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The Game That Got Away

- bbc archive

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#1 audois

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:31 PM

Apologies if this has been aired before but for me captivating stuff from the BBC archives circa 1969 featuring above others Keith Macklin ("...a game which blended the artistic with the primitive...") and the late and much lamented Brian Redhead ("..a very intelligent and intellectual game..."). He once described rugby league as 'chess with muscles'.

...union has checked the virus by controlling use of pitches, strangle hold on schools and its fierce by-laws. it considered itself as the true church & league the apostate and heretic.."


Edited by audois, 10 February 2013 - 01:04 PM.

si tu (remi casty) devais envoyer un fax au president guasch?
"Un grand bravo pour tout ce que vous avez fait, et merci de m'avoir embarqué dans cette aventure."


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#2 Futtocks

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:54 AM

It was shown a year or so ago on BBC4 as part of their Rugby League Night. A very good documentary that I'd never heard about before.

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open. Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)


#3 Ackroman

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 11:38 AM

loved it

#4 southstand loiner

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

was a cracker . i have a copy of it that has more footage on that was sneaked out of the bbc some years ago
ah a sunday night in front of the telly watching old rugby league games.
does life get any better .

#5 Jim from Oz

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 01:05 AM

brilliant stuff … but is only part 1 available for viewing on YouTube?

#6 tonyXIII

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:20 AM

brilliant stuff … but is only part 1 available for viewing on YouTube?


I watched part 1 and YouTube immediately offered me a range of other clips. Part 2 was one of them. You could try searching for it. It's definitely there.

edit: Sorry! Forgot my manners for a moment. Thanks to the OP for the link. I enjoyed watching that, it was the game I fell in love with 35 years ago.

Edited by tonyXIII, 09 February 2013 - 11:22 AM.

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#7 Jim from Oz

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:20 AM

Cheers for that ! Now may I ask: who was Brian Redhead? seemed like an interesting chap …

#8 Jim from Oz

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:29 AM

Have just watched part 2 to follow part 1 … totally fascinating stuff … never realised Featherstone was such a small place … watching the Featherstone boys train, couldn't but shake me head at the difference between there back then and here and now in Oz with the NRL, so slickly packaged, huge marketing, gargantuan TV deals and high wages … the total almost amatuerism of then with the likes of Featherstone v the total professionalism of RL today in Australia

Is Featherstone still like this? Is it still such a wee village? And is it still a total RL town (I presume)?

I also loved the Wigan head honchos and the Wales lads? And sign-on bonuses without tax because they were giving up their amateur status? Was that really the case???

Like I say, all totally fascinating … so very different, too, to what I saw of RL as I grew up engrossed in it here in Sydney in the 1970s.

How life has changed !

And more links to shows/docos like these would be greatly appreciated !

#9 tonyXIII

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:01 PM

For Jim from Oz.

I suggest you google Brian Redhead. Briefly, he was a well-respected journalist and radio presenter, who never forgot his roots in the North. I knew he was connected with the Guardian newspaper, but had forgotten he was "Northern Editor" of that once-esteemed journal, and the Manchester Evening News. He did quite a bit of radio stuff, too. Basically, an old-school journo who could and did write eloquently about life, unlike many of the modern scribblers, who can barely spell, never mind construct a complex sentence.

Those Wigan scouts talking about signing up Welsh talent were fascinating and, like you, I'm deeply suspicious about the "tax-free" bit. I don't think they would get away with that today.

As for the high-tech training at Featherstone, it reminded me of our training at Whitby. However, I did meet Laurie Gant. He travelled to Whitby one evening (a 3 hour round trip from the Featherstone area, assuming he lived thereabouts) to talk to some of my students about rugby league and he was clearly in love with the game. An impressive gentleman.

I have a real fondness for that era, but comparing it to the modern game is pointless. Chalk and cheese!

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#10 Jim from Oz

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:50 AM

yes, chalk and cheese indeed. Thanks for answering my queries. Incredible era it was, so different from today.

Also fascinating was the connection with the coal mines … amazing to see the coal mines were virtually IN the towns … are there any coal mines left in RL towns or were they all shut by Thatcher and her ilk?

#11 Futtocks

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

And more links to shows/docos like these would be greatly appreciated !


Do a search for "Another bloody Sunday". Then thank me. ;)

A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open. Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)





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