Sometimes you watch a certain type of player and you just know. Those once in a generation players that light up a crowd, reignite the fire and lead a club to glory.
For Hull FC, their talismanic captain, to use one of many superlatives, Gareth Ellis has done just that. A player that will ultimately go down as a legend at his club for his services both on and crucially off the field.
When the Black and Whites announced the signing of Ellis back in 2012 it was a statement of intent, and whilst it took a bit of time for Hull to become the superpower they are now, his legacy can never be questioned.
Before Gareth’s arrival Hull flirted with the big boys but were never taken seriously. They were more than most tied down to mid-table mediocrity and something had to give. His signing changed all that.
Fast forward a few years and he became a legend. Two Challenge Cups in the bag and a transitional period that now leaves Hull genuine contenders and not pretenders.
They are now a force in the competition, and whilst a Grand Final evades them for now, the club is in a great position to make that next step to Old Trafford and Super League stardom. It will come eventually, and on the back of the foundations Gareth has set.
After so much success knowing the end of the road was near must have been a weird feeling for Gareth, having played his last ever professional rugby league match last Friday night against Leeds.
It wasn’t the swan song we all craved. Instead it was heartbreak – a gutting feeling, with the target set of reaching Old Trafford all year.
For Ellis, the Black and Whites’ captain, leader, and legend, his legacy on his final club has been massive, and despite the disappointment felt at Headingley, it’s one, as Wembley has testified on two occasions, built in glory.
“I don’t know what to feel. I thought I’d prepared myself for it over the last couple of weeks with the kind of knockout games we’d be in of late,” Ellis emotionally stated post-match.
“The reality is now it’s done and obviously I’m gutted. But I’m more disappointed about missing out on this opportunity.
“That’s the feeling of where we are at. It’s been such a long season of hard work but it’s just left with this feeling that it’s unfinished.
“I don’t think we were quite ready for the end and that’s the disappointing thing. The reality is it’s the end for this season and full stop for me.”
Playing at the peak of his powers right until the end, Ellis was immense for Hull, and put in a performance that suggested there’s still some fuel in the tank yet.
His body may well be feeling the effects of a gruelling 19-year career, but from a talent aspect you feel there’s so much more to give, even at 36-years-old. That’s the legacy he leaves and that’s why we as fans want him to go round again. The realisation that he won’t be pulling on a shirt again is a difficult one to face.
“Rugby League has brought about a host of big decisions,” Ellis stated on retirement. “But none of those decisions have been as big or as difficult as deciding to hang up my boots.
“The timing is right. To bow out now while I’m able to contribute wholeheartedly on the field.
“Thankfully I have been invited to play a major part in the future success of Hull FC in the prestigious and demanding role as Football Manager.”
Thanks largely to Gareth Ellis, there’s certain standards now at the club and a culture, aided by a coaching philosophy from Lee Radford, who has bread a successful period with the right personnel, and keeping Gareth in the set up is vital to that.
There’s life after playing, and whilst Hull FC’s captain may have hung up his boots, he still has, in swapping the shirt for the tie, a big role to play.