Talking Sport: Pre-season attendances are encouraging

Trevor Watson
Trevor Watson

Rugby league fans give the impression they can’t get enough of the old game.

How else can you explain some encouraging attendances at pre-season matches on a bitter day when you would hesitate to send the wife out for your morning paper?

Let’s face it, the games are only warm-ups and the idea of teams playing as many as nine or 10 subs shouldn’t hold much appeal. Yet attendances in most cases have been surprisingly good, led inevitably by nearly 10,000 at Hull for the Codhead derby.

It may be that in these days when a club’s squad is changed more often than your socks, supporters are wanting to assess the new players and there are always plenty of them.

A few punch-ups and sin-bins have added to the atmospheres as players sought to get the rust out of their systems. Pity the poor refs trying to find a balance between keeping everybody on the field and needing to dish out discipline, which would not be appreciated.

Batley Bulldogs are already in action for the third time on Sunday when they meet a Heavy Woollen Select at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium, or The Mount if you prefer.

Good to see the company back supporting the club. A few years ago they gave valuable help to rugby and cricket.

Former Batley favourite Danny Maun is coach to the local amateurs and will always be welcome after great service to the Bulldogs. He’s a keen follower of local rugby and might be tempted to consider coaching when his playing career is over.

Interesting to see Bulldogs’ coach John Kear intends using some trialists and is keeping their names under wraps. That’s a reminder of the days when amateurs or rugby union players had trials and were famously listed as AN Other and SO Else, although in many cases their identities were well known.

At that time RU lads could be banned from the code for life for even talking to RL officials. Now union is paying out more money than league. Times change.

Footballers are being asked to examine their consciences (ho, ho) about diving in the penalty area. It’s embarrassing because former players are openly saying that the slightest touch by an opponent caused them to go flying and they won many penalties as a result. Try and stop that.

By the way I gather that flat caps, as modelled by manager Chris Powell, are official merchandise at Hudds Town. Last weekend Burnley boss Sean Dyche and Alan Pardew, of Palace, steadfastly refused to cover their heads, despite rain, sleet and snow at Turf Moor and Pardew refused to use the hood on his anorak. Town should send them a cap apiece together with a picture of a warm Chris Powell.

One bloke who seemed to have a cap over his eyes was the ref’s assistant, who quite clearly wrongly disallowed a Tottenham goal for offside. I bet he took some stick on Monday morning.