Talking Sport with Trevor Watson: Players bend their elbows for new year

TALKING SPORT Trevor Watson.

TALKING SPORT Trevor Watson.

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Plenty of folk will have bent their elbows this week to celebrate the new year but a few elbows seem to be concentrating the minds of those in sport.

England RU international Dylan Hartley was playing for Northampton when he disturbed the features of a Leicester player with his elbow. It was clearly shown on TV and off he went.

It was as blatant as the Ben Flower clout for Wigan in the RL Grand Final against Saints, which caused nationwide hysteria, but Hartley escaped with a three-week ban because there was said to be a ‘degree of provocation,’ so that’s all right then. His coach Jim Mallinder explained: ‘It’s a tough game and Dylan plays to the edge.’

Hartley has previously been banned for eye gouging, biting, punching and swearing at the referee, so it’s a good job he doesn’t go over the edge.

London Irish and London Welsh each had a player sent-off last weekend for a dust-up which involved use of the elbow by both.

More fortunate was one Papiss Cisse, of Newcastle United, who used his elbow to deck Everton’s Seamus Coleman.

He appeared to have two practice swings before connecting but somehow the match officials missed it and soon after Cisse scored. Who said there’s justice in footie?

Despite the whingeing about tired players, Burnley proved a point by picking an unchanged team at Man City, left all 11 on for the full game and earned a notable draw.

The complaint from Premier League managers was that playing on Friday and then Sunday was too much.

Try telling that to shop workers, who are not on 50 grand and much more a week, but were in by 6am on Boxing Day and worked Saturday and Sunday. Hospitals didn’t close either. Tell footballers often enough they’re tired and they start to believe you.

A fair bit of elbow bending at Mount Pleasant on Boxing Day with an excellent crowd of over 2,000 for the Batley-Dewsbury Challenge. What a great idea it has proved, after all the league attendance between the sides at Batley last August was 1,159.

Last Friday’s crowd could be Batley’s best of the season unless big-spending Bradford bring plenty. A close win for the Bulldogs suggests the league meetings with the Rams will be cracking games.

There must have been some envy in rugby league at a crowd of 82,000 at Twickers for the RU league match between Harlequins and Northampton. The RL Cup final struggles to attract so many, which is disappointing.

The BBC are doing a special programme on the FA Cup and among those appearing is political ‘expert’ Russell Brand. He’ll be doing the weather forecast next and still won’t be funny.

Sadly the World Pie Eating competition at Wigan was declared null and void because they used the wrong pies. What with Flower and now pies, it hasn’t been Wigan’s year.