The Garry Schofield Column: Memories of ‘innovative and ambitious’ Maurice Lindsay

I’m not sure we’ll ever see another Rugby League administrator like Maurice Lindsay.

Like many, I had my run-ins with him, and I certainly didn’t agree with everything he said or did.

But there’s no doubt that he was innovative, ambitious – initially for his club Wigan, then the game as a whole – and determined.

Cross Maurice, and you had a problem, such was his power and influence.

If there was a decision to be made, he got on with making it, and they don’t get much bigger than the switch to summer rugby and the creation of Super League back in the mid-nineties.

The game was skint and in a bad way, but Maurice had the vision and belief to push for the deal with Sky, who wanted a sport to show in the months without football and see it through.

But it wasn’t all plan sailing.

Leeds, one of the biggest clubs in the game, were wary about the problems of the crossover with cricket, but Maurice, knowing their participation was crucial, pretty much told them to like it or lump it. And he held his nerve.

Then there was the suggestion of mergers, which caused so much controversy and protest from fans. They didn’t happen in the end, but he still pushed on and drove his plans forward.

We saw some clubs with a good case for inclusion, like Keighley, miss out, while others, like Paris Saint-Germain and Gateshead Thunder, came and went.

But in the early days, the competition was vibrant, and it’s just a shame that the momentum hasn’t been maintained.

The announcement of Maurice’s death also got me thinking about the Great Britain tours to New Zealand in 1990 and Australia in 1992 when he was team manager.

Yes, he had his favourites, and given Wigan’s domination of the game at that time, they had plenty of representatives.

But he was still excellent in that role. Whether it was hotels, food or kit, we got the best.

We wanted for nothing and any problem was quickly addressed and sorted out.

Maurice twice tried to get me to join Wigan.

He offered me a lucrative three-year contract that I have to say was tempting, but I thought Leeds under David Ward could challenge at the top of the game and remained at Headingley.

Then, when Leeds launched their bid to sign Ellery Hanley, Maurice wanted me to go the other way as part of the deal.

It didn’t happen, Leeds paid £250,000 for Ellery and I stayed put. I’ve no real regrets, although if I’d realised what my relationship with Doug Laughton was going to be like, I might well have pushed that bit harder to cross the Pennines!

Salford shine at home

Well done to Salford on a very impressive performance against Castleford.

Lee Radford’s side have found it hard going on the road, but after that opening-round defeat by Paul Rowley’s side at Wheldon Road, you would have thought they’d be desperate for revenge.

Salford weren’t having any of that, however, and I thought they fully deserved a second successive win after spoiling Rohan Smith’s first match at Leeds.

I’d say Salford deserve eight out of ten across the board, while Joe Westerman, who has been consistently good for Castleford, gets the same. For the other forwards, it’s six out of ten and for the backs, five.

I couldn’t get to Headingley for Rohan’s first win, over a Wakefield side who are struggling badly.

Perhaps that’s just as well, because my mates who did go say that while they were pleased with the two points, the match itself was so dull and short of quality, it would have sent my artificial eye to sleep.

As for St Helens, I was disappointed by their approach to the game at Warrington, who gave it a good go and were unlucky not to get something.

It looked a little too arrogant to me. I had hoped Saints had ditched that habit of turning the tap on and off when they feel like it, but perhaps they haven’t.  

Death of another icon

What sad news to hear of the death of Les Dyl at the age of 69.

He was a great servant to Leeds and represented Yorkshire, England and Great Britain with distinction, as well as being a smashing bloke.

I remember watching Les play and thinking ‘if I can be anything like as good a centre as him, I’ll be doing okay’.

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