In the latest of our new preview series for the 2022 season, Getting To Know, Josh takes an in-depth look at our hosts at Heywood Road this Sunday, the Swinton Lions.
2022 SEASON SO FAR
Looking for an immediate return to the Championship, the Swinton Lions have been amongst the frontrunners throughout the season to date.
Beginning their League 1 campaign a fortnight later with a thrashing of West Wales just two months after doing the same in the Challenge Cup, a bright start and year was tipped for Swinton.
Things appeared to be firing on all cylinders for the Lions as they continued to both win and score points at a canter, following their 82 against West Wales up with 54 against Midlands Hurricanes and 64 against Doncaster.
But the scourge of the Crusaders would find them in the league as well as the cup as they were defeated to inflict their first loss of the new season with a second following the week after at the hands of the Cougars.
However, this has been followed with a run of 9 wins in 10 games despite at times fighting injuries and suspensions.
With Liam Forsyth following Will Hope in leaving due to work commitments, and the departures of Jose Kenga and Ben Heyes elsewhere, Allan Coleman has had to do things the hard way.
Since their loss to the Cougars in the reverse fixture in April, Swinton’s only defeat has been a home loss to Doncaster which saw the side collapse after a bright start saw them race into what appeared to be a comfortable lead.
Other victories of note saw a home wins against Rochdale and a spirited Midlands side, whilst also defeating Hunslet comfortably in their final trip across the Pennines in May.
Last week saw a 53-22 victory away from home in an ill-tempered derby game against the Rochdale Hornets. Dan Abram inspired with two tries and ten conversions.
But despite being depleted by a lengthy injury list, Swinton are always a dangerous opponent and will fancy their chances at home of being the first team to knock off the Cougars this year.
Now into the back end of his first full season as Head Coach of the Lions, Allan Coleman is tasked with masterminding the clubs immediate return to the Championship come the end of the season next month.
Replacing now Oldham coach Stuart Littler at Heywood Road midway through last season, relegation was all but confirmed allowing Coleman to implement his own stamp on the club and side immediately.
Beginning his coaching career in the community game, Allan had a highly successful period in charge of the Leigh Miners Rangers and enjoyed success as the coach of the England Community Lions.
Moving into the professional game ahead of the 2019 season, he initially joined the Lions as Assistant Coach to Stuart Littler.
The Lions defied expectations that season, securing a comfortable midtable finish in a year that saw them pick up memorable results throughout such as an away victory at promotion chasing Toulouse Olympique.
After the pandemic cancelled the 2020 season, the 2021 season proved to be a troublesome one for Swinton as the club would lose 14 consecutive games at the start of the Championship season.
During this run, Littler departed the club and Allan stepped into the fold initially as caretaker coach.
But after masterminding the clubs first win of the year against Dewsbury, and following it up with a draw against Oldham, the decision was taken by the Lions board to appoint him as permanent coach on a contract until the end of this season.
And after keeping the nucleus of his squad together for the League One campaign, a solid start to 2022 has Swinton on the right track heading into the business end of the season.
Despite injuries and work commitments at times depleting his squad, he has kept the side on the winning trail with the Lions currently 3rd heading into the final 5 games of the year.
2022 SQUAD NUMBERS: 1 – Dan Abram; 2 – Mike Butt; 4 – Max Roberts; 5 – Richard Lepori; 6 – Lewis Else; 7 – Jack Hansen; 9 – Luke Waterworth; 10 – Lewis Hatton; 11 – Rhodri Lloyd; 12 – Mitch Cox; 13 – Nick Gregson; 14 – Matty Wilkinson; 15 – Billy Brickhill; 16 – Louis Brogan; 17 – Jack Spencer; 18 – Paddy Jones; 20 – Deane Meadows; 23 – Jordan Case; 24 – Jordan Brown; 25 – Lewis Charnock; 28 – Jayden Hatton; 30 – George Roby; 31 – Max Kirkbright
TRANSFERS IN: Max Roberts (Oldham RLFC); Matty Wilkinson (Oldham RLFC); Dan Abram (Oldham RLFC); Jack Spencer (Oldham RLFC); Lewis Else (Widnes Vikings); Jordan Case (Widnes Vikings); Lewis Charnock (Oldham RLFC); Jayden Hatton (Leigh Centurions)
LOANS IN: George Roby (Huddersfield Giants); Max Kirkbright (Hull Kingston Rovers)
TRANSFERS OUT: Luis Roberts (Leigh Centurions); Geronimo Doyle (Whitehaven); Sam Brooks (Barrow Raiders); Martyn Ridyard (Oldham RLFC); Paul Nash (North Wales Crusaders); Jose Kenga (Doncaster RLFC); Cobi Green (Rochdale Hornets); Reece Hamlett (Rochdale Mayfield); Ben Heyes (Thatto Heath Crusaders); Will Hope (Work Commitments); Dan Clare (Released); Liam Forsyth (Released); Tayler Brown (Retired)
ONE TO WATCH
A player in inspired form so far in 2022 for Swinton has been Dan Abram.
One a handful of players recruited from fellow relegated side Oldham ahead of this year, Abram has been amongst the points all season for the Lions whether that be from the boot or with his try-scoring prowess.
Tearing it up at full-back, the son of former Swinton player Darren has become the main focus point of the side as they look to secure an immediate return to the Championship.
A product of the famed St Helens academy, Abram would quickly become a regular name across the semi-professional game in the northwest.
Originally signing with the Barrow Raiders, he was a part of the club’s 2017 promotion and League 1 Cup double winning side before joining fellow Cumbrians Whitehaven.
A breakout year would follow at the Recreation Ground as he kicked winning conversions in both derby matches against Workington Town before returning to Lancashire with the Rochdale Hornets.
Unable to prevent the Hornets relegation from the Championship, Dan would feature regularly for the club before departing after the drop to join their arch-rivals Oldham in order to remain in the second tier.
Featuring in all the Roughyeds games following promotion prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he would continue to be a regular for the club after the sports return last year.
However, he would again be unable to prevent a relegation to the third tier and with Stuart Littler opting to rebuild the Oldham squad, Dan would become one of five players to saw the red and white for the blue and white of Swinton.
And he has never looked back, currently topping the divisional goalscoring charts heading into the final five games after a superb season to date with the Lions.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS (LAST FIVE MEETINGS ONLY)
24th April 2022: Keighley Cougars 30-0 Swinton Lions
13th March 2022: Keighley Cougars 22-42 Swinton Lions
4th October 2015: Keighley Cougars 28-29 Swinton Lions
19th July 2015: Keighley Cougars 14-22 Swinton Lions
17th May 2015: Swinton Lions 29-16 Keighley Cougars
By Joshua Chapman