STAR full-back James Craven has delighted Dewsbury supporters by penning a new deal to stay at the club despite attracting huge interest from elsewhere.
Craven was the Rams’ leading try scorer last season and scooped up the club’s player-of-the-year award after Sunday’s final game against Sheffield Eagles.
Just 72 hours later he agreed terms to become the first signing for new coach Glenn Morrison – although not before a few anxious moments to complete the deal.
Craven had received lucrative written offers from champions Featherstone Rovers and York City Knights, while several other clubs had shown interest but he turned them down to stay at Tetley’s Stadium.
Chairman Mark Sawyer was overjoyed, and somewhat relieved, that Craven re-signed after frantic phone calls prior to Wednesday’s Fans Forum.
Mr Sawyer said: “James had got contract offers from Featherstone and York, as well as verbal offers from other clubs and we are over the moon that he has re-signed for Dewsbury.
“James is a proper Dewsbury lad and we are delighted that he is staying at Dewsbury.
“We brought James back from obscurity and he is a big part in the team and if he continues to progress he may go on to play at a higher level.
“We had to move quickly to sign him and I think he is more popular than our new coach,” Mr Sawyer joked after Craven received rapturous applause having re-signed.
However, there was mixed emotions as Steve Crossley, Ayden Faal and George Flanagan have all left the club.
Crossley becomes the latest player to leave Tetley’s Stadium to join Featherstone but goes with the best wishes of everyone at the Rams.
Mr Sawyer explained: “Steve received a contract double what he was on at Dewsbury and he would have been mad to turn it down.
“We simply couldn’t match what Featherstone were offering and Steve has a young family to support.
“There is no hard feelings at all and I’m sure everyone at Dewsbury will wish Steve all the best, he has been brilliant for us”
Crossley certainly made a massive impact in his 18-month stint at the Rams and he was voted Supporters Club play-of-the-year and collected the magnificent Brearley Bailey Trophy, while also scooping the players-player-of-the-year award last Sunday.
There was more disappointment for Rams supporters as it has been revealed that centre Faal and hooker Flanagan have both joined Batley Bulldogs for next season.
Mr Sawyer added: “We are very disappointed to loose Ayden after we have stuck by him but we only want people here who want to wear the Dewsbury shirt.”
Morrison will have a similar budget to Warren Jowitt last season but will combine his coaching role at the Rams by working behind the scenes to bring in additional sponsorship, which could help boost funds available to sign players.
Mr Sawyer also paid tribute to former coach Jowitt and Paul Broadbent, who was interim coach for Dewsbury’s final three matches of the season and had been tipped by many to land the role on a permanent basis.
Mr Sawyer added: “I’d like to thank Warren for his efforts as he was more than a coach and helped keep the club afloat with his work behind the scenes.
“This club are loyal to its employees and stick with them through thick and thin and Warren was the longest serving professional coach when he departed.
“We had 22 applicants for the job and Paul Broadbent was a major candidate.
“We always said he had a hell of a chance of getting the job but we had others to consider.
“In his three matches, Paul did a great job and although he was very disappointed not to get the permanent job, he is a cracking coach.
“Paul got down to the last two but in Glenn Morrison we have got a cracking acquisition to the club and he will also take over securing new sponsorship on a commission basis.
“I am sure we will have as competitive a side as possible for next season.”
Dewsbury are set to announce season ticket prices next week but the chairman has indicated there is likely to be a rise from this year’s prices due to the expansion of the Co-operative Championship in 2013.
Mr Sawyer added: “I would urge supporters to dig deep to get a season ticket.
“Prices won’t be the same as we have four extra fixtures next season and we still must meet RFL salary cap regulations but if we could do 500 again, I am sure our shirt sponsors would be highly delighted.”
The club are working hard to get safety certificates for the grass bankings behind the posts at both ends of the ground and are hopeful these will be back in use for the start of next season.