GARETH Ellis gets to walk down memory lane tonight – but he hopes to have a future at the end of it.
The Hull skipper gets to step out for one last time at the ground he first went to as a five or six-year-old, where his father used to lift him over the turnstiles.
However, he is determined to not bring the curtain down on his career at Castleford. Hull have to avoid defeat to seal a Super League semi-final spot.
If they do, it will complete a glorious hat-trick at the end his career – last home game against first club Wakefield, last away game at boyhood heroes Castleford then a semi-final at the club he established himself as a star, Leeds.
Little wonder then that Ellis is hell bent on making sure tonight does not see the curtain hauled down prematurely.
“I’ve had a pretty good finish with playing Wakefield last week and now playing Castleford, the club I watched when I was a kid,” said the 36-year-old.
“It’s probably about 20 years since I stopped going as a fan but I used to watch them home and away with my dad, my uncles and my aunties.
“I would’ve been five or six when I first started watching them and my first real memories are watching them in the 1986 Challenge Cup Final.
“If you’d asked me as a kid what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would’ve said, ‘Play for Cas.’ I didn’t but one or two family members smiled when I went to Wests in Australia as I had the Tigers name on my shirt!
“Ronnie Gibbs was my first hero, then Tawera Nikau. They’re the two that really stand out and this match will invoke a lot of memories for me.
“But the only focus is concentrating on ourselves as we know that if we do what we’re meant to do and win, we’re in the semi-finals.”
Loose-forward Ellis is far from counting down the days before retirement. He insists that because it is his decision, he has got his head around the prospect of not playing.
He added: “If I was in two minds, I’d probably be getting a bit worried but I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. The timing is right.”
But with so much riding on this match, not many thoughts have turned to Ellis’ next career move as Hull’s football manager, where he will have a big say in recruitment.
Put simply, Gareth Ellis the football manager is not looking to replace Gareth Ellis the player.
He said: “With still being in the mix of everything on the pitch, people have just left me to that.
“They want me to give my all in the remaining fixtures first.
“I’ve organised a few meetings with people who do similar jobs both in the UK and Australia to get used to what’s expected of me in that role.
“I feel I’m ready to do something different but I’m determined to give my all on the pitch first.
“The line ‘Gareth Ellis is replacing Gareth Ellis’ isn’t quite right. I’m not involved in any recruitment for 2018, it’s more for 2019 that my job will start.
“But there’s too much to play for at the moment!”
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