No need for firefighter Mark Moxon to be putting out fires at Batley Bulldogs as new head coach looks to continue good work of predecessors

When a new manager steps into a building, there may be a need for a few fires to be put out.
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But there were certainly no figurative flames engulfing the workplace at Mount Pleasant when Mark Moxon took over as head coach of Batley Bulldogs from Craig Lingard at the end of last season.

Even if there were, the Leeds Bradford Airport firefighter would be well equipped to urgently address the problem.

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It is your stereotypical ‘family club.’ Speak to any player, any fan. In fact, anyone connected with the club. They will tell you exactly the same. The chairman, Kevin Nicholas, is into his 27th year. He has never sacked a head coach in his tenure.

Batley Bulldogs' head coach Mark MoxonBatley Bulldogs' head coach Mark Moxon
Batley Bulldogs' head coach Mark Moxon

Lingard left to pursue his dream of coaching full-time in Super League. Moxon, who had served as an assistant at the club for the previous 12 years, inherited a side that had made a Championship play-off semi-final, a Grand final and a Wembley final in three consecutive years.

If anything has been on fire in recent times, it is the performances of this Batley team.

“It is a special group that we have got at the moment,” reveals Moxon. “It is a group which goes out there and performs every week.”

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A part-time group which continues to be tagged as the underdogs.

“We like that title,” Moxon insists. “It takes the pressure off. Nobody expects us to achieve anything. With our budget as well, that also takes the pressure off because we haven’t got the budget of other teams.

“We can just relax, do our best and work hard. We don’t try to push them too hard in terms of training. We know they work.

“We are genuinely part-time, which is different to other clubs who maybe push closer to full-time environments. We appreciate that they go to work full-time and have got families as well.

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“Sometimes less is more and that’s the blueprint we follow.”

And it’s a recipe which has seemingly been a part of the Batley fabric long before Moxon’s arrival in September 2011 to assist John Kear.

“You can just tell around the place that it is a family club,” Moxon says. “It has certainly always been there since I’ve been here and even before I arrived.

“I don’t know how it becomes that way and I don’t know why it is different or special but everybody who comes seems to enjoy their time.

“Long may that continue.”

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But Moxon’s plot to maintain the Bulldogs’ overachievers’ status in 2024 is finely balanced with his firefighter role at Leeds Bradford Airport.

He reveals: “We have had a behind-doors quiet chat within the group to set some goals, which we have kept in those four walls. But any coach will say that the play-offs are the end goal. That’s where everybody wants to be come the end of the year and we’re no different.

“The additions we have made are starting to prove that they have got something to offer and they may even take us to the next level, which is exciting.

“We do 24-hour shifts now (at the airport), so when I drop off shift it’s on a day when we’re going to be training, so I’ll have my prep to do through the day and then training in the evenings, as well as look after the kids and take them to school.

“It is just a big balancing act at the moment but it is working okay.”