Feature Interview: Shayne McMenemy

Feature Interview: Shayne McMenemy

In the latest of our ex-player feature interviews, we catch up with former Black & White fans-favourite Shayne McMenemy to discuss his memories of the 2005 Challenge Cup run.

Club News

In the latest of our ex-player feature interviews, we catch up with former Black & White fans-favourite Shayne McMenemy to discuss his memories of the 2005 Challenge Cup run.

The former Western Suburbs player joined the club mid-way through the 2003 season, and became a key cog in a threatening pack which featured the likes of Craig Greenhill, Gareth Carvell, Sean Ryan and Gareth Carvell.

Disappointing not to achieve success with the side during his first two seasons, determination was high going into the 2005 campaign, under new head coach John Kear.

Speaking to hullfc.com about the state of the squad going into 2005, McMenemy said: “I remember there being a really great camaraderie in the camp going into that season. We had a lot of young local players in the squad who were coming of age, with the likes of Paul Cooke and Richard Horne showing us around the park, and Kirk Yeaman in the backs who was so influential in attack for us.

“We brought in Stephen Kearney for that season who brought a lot of experience and leadership – he was the type of person who led by example. His did a lot of one-on-one stuff with the forwards and he knew how to get the best out of everyone else around him.”

On his relationship with new the new head coach, he added: “I had a really good relationship with John Kear and I loved playing under him. He gave us some real direction as our coach, and used that experience of taking Sheffield to the Cup Final in 1998 – he knew how to get us up for them big one-off must-win games.

“It was probably the best year I had playing Rugby League and he really contributed to that. He just let us get on with playing footy and gave us some real freedom on the park. He made our goal the Challenge Cup that season, and he set out to succeed in that competition from the very start.”

And McMenemy explained that due to the club underachieving in 2003 and 2004, an emotion expressed by both Richie Barnett and Jason Smith in previous exclusive interviews with hullfc.com, the determination was high amongst the squad

“I’d agree with that. Jason and Richie were actually one of the reasons why I decided to join the club when I got offered the opportunity in 2003. I jumped at the chance to play alongside players like that, as well as Craig Greenhill and a few others. But both seasons we had a heap of injuries at crucial times, and that really affected our chances of succeeding.

“It halted our momentum in aiming to push on through those finals. We had a very young squad and when you lose those senior boys like Jason Smith with those leadership skills, it tends to affect their quality on the field so it made us dip. Those seasons made us more determined to win something in 2005.”

McMenemy also described the excitement of the new additions to the squad, inclduing Richard Swain who began to play some of his best rugby in 2005.

“Swainy was the ultimate professional. Every training session he turned up with a great mentality, and he looked after himself really well on the field. He came into his stride in 2005 and really started to show his leadership qualities. Him, alongside a few of them other new faces that season increased that desire to achieve.

“One of the first things you want to do when you join a new club is earn the respect of your teammates and keep them on their toes. Adding the likes of Nathan Blacklock and Motu Tony was what we needed – two real quality players who just added a little bit more to our backs.”

Shayne McMenemy (left) and John Kear.

Looking back at the run to the Challenge Cup Final, McMenemy explained: “I remember the Bradford game really well. We got off to a great start and they fought back in the second-half. We knew they were going to throw a lot at us as they were a really strong side right across the board. They had the likes of Robbie Paul, Iyestin Harris, Lesley Vinakolo, Lee Radford, Stuart Fielding – a superb side, and we’re lucky that we were at home, because I think the crowd really saw us through that day!

“Then in the semi-final, I was fortunate enough to get a couple of tries that day – it was a really special occasion and one that really sticks in my mind. We got a police escort to the ground because the crowd coming in was so big. I remember sitting on the bus with the headphones on – we had a strong sense of confidence. You look around the room and you know everyone is ready. Saints were a great team back then and this game was like a final to us.

“The match itself – it was pretty tight at half-time, but we felt the momentum in the game turn with about 15 minutes to go and we ran away with it. I can’t remember what the completion rate was but I think it was around 90%, which is ridiculous in any level of footy. John Kear said it was the most perfect game of footy he has been involved in. Every single player played their role that day, and it was no easy opposition against a side with about 13 internationals in there. Ultimately you have to beat the best to be the best – it is the best way to win the Challenge Cup.

McMenemy explained that the performances against Bradford and Saints mean that confidence was high as Hull looked towards their Cardiff final.

“Confidence remained high going into the final and we kept that belief that we could and would do it. I remember being around the hotel in the few days before and you could feel the confidence – it wasn’t cockiness, it was belief. We weren’t going to let Leeds take that trophy and we felt it was our destiny.

“That team meeting the night was really intense and emotional. We had Lee Crooks presenting the jerseys to us and it was one of those meetings where it became clear what it meant to everybody. Standing up and telling everyone what it meant to you was pretty raw – for me personally, being a young kid in Australia, I always wanted to play in finals like this. There was a few tears and you could see how much it meant to the local kids in particular.”

On the day of the Challenge Cup Final itself, he continued: “The noise as we went out to warm-up before the game was spine-tingling, it really gave me goose-bumps. I remember Steve Crooks saying to us during Captain’s Run at the ground the day before not to take it for granted because you’ll blink and the next thing you know, you’re ten years in the future. It was a blur to me really as it went by so fast. The little moments that stand-out are those moments towards the end of the game where we had to roll the dice.

“I remember Cookie was going to put a kick into the corner, but somebody charged at him so he tipped the ball onto me instead. I put a kick in and managed to earn another set from the drop-out. We obviously made our way up the field in that next set of six. Rich Horne faked to go one side and came back the other way and hit Cookie. He dummied to me and the biggest gap opened up that he went through to score. I remember charging over to him and I was the first guy there when he put it down. Broughy was never going to miss the kick from there and that was the game!

“As a team, we had some bloody good celebrations that night, but we had to get up really early to get back to Hull for the celebrations the next day. We got on the open top bus and I was doing an interview with Gwylim Lloyd from Radio Humberside and I literally couldn’t hear him – it was so noisy! It was such a proud feeling and I was so glad to be a part of it.”

You can watch our 2005 Challenge Cup Round 5 game against Bradford Bulls tonight on our Facebook page from 8.10pm