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Hopping Mad

Coach
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  1. If a rugby league coach (in the 'Gods') is in direct contact with an assistant (on the touchline), I'd say he's got the best of both worlds. What spectator in their right mind would choose to have a worm's eye view of the match? Some do. Why? Back in the Eighties, when I reported on rugby league, I remember being surprised when the then-coach at Oldham joined us in the Watersheddings press box, located on the back row of the main stand. I was sitting at the end of the row. "Is there room for me?" he asked (I was covering the away team therefore unknown to him). "I can't see anything from down there." As I recall, he was one of the early 'clipboard' coaches. Watch (association) football from anywhere near a technical area, and you soon realise managers spend 90 minutes shouting complete nonsense at their players. When they're not doing that, they're verbally abusing - i.e. intimidating - the match officials.
  2. Of course, Huntington Stadium had exactly the same problematical layout. Was there a reason for that? Those sitting in the main stand (paying the highest admission price) were obliged to squint into the afternoon sun. Much better - standing - on the covered terrace opposite! Whenever I went to watch a game at Huntington, that was my vantage point of choice. I guess, at the LNER, the west stand will be used only when something like a capacity crowd is threatened. The further a stand roof pitches out beyond the seats or terracing steps it's supposed to shelter, the more expensive the structure becomes. Was money saved on the LNER by having shallow roofs? Why media facilities aren't at the back of the (east) stand beggars belief. I'm struggling to think of any other stand - traditional or modern - with media facilities down towards the front.
  3. I’d say York City’s hard core support is about 2,300.
  4. Pre-match, I felt it would be about 2,000. York’s hard core 1,500 (very few ‘floaters’ on such a horrible day) plus 500 from Leigh.
  5. Update (20/2, as far as I can tell - amendments/corrections welcome): Rugby Football League Printed match programme: Barrow (£2), Hull (£3), Leeds (£3), Leigh (£3.50), North Wales (£2), Rochdale (£3), Swinton (£3), Warrington (£3 plus £1.99 p+p through Ignition Sports Media), Wigan (£4), York (£3). Printed monthly magazine: Castleford (Roar, £2), Wakefield (The Trin, £2), Widnes (We are Widnes, £3). Printed match teamsheet: Whitehaven (£1). Digital match programme: Newcastle (free), Oldham (£3), St Helens (free), Warrington (free), West Wales (£2). Nothing: Batley, Bradford, Catalans, Dewsbury, Featherstone, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull KR, Hunslet, London Broncos, London Skolars, Salford, Workington. Others TBC (Keighley hope to have a printed match programme). Amateur Rugby League Printed match programme: Bentley (£1), Leigh Miners Rangers (£3, w/a), Lock Lane, Thornhill. Note: Orrell St James did a one-off printed match programme for their 15/1 Challenge Cup first round tie. Others TBC.
  6. In this weather, in February, a game only for diehards. A shame, because Leigh is one of the most attractive home fixtures of York's regular season.
  7. Danika Priim is excellent, but I could do without Helen Skelton, who is dreadful in everything she does. Never seems to have progressed from presenting Blue Peter.
  8. Off goes Gale. Goodness knows what Johnny Whiteley would make of this shambolic Hull display.
  9. Not sure the awfulness of the weather is obvious on TV. Sleeting here in York. It’ll be the same in Hull.
  10. It's possible, without the BBC's FTA coverage, going back to the Fifties, there really would be little or no interest in rugby league outside the pockets in parts of three northern counties where it's played at the highest level. Back in the early Eighties, at university, my circle of friends included a lad from Worcester who loved rugby league, because he'd seen it on the BBC and cottoned on to Eddie Waring. He'd never watched a live game. Imagine how excited he was when, from Liverpool, we were able to take him along to Saints, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan. And Runcorn. Similarly, in the early Nineties, when I worked on Teesside, I had three colleagues who were rugby league fans - solely because of seeing it on the BBC. They, too, had never witnessed a live game. Until they accompanied me on several car-packed Sunday 'away days' down the A19. When rugby league switched to summer, often we could watch two games on the one Sunday. Honestly, they loved it. I agree, neither the BBC nor Eddie Waring (nor Ray French) were perfect, but let's not underestimate what they did to bring rugby league to the attention of those living beyond the M62, York and the Cumbria coast. Channel 4 could do the same for another generation of youngsters.
  11. Not for the first time, a February season start is coinciding with the worst weather of the winter. Surely, only the truly committed are turning out. Geographically, my nearest team are York. Their second most attractive home game of the regular season is on Sunday, against Leigh. I'd pencilled it in as one to watch. But the weather forecast says 80 per cent chance of heavy rain and winds approaching 50mph. I doubt I'll bother.
  12. From Hull's website (with regard to tomorrow's game against St Helens): A special edition of The 18th Man match day programme will be dedicated to Johnny Whiteley MBE, including special tributes and photographs, priced at just £2 [says £3 on the cover!]. The programme will be available from the stadium retail store (from 12 noon on Friday) and around the stadium on match day.
  13. Starting this evening, Warrington are issuing a 40-page hard copy programme (available through Ignition Sports Media, £3 plus £1.99p+p), along with a digital version (free). https://warringtonwolves.com/news/2022/february/Download-tonight-s-digital-programme/ Wigan, too, will have a printed programme (£4), available from sellers at the ground.
  14. Another statement (finally) from the Raith Rovers directors and CEO: https://www.raithrovers.net/52569/club-statement-11.htm
  15. When I lived in Xrr, the RU club played in an all black strip. Do they still? Exeter All Blacks better than Exeter Chiefs?
  16. Hunslet 'Hawks' was a bit silly but the 'Welcome to Hawkshire' sign on the roundabout by the South Leeds Stadium overflow car park always made me smile. Speedway is/was never short of wacky nicknames. Defunct clubs include Bristol Bulldogs, Cradley Heathens, Fleetwood Flyers, Rayleigh Rockets, Romford Bombers and Yarmouth Bloaters. Oh, and Rochdale Hornets.
  17. Part of the problem (if it is a problem) is many people in areas where league is the predominant code talk routinely about 'rugby' - as if union does not exist. My sister-in-law, who is from Ipswich, Queensland, and lives in Hampshire, is a union fan and refers to it always simply as 'rugby'. On one early visit, we were having lunch in a pub, packed with rugger hearties and hangers-on, while a Six Nations game was on the telly (I know - nightmare scenario). She asked me if I liked 'rugby'. "I like rugby league," I replied. "I don't much care for this version." Despite growing up mostly between Halifax and Huddersfield, and having lived since in a few other 'rugby league towns', I always call it 'rugby league' - never 'rugby'.
  18. Update (18/2, as far as I can tell - amendments/corrections welcome): Rugby Football League Printed match programme: Barrow (£2), Hull (£3), Leeds (£3), Leigh (£3.50), North Wales (£2), Rochdale (£3), Swinton (£3), Warrington (£3 plus £1.99 p+p through Ignition Sports Media), Wigan (£4), York (£3). Printed monthly magazine: Castleford (Roar, £2), Wakefield (The Trin, £2), Widnes (We are Widnes, £3). Printed match teamsheet: Whitehaven (£1). Digital match programme: Newcastle (free), Oldham (£3), St Helens (free), Warrington (free), West Wales (£2). Nothing: Batley, Bradford, Dewsbury, Featherstone, Halifax, Hull KR, Hunslet, London Broncos, London Skolars, Toulouse, Workington. Others TBC (Keighley hope to have a printed match programme). Amateur Rugby League Printed match programme: Bentley (£1), Leigh Miners Rangers (£3, w/a), Lock Lane, Thornhill. Note: Orrell St James did a one-off printed match programme for their 15/1 Challenge Cup first round tie. Others TBC.
  19. Oh, come on. We're inhabiting the sporting parallel universe here.
  20. I lived in Cumbria for five years - and explored every corner. It's a strange county. East and west rarely meet. Ditto north and south. Partly a cultural thing, partly - I suspect - because of the dire road network and poor public transport. I remember once chatting to an elderly couple in a churchyard at Grayrigg (near Kendal). I mentioned Whitehaven. "Ooh," the woman said. "We've never been there." (as if it were somewhere south of Aberystwyth)
  21. It's slightly shocking that Skelton's father - a dairy farmer, I think - didn't seem to be aware rugby league existed; even though he lives/lived in a county where the game is played at amateur and semi-professional level! Mind you, they do say Cumbria is more of a country than a county.
  22. Skelton is from Kirkby Thore, a village on the A66, about 10 miles east of Penrith, which I'm afraid is rugby union country. A Thore point, as it were.
  23. They don't play much rugby league in the part of Cumbria Helen Skelton is from!
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