Honor James

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About Honor James

  • Birthday 10/03/1944

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    Rugby League - and a whole lot of other things like art, literature, painting, dancing, music, theatre, cooking, history etc. and so on.
  1. Slipping through the net

    Interesting. It has seemed crazy to me, over the last fifteen years, every time I've heard (or read about) someone where decisions are made using, "not enough good players to go around" as the main why something can't be done. Almost as if the game is (was) doomed to remain stagnated at: * 12 teams in Super League * 12 teams or thereabouts by whichever collective name they have variously been lumped under as the tier below, each waiting for the one above them either to fail or be relegated (or be declared insolvent). * 10 / 12 / 14 teams or thereabouts, lurking in the shadows below that, hoping against hope for the almost impossible. A lot of potentially useful things seem to be discussed to help solve the problem but not then implemented in any meaningful enough way to make a difference. For a couple of fairly obvious examples, why don’t we: 1. Give both the second and third tiers, each something more meaningful to compete for than just hoping against hope? And 2. Create meaningful inducements to ensure (or even demand) that all clubs `carry' (that is, identify, train on and give top-tier playing opportunities to) a minimum of three, local 18 to 21-year-old, potentially great players. Of course, while doing that we would need at the same time to strictly limit the number of non-British players permitted in any squad, and there’s the rub. Very few people would welcome that. Draconian? It probably is. Workable, given the current mind-set of the UK game? Probably not. And yet, watching from the fringes as I do, it seems unlikely that UK Rugby League, as it stands, can reasonably expect very many young 18 or 19-year olds (however promising) to go on believing in the realistic possibility of a professional future for more than a very lucky few. In the current climate how many can, realistically go on believing, and sufficiently dedicating themselves to that belief way beyond the age when most of their friends are in some kind of meaningful employment (or further education). Not many, until UK Rugby League (both the clubs and fans alike) begins to believe again in local strength, as I’m sure they did once. Until they throw out the idea that has somehow crept in, that the success all clubs and fans so desire is there, just waiting for that one new quick-fix import from abroad. That's all they need, or so most seem always to believe. You would think that over the years, more than just a handful of clubs would have noticed that it pays in the long run, to commit whole-heartedly to `bringing on' local talent. To giving early opportunities to shine where talent, honesty, hard work and `on the brink' potential is clearly visible. To allow a generous `best of the new crop' to ripen before you throw it on the compost heap and settle for an older, but still useable import. It works for the Australians. They take players from us but only the super-talented, "can't really let that pass us by" player here and there. Have they ever taken even one older, journeyman player from this country? No. So why do we keep on believing we can win just by an `Ozzie’. Why go for the quick-fix? Why pick the easy option? Why do we do that? Is it cheaper? I bet it isn't in the long run. But how can we expect the 100% dedication it takes, year after virtually unrewarded year well into manhood, from a sufficient number of potentially great local players to create a meaningful, home-grown pool? I doubt we can, whilst signalling at the same time that they can expect no such equivalent dedication from us. Say, for example you are a 19-year-old prop forward. One promising enough to join the squad as a `maybe', and be given a chance to play on a couple occasions when the first string is badly depleted by injury. Great – and you play well enough. Make as many metres, in fact, as any other off-the-bench prop might, often as not. But you don’t `star' on either occasion; you fail to ignite the fans and management straight off with your brilliance. Well, very few people do, but in Rugby League, unless you are lucky enough to be at one of five (OK, say six or seven max) clubs in this country, you may never be seen in a first team squad again. So you play for a second-tier club. For a while, perhaps. But it is very likely indeed that you just give in to the clamour around you that says, “Hell, you gave it a try lad, but Fred and Joe are making really good money now and even Jack is on 20 grand." Or, "If you're not gonna get into Super League, face it man, you're just hammering your body and wasting your best years for nothing." And as likely as not there's a girlfriend in the mix saying much the same thing, who loves he man but would like to be able to go out and have fun at weekends, the way her friends do. It takes an exceptional young person to face down that kind of logic. It’s not as if coaches (or fellow players) can deny that at present 19-year-old is just hanging on, in limbo, waiting - that's all. Maybe waiting for someone to go back to Oz; maybe for their own body to catch up with their mind's promise. After all, what the young prop’s chosen position demands above all, is a mature male body, well set bones, hardened, time-tested muscle. Nor can anyone be sure that when a first-choice player is injured and will be out for any length of time, the 19-year-old hopeful will be given the opportunity to stand in. How often does a club bring in a more mature player on loan, or a side-line sitter from the NRL? It isn't difficult to see why the amateur game here is struggling. Every youngster needs a dream to chase. If you make the chance of living the dream so unlikely that only a super-talented, precociously self-confident and utterly tunnel-visioned young person could possibly believe in it, why be surprised when so few hang around long enough to find out. I am sorry to sound condemnatory but sometimes, some things have to be said by someone. Might as well be me, as I am on the fringes rather than embedded in the heart of it all. And of course, I may be wrong because anybody can be. Sorry also to write so much but at least I don't do it very often.
  2. Luke Gales hair

    Astonished ........ I thought it was only women who enjoy a carefully disguised gloat over another woman's fat legs, hairy legs, scrawny t**s and such like. Men do it too? Well blow me down!
  3. New RFL President Andy Burnham

    Does he get paid? Surely that is the question. ???????? So far as I understood the position, when I asked about it 15 years ago, it is purely ceremonial. An honour to be asked to do it; an occasional hand to shake; an occasional dinner invitation. Super - doesn't really matter who it is so long as they are sufficiently well known and of good character, plus .................. and in my view this is and ought always to be the essential, required plus .............................. not just someone picking up a handy `do little - or mostly do sod all' `job' with a `collect rather more than you could ever be worth' honorarium attached, to boost their retirement income. Or even worse, someone making a second career out of collecting such `do little - or mostly do ............ etc honoraria. Seems to me that these days the world is full of them.
  4. Tommy Voll

    I wonder how many people know that Tom Van Vollenhoven was a top rugby star in three countries. I have only seen it anywhere once, but some years ago I was given - and have passed on to my (now) Australian grandchildren - a pamphlet that mentioned Tom Van Vollenhoven playing for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). A picture showed him, perhaps in his early twenties, and incidentally a knockout, wearing the formal Rhodesian (rugby union) blazer and cap. That must have been before he (moved back to South Africa and?) was selected to play for the Sprinboks, for whom he scored at least one hattrick. I can only assume he moved at the same time as a great many other Rhodesian sportspeople did, when sport in Rhodesia became subject to the same political sanctions as the country itself, and all official international sporting contact was severed. Thereafter of course - as did another ex-Rhodesian rugby player I know of, Trevor Lake - Tom moved to the UK to play Rugby League, a move that earned him the eternal gratitude of St Helens Rugby League Club, and indeed, every Rugby League fan lucky enough to have watched him in action.
  5. As you cannot see the writer, it is impossible for you to know: (i) how many eyes he or she has (ii) what mist of whatever colour may be impeding his or her vision.
  6. That is an unnecessarily rude remark. What is the point of joining a forum to discuss anything on earth, if you are unable to accept that many people will have a different point of view to yours and will - because it is a discussion forum - feel free to speak what for them is the truth, just as you feel free to do the same. In discussion, resorting to personal insult has normally been considered the last resort of the feeble mind. Has that changed? Probably not. But I hope that anyone here being insulted for expressing concerns about what they felt might have been an unreasonable refereeing decision, will excuse your clearly patriotic but uncalled for remark.
  7. 100 Days That Shook Rugby League

    It depends on which branch. Some do regularly stock Rugby League books, most don't, but any branch can order it for you. That goes for all book stockists. They have a digital listing of every book pulished so long as it is entered into the Neilsen Book Data listings (this one is). It is also for sale direct from the publisher (League Publications Limited), go to www.totalrl.com/shop And also available via amazon.co.uk These are only the three main stockists, however. There are many other, small, independent bookshops of course, which - if they have a recognised Rugby League book buying clientelle - will order it in small quantities from the wholesaler, Gardners Books. I hope this helps anyone looking to purchase a copy and I hope that will be everyone because it looks like being a cracker!
  8. Downbeat Tony Smith?

    I have to agree. Rugby League will never be an international game in any meaningful sense, until (for example) the Lebanese field the first Lebanon team to represent Lebanon in a World Cup, in which at least two-thirds of the players (not squad - players) were born, grew up, learned their childhood and schoolboy Rugby League, and first played senior Rugby League, in Lebanon. One or two of them might well, at the time of that World Cup, be playing for an NRL, a Super League Europe team or one from some other country's domestic league; that would be wonderful. One or two of them might believe that their team had a forty-sixty chance of beating France, Ireland, Papua New Guinea or England. I would be seriously disappointed if the entire team didn't hope against hope that they might even beat the Kiwis or the Kangaroos. But winning should never be any country's first and only reason for fielding a national team, or a single, highly talented sportsman (or woman) in any sport, in any World Cup or World Championship. International sport is (or should be) about so much more that just winning. It's about being there; participating in an international event; showing the rest of the world that - though you may be no more than one small island, or one small land-locked country in the middle of Africa - you are proud to support your talented individuals and proud to represent your country. It's countries like that; the little countries that send a prticipant (or two or three), once every five years to the Olympics, to carry the flag and do their damnedest to bring home a medal; it's those countries that I and many people like me, tune-in and watch the Olympics to see. Think lady hurlers from Scotland. We all tuned in - amazed and delighted - to watch a sport many of didn't even know existed. Whereas tune in to see one team of Australians beat another team of Australians called `Lebanon' (of whom one sixth may have lived for a while, at some time, in Lebanon, and another sixth may have been there on a visit) .......... Why would I bother? I can watch one team of Australians beat another team of Australians on Premier Sports TV any week of the NRL season. Watch the best Rugby League matches in the world, or so I am told by those who know better than I can. The is nowt in this against Australians, just in case anyone thinks there is. I have a daughter, a son-in-law and three rapidly growing-up grandchildren who are all, now, legally and committedly Australians, by choice (and by signing and swearing in etc.) and I heartily approve. Nor owt against Lebanon or the Lebaese for that matter. I have never been the Lebanon but I am told it is a beautiful country. The people are ancient, welcoming, historically cultured and industrious and (I do know at least one thing from experience) ... the food is fabulous!
  9. Downbeat Tony Smith?

    I think you are right, but also maybe a bit wrong in concluding that the problem - all or mostly all - are the result of actions and decisions made at the top. Michael Jackson sang a lot, and - being of the geration I am - most of it for me went in at one ear and out at the other. BUT One thing he sang has stayed with me eever since I heard it ........... "I'm looking at the man in the mirror" Big stuff - there's little we can do as individuals. Small stuff - surely we could all do more than just notice problems and complainabout them or despair. Falling gates? Take a couple of your kids friends along next time the family goes to a match. Turn off that TV coverage every once in a while and go a match. Go to a lot more matches. Go to all your club's home matches right through the seaon the way your Dad and Granddad did. Negative press? Write more on here about what's good and less about what you think is bad, getting worse, not as good as it was when Noah was a lad ........ Celebrate you club, players and game. Enjoy them. To paraphrase John Kennedy, "Ask not what rugby league can do for you, ask yourself what you can do for rugby league." Clap more, smile more, laugh more, shout the roof off! If you've forgotten how to do those things take a look at the Worlfpack fans in Toronto on the video blog Matthew Shaw made last weekend when he spent a weekend in the city with the club. Bonkers!
  10. Toronto Wolfpack? Some say yea and some say nay and some may wish they'd go away but love 'em or leave 'em you'd have to agree their city and fans are a sight to see ............ http://www.totalrl.com/memories-toronto-totalrls-video-blog-special-canada/
  11. Nigel Wood vote of no confidence petition, any bets?

    Ha! In my experience that's probably due to a popular modern management technique, frequently called (irreverently) by those who work under it (rather than at the top) `save your a r s e theory'. Nobody can ever be pinned with full responsibility for anything, you see. Nobody can ever, reasonably be expected to `carry the can'. It was becoming frightfully popular in mining circles in Zimbabwe over the last ten years before I returned to the UK, in 1995. Just a polite interjection, as I know zilch about what goes on at Red Hall beyond what I am able to read, see and hear - out there in the world and/or on the internet.
  12. Stage struck? Wanna be a theatre star? Casting call in Oldham tomorrow for a new play about rugby league. http://www.totalrl.com/forums/index.php?/topic/303350-casting-call-for-rugby-league-in-the-blood/ You never know if you can or you'd like it till you try ...... that goes for everything.
  13. `Rugby League in the Blood’ is a new play, currently at its final draft stage, which is based on the shared memories of members of the Oldham and Rochdale communities and tells the story of the special relationship between Rugby League and those two towns. Rugby League's official charity arm, Rugby League Cares, is on the look-out for performers and volunteers to help bring to life this exciting new piece of theatre. Four performances are planned, in October, and local people are invited to get involved in the production at every level - from performing to stage management, ushers front-of-house to backstage assistants. The community cast call takes place on Monday June 19 at the Oldham Coliseum at 6.30pm, when writer Mick Martin, who is producing the play, will be on hand to discuss the various roles. Mick, whose other works include `Once upon a Time in Wigan' and `Broken Time' (which tells the story of rugby’s great split in 1895), has been working with local volunteers to produce this new play’s script, as part of a Rugby League Cares project, `From Stories to Stage'. The writers have accessed the communal memory bank of reminiscences and stories about Rugby League in both towns. “It’s been a fantastic process," said RL Cares heritage consultant, Trizia Wells. "We have gathered some brilliantly evocative memories which Mick and his fellow writers have been turning into a thrilling piece of theatre, and we are now at the stage where we need local people to come forward and help us bring `Rugby League in the Blood’ to life. “There are lots of opportunities to get involved and it’s something everyone can be part of: you don’t need previous experience of the theatre or acting, and you don’t have to be a Rugby League fan.” The play will premiere at Touchstones Gallery, Rochdale - Wednesday October 18 as part of the town’s 2017 Literature Festival, and three further performances will follow at: The Flying Horse in Rochdale - Wednesday, October 25 Oldham Library – Thursday, October 26 The Mahdlo Centre, Oldham – Friday, October 27. Anyone interested in becoming involved is asked to attend the community cast call on (this) Monday (19 June), or contact Trizia on 07903 300386, or email trizia@theheritageconnection.co.uk
  14. Or 17 (heritage) Australians playing as `Italy' in the World Cup. Nice for the people playing but logically, and in terms of realistic international development of the game (as played by ordinary young people in Italy, Greece etc.) meaningless. Same goes for `Greece', `Serbia, `Lebanon, `Urugay' ...... etc, etc. This is not an anti-Australians-of-Italian-heritage campaign, and it's great that all those young people with forbears from other countries play the game, and play it well. I just wish they would see that to properly represent any country you do need at very least a sizeable `hub' of genuinely domestic players. No harm then in a salutary sprinkling of external `glitz'. Or alternatively, why don't all those Australian heritage players representing countries from all over the world just proudly announce their heritage status, and celebrate it as such. Heritage Rugby League World Cup sounds good to me - played every four years, in Australia, two years after every World Cup. What a fantastic celebration of Australia's brilliantly diverse population that could be.
  15. So to you it's OK, I guess, that our competition is all too frequently and openly seen and accepted (by an awful lot of Brits and certainly DownUnderites), as a handy bolt-hole for out-of-favour NRL players who (being not yet absolutely beyond their sell-by date) can serve penance time, until one or other of the NRL coaches (short of cash but needing a top-up) thinks: "Oh well, he's probably learned his lesson by now." OK - it's a point of view. But me? I'd rather watch my team lose than "sell my birthright for a mess of pottage", and I'll be right at the front cheeering louder than anyone.