www.batleybulldogs.co.uk caught up with the club's new signing Vinny Finigan on Wednesday evening.
Following that epic Grand Final clash on Sunday which saw the Bulldogs go toe-to-toe with the Sheffield Eagles, news of our first new signing had more than a dash of irony about it as the club moved to secure the services of a player that had helped the Eagles get to the final, only to miss out for the second successive year, yet latest Bulldog Vinny was reflective about his absence: "Well, I didn't miss out because we were playing my new club in the final! There was no mention of why I wasn't selected - I asked the coach if I'd done anything wrong and he said I couldn't have done much more to be selected. It's two Grand Finals in a row I've missed now, but I didn't feel like I was given a valid reason for not being selected, so that was a real disappointment."
Despite missing out on the game itself, Finigan was obviously in the Eagles camp for the last time on Sunday, and was suitably impressed with his new club's performance. "It was an exciting game and for obvious reasons I was a bit on the fence. One thing I did notice was Batley's first-half completion rate, which was amazing, and they had a brilliant first half. However, having spent quite some time at Sheffield, I know that they just don't let up and they completed 22 out of 24 sets in the second half. Those stats speak for themselves and were one of the main reasons the Eagles won. But Batley's achievement was amazing after those wins at Leigh and Featherstone. Three years ago, Sheffield lost heavy in the Grand Final, but they kicked on from there and look what happened. Batley can do the same and I'm looking forward to being part of that."
So, after three years at Sheffield, Vinny has swapped the south Riding for the west, and was asked, "Why Batley?". He provided a positive answer to that question. "Ah, they're a good club and I just fancied coming over here. Obviously John Kear was a big draw and I know a few of the guys here and all I'd heard was good and positive things. Leaving Sheffield was emotional man, I met some great guys there but I wasn't playing and wasn't getting picked. I thought that when I played I played well, but just wasn't getting game time. But I'm at Batley now and I'm just looking forward to getting into the club, impressing everyone and fighting for my place in the team!"
Vinny has many friends in and around the Batley club both those staying and departing and this clearly had some influence on his arrival. "Yeah I know a few guys. I played with George Flanagan and Paul Mennell in my Bradford days and obviously I know Alex (Rowe) well - he's a close friend of mine. I also go back a long way with Miles (Greenwood) - we used to knock about together in our amateur days at Oldham (Vinny stops here to say he's an Oldham boy and not Pontefract as reported on Wikipedia and our website yesterday!) alongside Kyle Eastmond, who is Miles' cousin. It's good knowing some of the guys but wherever you go, you must earn the respect of your team-mates and that's my first job at Batley. After a few games, I'm sure I'll settle in and I'm looking forward to Boxing Day against Dewsbury already to try and get a bit of game time like all the lads. It's a bit like being back at school, starting again, but I'm looking for a good pre-season with lots of fitness training."
After coming so close to the title in 2013, Vinny has a very positive outlook for 2014: "I 100% see potential for honours here. I signed quite a while ago, before the club reached the Grand Final, but the potential was already obvious. Having JK as a coach is a massive boost and some of the players being brought in together with what we already have here is creating a massive buzz for everyone involved. We need to go one better next year and that means winning it!"
Finigan's respect for John Kear is evident and he was enthusiastic about working under the Bulldogs coach: "His record is amazing and under him, if you play good, you play. He has no favourites and I think that's something I've fallen foul of at previous clubs sometimes as it really works against you. He's obviously a highly respected coach and was one of the big reasons I wanted to sign for the club. I'd spoken to Rowey too, and he said it was a great time to join the Bulldogs so here I am!"
Finally, Vinny was bowled over by the support he's had from the Bulldog fans on social media since his signing was announced and he wanted to convey a message to the Batley faithful: "Yeah, I'd like to thank the fans for their amazing support already. I will try my hardest to prove myself and have a good season and I know they'll all get behind the club as we push on next season."
Vinny Finigan was in conversation with Mark Ward.
Follow him on twitter @v1nnyf.