Category Archives: Sport

What Does £32 Million Buy? (Part 1)

The easy, topical answer, is that it buys a Winter Olympic team, along with 59 athletes, four medals and the material for some great film scripts.

A crowd-funded bobsleigh team, crashing skater and an ice dancer who came back from smashing a kneecap – it’s all there.

I’m not a great sportsman, as you may have guessed from my photos and various comments on size and sloth, but every four years I rotate through Olympics, Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. The kids make me watch a variety of World Championships, there’s the Rugby World Cup,the Rugby League World Cup and plenty of local news on skaters and kayakers who train in Nottingham. It’s hard not to get involved with all that around on TV.

Now, the question, as raised by National Treasure “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards, is, are we spending too much on Winter sports. We aren’t, it seems, a natural Winter Sport nation.

Unfortunately we aren’t naturally good at Summer Sports, cricket or football either.

So, where do I go from here?

I could go on to discuss sport, politics and the national mood, which always seems to improve when we do well.  It often improves when we lose too, as we all love an underdog and Elise Christie, though devoid of medals, has set an example of determination that’s a great example to the rest of us.

I could talk about sport and money. It’s a massive subject, and it has plenty to offer a cynic, particularly if, like me, you believe that the money would be better spent on developing better drugs programmes. If people want to run as fast as chemicals allow, let’s help them. I’m looking forward to the two minute mile.

However, for those who want to do it the old-fashioned way – hard work and dedication – I’d have a separate set of games. I’d also ban transgressors for life instead of handing them a short rest between games. Yes Justin Gatlin, I’m looking at you.

Finally, as we’ve sort of covered politics, cash and the cowardice of governing bodies, it might be a good time to mention James “Darkie” Peters. I’ll say no more. If you’re interested in the history of sport, apartheid and spineless administrators you will find it interesting.

In Part 2 I will look at what else you can buy with £32 million.

 

 

 

Another day, another defeat

Nottingham Outlaws played Beverley on Saturday, coming off a run of nine defeats. I got there ten minutes after kick off and they were already ten points down, having been undone twice by cross field kicks.

The trouble is that the lads from Yorkshire, even the weightier ones (and at least two of them were built like competitive eaters rather than athletes), grow up with Rugby League, but many of our team tend to be tactically naive. As you can see from the table, they can score tries, despite this. Unfortunately, we can’t stop the opposition from scoring, and often help them by dropping the ball.

Despite the run of defeats we are still putting a team out every week. That’s more than you can say for one of the other teams, which has now dropped out.

I’ll leave it to the match report to give details. If you think it’s critical of the referee, I assure you it’s mild compared to the comments made by people from both sides on Saturday.

 

I don’t normally have a go at refs as they do a tough job and there would be no games without them. Despite having qualified as a ref in both codes I am actually incapable of thinking, seeing, running, deciding and whistling at the same time and admire anyone who can.

However, the referee did not have a great day, failing to play advantage, missing several infringements and penalising several imagined infringements. He also made a mess of the timekeeping.  To be fair though, I have seen far worse.

It was good in parts (we led twice), it only rained part of the time and everyone likes a good moan at the ref. Plus we got a chance to build character, even if we would have preferred to win.

And that’s about it – just another average Saturday for the amateur sportsmen of Britain.

 

 

 

Sharlston Rovers v Nottingham Outlaws

It was always going to be a stiff test today because Sharlston Rovers are a long-established club. Founded around 1881, they won their first cup in 1895 (The Wakefield and District Cup) and have an impressive record of winning and producing professional players, including three winners of the Lance Todd Trophy.

Outlaws  were founded in 1999. We won a few things, notably the Harry Jepson Trophy in 2008. I say “we”, though my role in the victory was confined to a bit of light spectating and the offering of advice to the match officials, who completely ignored me.

Despite the lack of history and pedigree we didn’t look too bad for most of the time.

It’s hard playing Rugby League in Yorkshire, because they grow up playing it, where most of the Outlaws come to it via Rugby Union. The two games may seem similar, but they are quite different in places and it sometimes shows.

There are other differences, but this might not be the time or place to mention my views on Yorkshire Rugby League.

We arrived about ten minutes late to find that the skies were blue and Outlaws were in the lead. Neither would last.

First the rain came, then Sharlston equalised. We scored again, but missed the kick, and when Sharlston scored again they nailed the kick to lead by two points.

We exhibited a certain amount of defensive frailty, as they say and fell six more points behind. At that point the crowd started to relax and the whining stopped (there’s nothing as whiney as a Yorkshireman under pressure).

This proved to be the story of the second half too, as our continuing defensive troubles allowed Sharlston in a couple more times. We kept them under pressure and forced several schoolboy errors, like a long pass to the wing that went into touch. Embarrassing.

Having played RL in Yorkshire for several years Number Two son clapped that error in a display of Yorkshire sportsmanship. He knows how to twist the knife.

The best part of the day was seeing one of our players make his First Team debut. He started as an Under 9 and Number One son used to coach him. It was worth the trip just to see that and hear Number One son say “I’m feeling very old now”.

I know that feeling.

It was a trip down memory lane for Number Two son too. During his Yorkshire playing days he’d been carded by today’s ref and been in a fight with one of the Sharlston players (who was then playing for Featherstone Lions).

I am such a proud parent.

Final score 26 – 10. It was closer than the score suggests for most of the match.

 

 

 

 

 

Rain, Rugby League and the Royal Artillery

Yes, it’s that time of year again, the opening of the summer Rugby League season. In theory it doesn’t really start for Nottingham Outlaws until 1st April when they play their first game in the Yorkshire Men’s League. It’s going to be quite a test, and interesting to see. We’ve beaten Yorkshire teams before, but this is a step up in class so we will have to see what happens.

Today it was the seventh Heroes Trophy match, an annual fixture against the Royal Artillery. It marked our fourth win in seven years, and was an excellent match despite the wintry conditions. I say “our” though, of course, I confined my part in the match to a spot of gentle supporting from the sidelines.

Obviously I shared some of the team’s discomfort, as it was wet and cold, and I didn’t get a cup of tea for over 80 minutes, though I didn’t have to cope with the hostile intentions of an 18 stone Gunner.

As I said to Number 1 son, who was visiting for the weekend, a summer season is all very well, but it does depend on the weather cooperating. It wasn’t a great day for photography: there wasn’t enough light for decent photographs, and water on the lens really didn’t help either.

Roll on summer…