League Express Mailbag – Monday 20th December

  I was interested to read that Ian Judson laments Jack Harrison’s not having found a place in the Hull FC Hall of Fame, and also the further contribution of Ian Wright (Mailbag 6th December).
On any entry into a Hall of Fame, whether the official RFL roll or that of any individual club, opinions may differ as to the worthiness of the candidate.
Normally there is more debate over who has been left out than any quarrel over who has been honoured. Ian Judson should take on board the fact, however, that Hull FC have a record of serious neglect in their selected three sets of elevations so far.
The first event, in 1992, saw the then Board select six very worthy players: Johnny Whiteley, Tommy Harris, Clive Sullivan, Arthur Keegan, Steve Norton and David Topliss. But at the same time they managed to omit the legendary Billy Batten, who only four years earlier had been named as a founder member of the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
At that time, the accepted rule was that recipients had to be ten years beyond their playing years. Clearly Norton and Topliss failed on that, and I believe the requirement has now been reduced to five years, although in 2015 the club selected Richard Horne as the 30th member of the Hull FC gallery and he hadn’t been finished five minutes.
We will all have an opinion on the merits of any nomination to any Hall of Fame, but the Rugby League award is for outstanding contributions to the game of Rugby League, for a club or internationally.
I respectfully suggest to the two Ians that they appear to suggest it should have been awarded for bravery on the battlefield. Harrison did create the Hull record for tries in a season, which still stands, but he had the benefit of Billy Batten and Herbert Gilbert as his centres. They were arguably the finest centre pairing Hull have ever had.
Having entered my 66th season as a Hull supporter, I have the advantage of being able to recite the opinions of old boys (at the time I started attending the Boulevard) who had seen Harrison play, and I can only pass on the opinion coming from those old guys who knew their rugby.
“Not actually a very good player.”
Though I guess if I had been around at that time, I would have been pleased to have had him in my team.
I don’t seek to minimise the bravery of Jack Harrison in any way, but our memory of that bravery – and of his sacrifice at Arras – should go hand in hand with the memory of Harry Wallace (Hull FC halfback, 1906-1911), who was also killed in action at Arras just three days after Harrison.
Respectfully submitted.
Bill Dalton, Hull


I guess that many of your League Express regular readers will, like me, have their own favourite sections of the paper.
Mine are the up to date news articles, Martyn Sadler’s weekly ‘Talking Rugby League’, Garry Schofield’s ‘Pulling no Punches,’ Phil Hodgson’s ‘Talking Grass Roots’, and the Mailbag, which gives us all a chance to air our views.
For some reason Mailbag hasn’t always been included, perhaps due to insufficient correspondence, but the majority of issues do have letters printed.
Here are some interesting facts over the past year.
There have been over 260 different contributors; the average number of letters printed per issue was eight; the issue dated 26 July saw 25 letters printed, twelve of them from first-time correspondents.
Here is a list of the most regular Mailbag contributors, with the number of letters printed in brackets:
(6) Mike Wright, Hull and John Wheeler, Sandbach
(7) Michael O’Hare, Northwood and Joe Vince, Hull
(10) Graham Dawson; Castleford
(11) Bill Anderson; Parbold
(13) Ian Haskey, Castleford and Richard Sanderson, Beadnell
Bill Rees of Wakefield was the only person to have four of his letters printed as lead articles.
Five correspondents had three letters printed in one month – Bill Anderson, Graham Dawson, Ian Haskey, Richard Sanderson and David Taylor.
Pete Corroboy of Warrington was the only person to have two letters printed in the same issue.
The three letters coming from furthest afield were from John Meadows (Los Alcazares in Spain), Tim Butcher (Beaucaire in France), and Tim Wilkinson (Koutoufoulari in Crete).
Within the UK the letter from farthest north was from Andy Bullman of Aberdeen, and farthest south was from Lee Davies from Newquay.
And finally, seven letters were received from two people with titles: Roger Ingham MBE of Skipton (4) and Dennis Richards OBE of Harrogate (3).
For anyone thinking, “This guy must be something of a nerd,” we have gone through another year of Covid and I thought a spread sheet would give me something to do. I hope you enjoyed it.
Happy Christmas to all.
Richard Sanderson, Beadnell, Northumberland


As we approach a new season, I hope selfish clubs will look further than their own backyards when looking to improve the game.
I watched my first Rugby League game in the late 1940s at the old Parkside ground with my brothers, but I find the current version of the game boring. The game plan for most teams is five drives and an aimless kick, and in the main there is a total disregard for the rules.
Players and match officials should all play to the rules. For example, there are two penalties on offer at every play-the-ball, which is rarely played correctly; the defence is never back ten metres and at times I have thought we’ve reverted to the old five-metre rule; and if the ball is played correctly with the foot the referee can judge if the defenders are on side.
How many times is the ball kicker taken out late, long after the ball has been kicked. Does a player have to be seriously injured before action will be taken? We used to mock the other code for the number of forward passes in a game, but we are now as bad. In every game a try is scored with a forward pass in the build-up.
Enforcement of the rules falls on the shoulders of the referees, but it should be backed up, until players and coaches who coach players to cheat realise that they will not gain from their misdemeanours.
The NRL clamped down on the play-the-ball and players soon learned they had to comply.
There is also an element of thuggery creeping into the game. A perfect example was at the Grand Final when a match official got major decisions wrong. Tommy Makinson should have been shown a red card, followed by a six-match suspension.
It is noticeable that thuggery that has crept into their play under their new coach. And finally, Sky’s answer to the Chuckle Brothers is their version of line speed called offside.
I look forward to watching both players and officials abiding by the rules, and to the dropping of golden point because, when play has been equally good, points deserve to be shared.
Colin Smith, Leeds


Crowds are dwindling in most sports, while football coverage by the TV and media in general amounts to brain washing.
Every programme mentions football at some time. Even women’s football has now overtaken other sports due to the amount of coverage.
We will never sell our game until we get the media to give fair coverage to all sports. The Football Association do not have to do anything to promote their game; the media do that for them. All sports should get together to do something about this.
The media could make tiddlywinks an international sport with the right amount of coverage.
We too could help to promote our game if we stopped players going down with fake injuries. Football tactics do nothing to help the referees.
When head-high tackles were a normal part of our game, players just got up. If they stayed down, you knew that they were injured.
Bill Paget, Wakefield


It seems to me, and to many others, that the Rugby Football League has a hidden agenda for Featherstone Rovers.
What with the fines and bans over the last few years (some merited and some not), they seem to be intent on keeping us in the Championship.
Their latest action was to ban one of our star players, Dane Chisholm, for eight matches, after launching an investigation and charging Chisholm with using discriminatory language and conduct, despite there apparently being no evidence at a tribunal hearing to support the allegation, at which he was found guilty.
Shame on them.
Graham Greenwood, Knottingley


The RFL has suspended Dane Chisholm for eight matches, for reportedly swearing at a physio with whom he accidentally collided during an Oldham match in August.
However, unless another player was in earshot to back up the physio’s claim, it is surely a matter of one word against another.
I was not present at the tribunal, but I do wonder how it took so long for this matter to come out.
This appears to be another case of the RFL’s lack of intelligent approach to problems, creating more questions than answers by their usual way of conducting themselves.
Dane Chisholm categorically denies that the incident took place and is contesting the charge and suspension, appealing in the most vigorous way, with the full backing and assistance of Featherstone Rovers.
Ian Haskey, Castleford