Talking Sport: League makes headlines for wrong reasons

Trevor Watson
Trevor Watson

At least rugby league got the front page publicity it was seeking, pictures and all, with the Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Unfortunately, as is always the case, it was for the wrong reason as a far from delicate Flower, Wigan prop Ben, was sent off after two minutes for punching St Helens half-back Lance Hohaia, who was already flat out.

There is this tendency for teams to get fired up before big matches. Players banging heads against walls, slapping each other around the face - one man lost a tooth when a team mate slapped him - screaming and chanting and music blaring.

I smiled at former Man U star Roy Keane’s book talking of when he was Sunderland manager and the players trotted out after their choice of pre-match music had been Abba’s Dancing Queen. That would certainly get you going.

Wigan moved quickly to get Flower to issue an abject apology and there will be questions regarding Hohaia’s challenge.

It was a pity so far as the showpiece was concerned because it meant St Helens, with a man advantage for so long, didn’t have to try and match Wigan’s open rugby. Once they decided on a head down, no risks style, using their big forwards, they were always going to wear down their opponents. Wigan played all the rugby, made all the clean breaks but lost. Never mind the quality, feel the trophy.

You had to feel pleased for Saints skipper Paul Wellens, who collected the trophy again after five successive final defeats. He has been a great servant and a credit to the club.

Well done also to another winner, Dewsbury Celtic product Alex Walmsley. When you add the three Burgess brothers from Dewsbury Moor, Grand Final winners in Australia, the local amateur game can be proud and some hard workers behind the scenes, who helped in their development, will be delighted.

The rugby was followed by another thumping as Britain’s latest heavyweight boxing prospect, Anthony Joshua, promptly dealt with one Denis Bakhtov.

Denis, looked as if he had just come out of the pub and had a kebab waiting in the dressing room. He has had 47 fights and was said to be durable, which was just as well because he lasted less than two rounds so the kebab would still be warm.

All this excitement tended to overshadow the gripping wins by England’s footie heroes over San Marino and Estonia to stroll towards Euro 2016.

Another two goals for Wayne Rooney takes him nearer Bobby Charlton’s England record. If he’d finished all his chances in those two games he would have been past it. You wonder what the likes of Ronaldo and Suarez would have made of all the one-on-ones.

Am I the only one to take offence against the suggestion that matches against the likes of San Marino should not be played at Wembley.

The pompous attitude is ‘Give these to the peasants oop north and leave the good stuff to us.’