield, 2006 would have been a resounding failure had they come up short in the Grand Final. It was never in doubt – although Anderson looked as nervous as anyone leading them out under a shower of rockets at Old Trafford.
“I was blown away, the noise just lifted me off the ground, it was that big. I was apprehensive, probably because we were easily the best team. That’s all that it was. You carry expectations and when you are overwhelming favourites it is sometimes relief more than enjoyment when you get the result.
“The stars aligned for us that year. The team took advantage of a great roster, great support from front office, good coaches, brilliant players and tremendous support from fans. There are going to be teams that go through history that are remarkable – it is unique and does not happen much and they should be applauded as opposed to compared to what followed.
“It is the best year that I have been involved with in a professional way, the best team I have ever coached in my career, even though I have enjoyed all the teams I have coached. But you are going to get special teams and special moments. Everyone is going to say ‘I remember that year!’ “I loved my time at Saints and you always look fondly back at the memories you have. They are great memories.”
As Good As It Gets, written by Mike Critchley, is priced £11.99 and on sale at Saints Superstore and Wardleworths.
Publisher Vertical Editions has three copies to give away. To be in with a chance of winning one simply answer this question?
Which player does Daniel Anderson describe as the best player he has ever coached?
Send your answer, including your name, address and phone number to Newsquest Promotions and Events Department, 23a Hardshaw Street, St Helens, WA10 1RT.
Deadline for entries is September 12.
Usual Newsquest rules apply, log on to www.newsquest.co.uk/terms for full details.