For pure enthusiasm, athletic ability, true grit, skill and excitemnt, rugby league, the 13 a side version of the games, is hard to beat. Friday night I was in a pub watching the televised ENGAGE SUPER LEAGUE match between the top 2 teams, St. Helens v the champions, Leeds Rhinos at the historic 118 year old Knowsley Road Stadium, with a new home due to open in 2011. www.superleague.co.uk
St. Helens, not far from Liverpool, is the home of Pilkingtons, the world renown glass manufacturers, but both teams were as tough as steel. None of those huge namby pamby American grid iron cissies, the result of a mix of the sperm pool and goodness knows what chemicals. These guys run, hit and catch without padding or much rest and it was a contest to remember, with St. Helens giving the Rhinos their first league loss of the season. The SUPER LEAGUE is in its 14th season and changed the season to the summer from the winter, ensuring much better quality fields, climate and skill.
Sunday I bused down to Sheffield to see UNIBOND LEAGUE ONE,SOUTH between Sheffield FC the world's oldest football club and Willenhall Town from near Wolverhampton. They were both mid table teams and it was a mundane match with lots of niggely tackles and fouls. On the way I saw a billboard for a new movie opening that day, LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, and I think I should have opted for that. Anyway, apart from the Pukka Pies on sale there was little to excite the crowd, until near the end, when it came alive at the BRIGHT FINANCE STADIUM in the upmarket suburb of Dronfield.
It looked like 3 points for CLUB when Mickey Goddard scored his first goal of the season, only to see a controversial equaliser for Willenhall, 'The Lockmen' in extra time. Rory May rounded Club goalie Furness but his shot was headed off the line. The referee saw what he thought was the ball hit Gavin Smith's arm. He was sent off and Lee Chilton scored from the spot. However, it was not over for from a long throw-in from Leon Wainman headed on by Mick Goddard to David Graham, who scored the winner with the last kick of the match, much to the delight of the crowd who stormed the gates to be the first in the Coach & Horses pub, owned by CLUB, for the post match celebrations and team get together.
You can me become a member of the club WHERE FOOTBALL KICKED OFF, 152 years ago in 1857 by going to www.sheffieldfc.com and having your name put on the Members Wall of Fame inside the stadium for all to see.
What about Liverpool FC and their chances to dethrone Manchester United for the Premiership title. Stay glued to your TV sets and soccer web sites.