Welcome to the RedVee.Net forums!

By registering with us, you'll be able to discuss Rugby League, chat all things Saints and share opinions with other RedVee.Net members.

SignUp Now!

Mergers/ Going out of business!

But it isn't a poor product. It's never been a poor product. Eddie Hearn was asked about the commercial viability of rugby league. He said - point blank - "Without personalities it has none". The average rugby league fan brought up on the sport will very often stick with it through thick and thin. Sure, there will be some years where they don't go to matches. Don't buy a season ticket. Or even watch games (maybe when they get married, have children, finances are tight etc). But it'll always be there for them to return to whenever personal circumstances dictate.

But to attract new fans in large numbers you need personalities for them to gravitate towards and personal rivalries. Nothing sells with as much success. People are far too wrapped up with the concept of the sport without recognising that a fundamental component of sport is entertainment. Martin Offiah was a great player not just because he was fast, immensely talented and a winner. He also had a huge personality and expressed himself on the field and infront of the cameras. People couldn't get enough of Alex Murphy - on a national stage - not just because he was a great player. What attracted folk to Murphy was vicarious entertainment. Freakishly talented with a mouth that functioned as a force multiplier. Men wanted to be him. Women wanted to be with him. Shove a mic in his face and he always had something to say. The home fans cheered on his antics whilst rivals couldn't wait to see him fail. Hell - they're STILL talking about his bet to jump off Runcorn bridge TODAY! Just as they laugh about Murphy telling Raudonikis he was the second best player on the pitch. "What we do in life echoes through eternity" ... two simple offhand comments which have echoed through the sport for decades.

Ask fans to name their favourite players. Mine are Tommy Martyn, Sean Long, Louie, Jack Welsby and a few others. What's the common denominator? Ask rival fans which Saints players they HATED. It'll be a pretty similar list. Why? Because these were/are great players who expressed personalities which you either love or loathe. And when two players on opposite teams start winding each other up - light the blue touch paper, stand back and wait for it to explode.

"Knock on Tommy", Louie getting into the faces of pie eaters every time he played at the JJB, Sean Long running around with St. Bernard's head on his shoulders, Kevin Ward hiking up his shorts every time he got mad and began running wild. Ask a Warrington fan to name his favourite moments on a rugby field. I guarantee many will include Tommy Martyn getting the ball reefed out at Wilderspool and the look of suprise on his face. It's stuff like this which fuels passion in fans. Ask a pie-eater and they will talk far more about Morgan Smithies and pals getting into the face of Jack Welsby than they will about the game!

Until the sport finds a way of encouraging players to express their personalities (instead of running around like faceless automatons) it'll never arrest the slide. Can the rules of the game be improved? Sure. But the gains you'll make are several orders of magnitude below the investment viewers will have in two personalities butting heads.
RL isn't a poor product but I don't think its a attractive a product now as it has been in the past.

The game still has personalities but the game is so sanitized that the majority of games are like watching 2 teams of robots undertaking pre-programmed game plans. There aren't any genuine 'maverick' players in SL any more, week after week even the most highly skilled like Welsby stick to a rigid game plan based on field position, possession and territory. Entertainment is secondary to results and Stats. and players are almost afraid to step outside this and entertain like they could do.

We're never going to go back to the era of 'the biff' where a good punch up would get the fans on their feet and turn the atmosphere from a doctors waiting room to a roman gladiators fight with the crowd baying for blood in an instant.
So the sport needs to find another way of selling the product. We still have supreme athletes and the basics of a game that can entertain the crowd. Coaches wont change in order to entertain more so the RFL needs to make changes that will force the game to provide better entertainment value.


A couple more to add to your list JM of entertaining moments we'll never see the likes of again.
Shane Cooper picking up a 2nd ball from the ball boy, putting it up his shirt and then running back onto the pitch and into play with it to confuse both the Ref and the opposition. Can't remember who the opposition team was just that they were getting on top and Coopers stunt stopped play, killed all their momentum and Saints went on to win the game.

Also remember a game in the 80's against Oldham at the Watersheddings. Can't remember exactly who their half back was, think it was Mike Ford, but he was having an absolute blinder and Roy Haggerty just walked up to him miles way from where play was happening and knocked him out cold then rand back into the line and just carried on like nothing had happened. The crowd saw it and went mad but neither the Ref or touch judges did so the game just continued and Oldham lost their best player on the day.
 
But it isn't a poor product. It's never been a poor product. Eddie Hearn was asked about the commercial viability of rugby league. He said - point blank - "Without personalities it has none". The average rugby league fan brought up on the sport will very often stick with it through thick and thin. Sure, there will be some years where they don't go to matches. Don't buy a season ticket. Or even watch games (maybe when they get married, have children, finances are tight etc). But it'll always be there for them to return to whenever personal circumstances dictate.

But to attract new fans in large numbers you need personalities for them to gravitate towards and personal rivalries. Nothing sells with as much success. People are far too wrapped up with the concept of the sport without recognising that a fundamental component of sport is entertainment. Martin Offiah was a great player not just because he was fast, immensely talented and a winner. He also had a huge personality and expressed himself on the field and infront of the cameras. People couldn't get enough of Alex Murphy - on a national stage - not just because he was a great player. What attracted folk to Murphy was vicarious entertainment. Freakishly talented with a mouth that functioned as a force multiplier. Men wanted to be him. Women wanted to be with him. Shove a mic in his face and he always had something to say. The home fans cheered on his antics whilst rivals couldn't wait to see him fail. Hell - they're STILL talking about his bet to jump off Runcorn bridge TODAY! Just as they laugh about Murphy telling Raudonikis he was the second best player on the pitch. "What we do in life echoes through eternity" ... two simple offhand comments which have echoed through the sport for decades.

Ask fans to name their favourite players. Mine are Tommy Martyn, Sean Long, Louie, Jack Welsby and a few others. What's the common denominator? Ask rival fans which Saints players they HATED. It'll be a pretty similar list. Why? Because these were/are great players who expressed personalities which you either love or loathe. And when two players on opposite teams start winding each other up - light the blue touch paper, stand back and wait for it to explode.

"Knock on Tommy", Louie getting into the faces of pie eaters every time he played at the JJB, Sean Long running around with St. Bernard's head on his shoulders, Kevin Ward hiking up his shorts every time he got mad and began running wild. Ask a Warrington fan to name his favourite moments on a rugby field. I guarantee many will include Tommy Martyn getting the ball reefed out at Wilderspool and the look of suprise on his face. It's stuff like this which fuels passion in fans. Ask a pie-eater and they will talk far more about Morgan Smithies and pals getting into the face of Jack Welsby than they will about the game!

Until the sport finds a way of encouraging players to express their personalities (instead of running around like faceless automatons) it'll never arrest the slide. Can the rules of the game be improved? Sure. But the gains you'll make are several orders of magnitude below the investment viewers will have in two personalities butting heads.
There are big personalities in the game - I give you Hurrell as an example. It’s difficult, even for an opposition fan, not to notice him but he remains a relatively unknown personality because the game isn’t watched by a big enough audience. If Welsby was a footballer, he’d be a nationally known figure but he isn’t known by many outside Rugby League circles because the game isn’t in the general public’s consciousness. It seems to me that the game needs to grow in the public consciousness before its personalities are noticed and I think that means that the casual TV viewer needs to find it gripping. I think the entertainment/personality argument may be circular.

I don’t know who the NBA player you mention is. I don’t watch basketball (?) and its players mean nothing to me. If I found the game gripping and watched it, I’d doubtless know who they all are.

It’s irrelevant but aren’t all the Widnes Bridge stories about Vinty Kauralius not Alex Murphy? More relevant is the fact that Rugby League’s greatest personality, as far as the wider public were concerned, was Eddie Wareing. When I was a child we had heroes like Voll and Murphy but I don’t even know how well they were known in the West Midlands or London. Eddie Wareing was known - he even had a bit part on the Morecambe and Wise Show for heavens sake.

You probably won’t change your mind but I still think improving the game would add to its following.
 
Last edited:
There are big personalities in the game - I give you Hurrell as an example. It’s difficult, even for an opposition fan, not to notice him but he remains a relatively unknown personality because the game isn’t watched by a big enough audience. If Welsby was a footballer, he’d be a nationally known figure but he isn’t known by many outside Rugby League circles because the game isn’t in the general public’s consciousness. It seems to me that the game needs to grow in the public consciousness before its personalities are noticed and I think that means that the casual TV viewer needs to find it gripping. I think the entertainment/personality argument may be circular.

I don’t know who the NBA player you mention is. I don’t watch basketball (?) and its players mean nothing to me. If I found the game gripping and watched it, I’d doubtless know who they all are.

It’s irrelevant but aren’t all the Widnes Bridge stories about Vinty Kauralius not Alex Murphy? More relevant is the fact that Rugby League’s greatest personality, as far as the wider public were concerned, was Eddie Wareing. When I was a child we had heroes like Voll and Murphy but I don’t even know how well they were known in the West Midlands or London. Eddie Wareing as known - he even had a bit part on the Morecambe and Wise Show for heavens sake.

You probably won’t change your mind but I still think improving the game would add to its following.
It's not a question of whether or not I will change my mind. The game can be improved by tinkering with a few rules. I've no problem with it. But people are deluding themselves if they think there is some kind of Perfect Form of rugby league which will have speccies breaking down the doors to attend. Take Latrell Mitchell for example. We can argue about how great a player he is (or was). But what cannot be disputed is the fact that he's Box Office. Just as Reece Walsh (another player with a big personality) is also. Throw an event for these two players and people will turn up in their droves - either to support or hate on them. Reece in particular is a fantastic player. But no better than Tommy Turbo at his peak. Unfortunately Tommy just doesn't have the personality to elevate to the level of mega-star. Sam Burgess had that. Sonny Bill had it, too.

I agree with St. Toopy that personality has very much been drained away from our sport. Coaches see such as a distraction and players who work the crowd are often deemed to be problematic.

I'll give you another example. Four seasons ago the former NFL great, Deion Sanders, took over as coach of Jackson State University in the lower leagues of college football. It's what's known as a HBCU (Historically Black College & University). At the time hardly anyone was turning up. They didn't even have proper training facilities. Within weeks of arriving Sanders' effervescent personality had spectators queuing out the door. Major players who previously wouldn't be seen DEAD at such a university instantly bought in and the #1 recruit in the country, Travis Hunter, turned down all of the powerhouse NCAA teams in favour of Jackson. Within the first year Sanders attracted millions of dollars of investment. He helped get constructed cutting edge facilities which rivalled those at the top teams. Jackson State went from being perennial losers to winning the title. All off the personality of one man.

Eighteen months ago Sanders left to join another failing college - Colorado Buffaloes. Within two weeks they sold out for the entire year. Ticket sales - up 51%. Merchandise sales - up 1,250%. Sanders cleared out the playing roster (which had won two games the season prior) and immediately began a rebuild. They had some modest success but it's taken until this season before he's managed to put together a squad which can challenge the big college football teams. Now the Colorado Buffaloes are a juggernaut. TV companies which would never have touched their games previously are now putting them on at prime time. Sponsors are falling over themselves to get a piece of the action. And all because of one man with a very big personality.
 
Instead of using instances in American sports to show a demonstrable fact look instead at your own examples in Rugby League in this country. How many fans did Tommy Martin, Kevin Ward, LMS and even Alex Murphy add to Saints crowds. I don’t think Martin Offiahs personality added anything to Widnes or Wigan it was more his talent contributing to a style of play which in turn brought success that brought in the crowds.
Without large scale TV coverage nobody has a clue what is going on in any sport. How many people watched Women’s football before it was covered on TV, I don’t think it was any personalities that started bringing the crowds in. It was an entertaining sport that TV decided to cover.
 
Lot of good points made on both sides of this debate, which probably goes to show that the truth is that both assets are needed and complement each other. It's clearly the case that big personalities will give any game a boost, but that boost will be magnified if the game is already popular amongst a mass audience.

Personally I feel that there is not much about RL at the moment to attract anyone outside the die-hards, partly as a result of increasing (and justifiable) concern for the health of its player (which has reduced its 'gladiatorial' attraction) and partly as a result of the (less justifiable) sterility of its tactics, and that the latter is the place to start.

In the past the RL has acted when the game has ceased to be attractive to the paying speccies, from reducing the number of players to 13, through introducing the (4 then) 6 tackle rule and more recently eg. penalising the long kick dead. If the RL took serious action eg. to speed up the ruck again I can't help think that it would give talent like Welsby a greater opportunity to display his skills before an increasing audience and a better chance of becoming the kind of national star we all feel he's entitled to be - but I no longer have any confidence in the RL's ability to get a grip on any situation.
 
There are big personalities in the game - I give you Hurrell as an example. It’s difficult, even for an opposition fan, not to notice him but he remains a relatively unknown personality because the game isn’t watched by a big enough audience. If Welsby was a footballer, he’d be a nationally known figure but he isn’t known by many outside Rugby League circles because the game isn’t in the general public’s consciousness. It seems to me that the game needs to grow in the public consciousness before its personalities are noticed and I think that means that the casual TV viewer needs to find it gripping. I think the entertainment/personality argument may be circular.

I don’t know who the NBA player you mention is. I don’t watch basketball (?) and its players mean nothing to me. If I found the game gripping and watched it, I’d doubtless know who they all are.

It’s irrelevant but aren’t all the Widnes Bridge stories about Vinty Kauralius not Alex Murphy? More relevant is the fact that Rugby League’s greatest personality, as far as the wider public were concerned, was Eddie Wareing. When I was a child we had heroes like Voll and Murphy but I don’t even know how well they were known in the West Midlands or London. Eddie Wareing was known - he even had a bit part on the Morecambe and Wise Show for heavens sake.

You probably won’t change your mind but I still think improving the game would add to its following.
I agree that improving the game would help, but above all a well known, nationally recognised, “face” of rugby league would make a bigger difference. Better still if the person was also a natural entertainer. A sort of Ant and Dec or even a Nigel Farridge of rugby league.

If it was Nigel Farridge I might have start watching rugby union!!!:sick:
 
It's not a question of whether or not I will change my mind. The game can be improved by tinkering with a few rules. I've no problem with it. But people are deluding themselves if they think there is some kind of Perfect Form of rugby league which will have speccies breaking down the doors to attend. Take Latrell Mitchell for example. We can argue about how great a player he is (or was). But what cannot be disputed is the fact that he's Box Office. Just as Reece Walsh (another player with a big personality) is also. Throw an event for these two players and people will turn up in their droves - either to support or hate on them. Reece in particular is a fantastic player. But no better than Tommy Turbo at his peak. Unfortunately Tommy just doesn't have the personality to elevate to the level of mega-star. Sam Burgess had that. Sonny Bill had it, too.

I agree with St. Toopy that personality has very much been drained away from our sport. Coaches see such as a distraction and players who work the crowd are often deemed to be problematic.

I'll give you another example. Four seasons ago the former NFL great, Deion Sanders, took over as coach of Jackson State University in the lower leagues of college football. It's what's known as a HBCU (Historically Black College & University). At the time hardly anyone was turning up. They didn't even have proper training facilities. Within weeks of arriving Sanders' effervescent personality had spectators queuing out the door. Major players who previously wouldn't be seen DEAD at such a university instantly bought in and the #1 recruit in the country, Travis Hunter, turned down all of the powerhouse NCAA teams in favour of Jackson. Within the first year Sanders attracted millions of dollars of investment. He helped get constructed cutting edge facilities which rivalled those at the top teams. Jackson State went from being perennial losers to winning the title. All off the personality of one man.

Eighteen months ago Sanders left to join another failing college - Colorado Buffaloes. Within two weeks they sold out for the entire year. Ticket sales - up 51%. Merchandise sales - up 1,250%. Sanders cleared out the playing roster (which had won two games the season prior) and immediately began a rebuild. They had some modest success but it's taken until this season before he's managed to put together a squad which can challenge the big college football teams. Now the Colorado Buffaloes are a juggernaut. TV companies which would never have touched their games previously are now putting them on at prime time. Sponsors are falling over themselves to get a piece of the action. And all because of one man with a very big personality.
My change of mind phrase was badly worded. I really meant I don’t think we’ll agree about this.

I hate the expression but I think the product on field matters most. Get the game noticed and the personalities will be noticed. There are personalities. I’ve mentioned Hurrell but Jake Connor would be a great Marmite character. A few years ago Sam Tomkins was relatively well known, was mentioned in RU circles, played for the Barbarians (as part of Unions’ attempt to attract him) and appeared in a Sky advert with Bradley Wiggins. However, I don’t think his being relatively (slightly) well known had an effect on growth or even on attendances at Wigan.

If the sport is to grow, I think Roger Moore is right we need better TV coverage but we also need to ensure casual viewers watch something that they find gripping.
 
Instead of using instances in American sports to show a demonstrable fact look instead at your own examples in Rugby League in this country. How many fans did Tommy Martin, Kevin Ward, LMS and even Alex Murphy add to Saints crowds. I don’t think Martin Offiahs personality added anything to Widnes or Wigan it was more his talent contributing to a style of play which in turn brought success that brought in the crowds.
Without large scale TV coverage nobody has a clue what is going on in any sport. How many people watched Women’s football before it was covered on TV, I don’t think it was any personalities that started bringing the crowds in. It was an entertaining sport that TV decided to cover.
You mean the same Martin Offiah who was constantly on national TV giving the sport a much needed boost in PR? Ask Saints fans from back in the day what difference Alex Murphy made. The same Alex Murphy who was also nationally recognised, appeared regularly on TV and routinely wrote for major newspapers. The fact that my examples are taken from America is irrelevant. I could apply the same argument across UK or European sports.

Were Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Prince Naseem paid millions of pounds because they were just good fighters? Hell no! Plenty of great fighters would struggle to sell out a phone booth! People tuned into these people because of the showmanship, the rivalries. Several years ago the great super-bantamweight/featherweight champion, Marco Antonio-Barrera, was asked whether he still harboured any ill will toward Prince Naz after he beat him in the US. Barrera's answer was illuminating, "If it wasn't for Prince Naseem nobody in this division would be making much more than six figures. I and everyone who has followed at the lower weights are eternally grateful to him for what he did. Now we are paid close to what heavyweights can expect. Before Naz we were all poor".

Consider the MMA pre- and post-Conor McGregor. Before McGregor they were struggling to compete with boxing. After McGregor arrived they were selling out 90,000 seat stadiums. Was it because Conor was such a great fighter? I mean, he was good. But nowhere near the best we've seen.

Consider the Jude Bellingham effect at Real Madrid. They always have a stellar roster. And plenty of players who one might consider to be superior to Jude. But Bellingham is Box Office. He's passionate. Engages with the fans. Speaks Spanish. They can't print shirts fast enough for the demand. Half of Madrid would consider him for canonization if they could!
 
RL isn't a poor product but I don't think its a attractive a product now as it has been in the past.

The game still has personalities but the game is so sanitized that the majority of games are like watching 2 teams of robots undertaking pre-programmed game plans. There aren't any genuine 'maverick' players in SL any more, week after week even the most highly skilled like Welsby stick to a rigid game plan based on field position, possession and territory. Entertainment is secondary to results and Stats. and players are almost afraid to step outside this and entertain like they could do.

We're never going to go back to the era of 'the biff' where a good punch up would get the fans on their feet and turn the atmosphere from a doctors waiting room to a roman gladiators fight with the crowd baying for blood in an instant.
So the sport needs to find another way of selling the product. We still have supreme athletes and the basics of a game that can entertain the crowd. Coaches wont change in order to entertain more so the RFL needs to make changes that will force the game to provide better entertainment value.


Agree wholeheartedly.

Players with personality are rarely now able/allowed to express their personalities on the pitch.

RL had a golden opportunity to market the game in the early years of SL. Sky were onboard and presenting a premium product; the game was open and dominated by attack; London were doing well and with the expansion with the Summer Conference building national interest; there were players with personalities expressing themselves; crowds were up year-on-year and TV viewing figures strong.

And how did those involved in the game respond?

The 'traditional heartland clubs' that were out of SL whined about being excluded. Their fans whined about the sport thinking more of expanding than looking after 'traditional heartland clubs' (even though they'd had decades to get it right, and still failed, with 3-figure crowds the norm); those running the amateur game in the heartlands whined about the Summer Conference. Even many fans of SL clubs whined about too many tries being scored.

Then the RL authorities decided that entertaining rugby wasn't something they wanted after all, so changed the rules to allow defenders 5 minutes to clear the ruck to allow defensive lines to be well-set, so players have to run headlong into brick walls (and I absolutely despise that 'surrender tackle rule' , which gives defenders 10 minutes)

The game became dull and predictable. A few teams temporarily bucked the trend (that Cas side under Powell; us under Holbrook) and a few players like Benny Barba lit up the game regardless. But it's taken a revision of the rules by the RFL - after 15 years - to bring some zip back into the sport as an entertainment spectacle. And even then, one side in particular gets carte blanche to keep on with the old rules of taking a nap on the tackled player almost every game.
 
You mean the same Martin Offiah who was constantly on national TV giving the sport a much needed boost in PR? Ask Saints fans from back in the day what difference Alex Murphy made. The same Alex Murphy who was also nationally recognised, appeared regularly on TV and routinely wrote for major newspapers. The fact that my examples are taken from America is irrelevant. I could apply the same argument across UK or European sports.

Were Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Prince Naseem paid millions of pounds because they were just good fighters? Hell no! Plenty of great fighters would struggle to sell out a phone booth! People tuned into these people because of the showmanship, the rivalries. Several years ago the great super-bantamweight/featherweight champion, Marco Antonio-Barrera, was asked whether he still harboured any ill will toward Prince Naz after he beat him in the US. Barrera's answer was illuminating, "If it wasn't for Prince Naseem nobody in this division would be making much more than six figures. I and everyone who has followed at the lower weights are eternally grateful to him for what he did. Now we are paid close to what heavyweights can expect. Before Naz we were all poor".

Consider the MMA pre- and post-Conor McGregor. Before McGregor they were struggling to compete with boxing. After McGregor arrived they were selling out 90,000 seat stadiums. Was it because Conor was such a great fighter? I mean, he was good. But nowhere near the best we've seen.

Consider the Jude Bellingham effect at Real Madrid. They always have a stellar roster. And plenty of players who one might consider to be superior to Jude. But Bellingham is Box Office. He's passionate. Engages with the fans. Speaks Spanish. They can't print shirts fast enough for the demand. Half of Madrid would consider him for canonization if they could!
I may not agree with it all but your last sentence made me smile.
 
If I could change one thing about the sport I'd allow the broadcasters to include the microphone feed from both the ref and the various directional mics at the ground. Cut out the bits which relate to play calls and some of the spicier language. But include all the rest after the edits have taken place. Give fans a real window into what goes on on a rugby pitch. That would definitely throw the cat amongst the pigeons. I'd pay MONEY to listen to Jack Welsby and Bevan French going at each other all game. Sign me up!
 
I'd like to see:

A return to pre-2008 rules on the PTB and scrapping of the 'surrender tackle' rule
Touch judges mark the 10m defensive line and police it (raise their flag for offsides). The ref to remain at the ruck/PTB to police that
Scrap the on-field try/no try ref call on VR referrals (I reckon every other fan would be onboard with that)
 
I'd like to see:

A return to pre-2008 rules on the PTB and scrapping of the 'surrender tackle' rule
Touch judges mark the 10m defensive line and police it (raise their flag for offsides). The ref to remain at the ruck/PTB to police that
Scrap the on-field try/no try ref call on VR referrals (I reckon every other fan would be onboard with that)
I think that would be a good improvement and add in a couple of Captains' Challenges each match
 
RL isn't a poor product but I don't think its a attractive a product now as it has been in the past.

The game still has personalities but the game is so sanitized that the majority of games are like watching 2 teams of robots undertaking pre-programmed game plans. There aren't any genuine 'maverick' players in SL any more, week after week even the most highly skilled like Welsby stick to a rigid game plan based on field position, possession and territory. Entertainment is secondary to results and Stats. and players are almost afraid to step outside this and entertain like they could do.

We're never going to go back to the era of 'the biff' where a good punch up would get the fans on their feet and turn the atmosphere from a doctors waiting room to a roman gladiators fight with the crowd baying for blood in an instant.
So the sport needs to find another way of selling the product. We still have supreme athletes and the basics of a game that can entertain the crowd. Coaches wont change in order to entertain more so the RFL needs to make changes that will force the game to provide better entertainment value.


A couple more to add to your list JM of entertaining moments we'll never see the likes of again.
Shane Cooper picking up a 2nd ball from the ball boy, putting it up his shirt and then running back onto the pitch and into play with it to confuse both the Ref and the opposition. Can't remember who the opposition team was just that they were getting on top and Coopers stunt stopped play, killed all their momentum and Saints went on to win the game.

Also remember a game in the 80's against Oldham at the Watersheddings. Can't remember exactly who their half back was, think it was Mike Ford, but he was having an absolute blinder and Roy Haggerty just walked up to him miles way from where play was happening and knocked him out cold then rand back into the line and just carried on like nothing had happened. The crowd saw it and went mad but neither the Ref or touch judges did so the game just continued and Oldham lost their best player on the day.
The Cooper 2 ball distraction brilliance was at Naughton Park v Widnes
I too remember Haggy at Oldham but also can’t remember who he dropped.
Another Haggy belter was when we had a phase of fullbacks kicking to each other with everyone else stood still as they were offside, Haggy clearly had had enough broke rank & flattened the full back 😂
 
For me the Eddie Hearn comments cannot be understated. Here you have a highly-successful promotor of multiple sports flat out telling you the game cannot be sold without personalities. And Hearn should know. Where did his old man make his money? Snooker. Barrie understood the importance of rivalries. Before Alex "Hurricane" Higgins snooker wasn't even considered a sport by many. It had something of a seedy reputation. A game played in dingy smoke-filled clubs by shady characters.

Alex Higgins coupled with the BBC Pot Black show changed all that. Prior to Higgins snooker players were considered to be reserved, staid personalities who hardly uttered a word and couldn't sell snow to Eskimos. Higgins blew that model up completely. And Barrie was smart enough to realize his new young starlet, Steve Davis, was the perfect foil for Higgins. Davis was an incredibly reserved character early in his career. But Hearn understood he could play Davis off against Higgins (as well as the new breed of players such as Jimmy White) and the fans would lap it up. Within just a few short years snooker went from near total obscurity to pulling in 20+ million viewers on BBC 1. But without Higgins they would still be stuck in smoke-filled rooms playing tricks shots for £50.
 
Last edited:
The Cooper 2 ball distraction brilliance was at Naughton Park v Widnes
I too remember Haggy at Oldham but also can’t remember who he dropped.
Another Haggy belter was when we had a phase of fullbacks kicking to each other with everyone else stood still as they were offside, Haggy clearly had had enough broke rank & flattened the full back 😂
I remember the mass brawl that kicked off between Saints and Featherstone at Knowsley Road. 25 players all throwing haymakers whilst Cooper picked the ball up, casually strolled down the pitch and then placed the ball down under the Featherstone posts. Sport has always been less about the game than the moments. And it's those moments ("Knock-on Tommy!") which live on in people's memories long after the performance has faded. Who here doesn't get pumped when Tommy Martyn starts gesticulating at the ref, "He reefed it out!!!". Tommy sold that like his life depended on it. Everyone in the stadium knew what he was getting at. Another player and maybe that video call doesn't get made.
 
I remember the mass brawl that kicked off between Saints and Featherstone at Knowsley Road. 25 players all throwing haymakers whilst Cooper picked the ball up, casually strolled down the pitch and then placed the ball down under the Featherstone posts. Sport has always been less about the game than the moments. And it's those moments ("Knock-on Tommy!") which live on in people's memories long after the performance has faded. Who here doesn't get pumped when Tommy Martyn starts gesticulating at the ref, "He reefed it out!!!". Tommy sold that like his life depended on it. Everyone in the stadium knew what he was getting at. Another player and maybe that video call doesn't get made.
I remember that too. Colin Morris was the ref he was the most biased ref against us I have ever seen. He lost control of every game I ever saw him ref where we were involved
 
As I said originally you have your opinion I have mine. Looks like we'll never agree. In relation to fact's you put your interpretation on them, I'll have my own. Yes Offiah was never off telly particularly in his Wigan days and yes he had a high profile. Still on quite a lot now. Was that due to his personality or the fact he was an exceptional player who was the most expensive player in history at a dominating team. The year prior to Offiah going to Wigan their average attendance was 14,040. the highest average whilst he was there was 14,553 and that was due in as much to Wigan's success as to all the coverage Offiah got. Not earth shattering improvement in a debate about putting bums on seats.
Were Benn, Prince Naseem and Eubank great fighters, Yes, they were all world champions or double world champions. In the case of Benn and Eubank they also had a great rivalry. Do you think they would have got great TV coverage or great attendances for their personality if they were fighting at Parr baths.
This could go on for ever, you stick with your opinions, thought's facts, quotes, My last post on this matter.
 
I can think of one sports personality who got the uninitiated watching - Cassius Clay/Mohammed Ali. His pre-fight rhymes, catch phrases, cheek and talk show performances got non-boxing fans interested. I think he was a one off though. I think a lot of people expected Sonny Liston to floor him in their first fight but he proved that he could match his words with action.
 
I can think of one sports personality who got the uninitiated watching - Cassius Clay/Mohammed Ali. His pre-fight rhymes, catch phrases, cheek and talk show performances got non-boxing fans interested. I think he was a one off though. I think a lot of people expected Sonny Liston to floor him in their first fight but he proved that he could match his words with action.
Yep. Ali sent viewers, revenue and TV coverage SKY rocketing. He was an outstanding fighter. But had he the personality of Sonny Liston - nobody would give a damn. At the time very few people knew of Ali. But the response to his outrageous braggadocio was fascinating. It split fight fans into two diametrically opposed camps - one which thought he was a breath of fresh air and another that couldn't wait to see Liston knock his ass out.

Speaking of Ali - I can think of another character with outrageous personality traits which lit up British sport - Brian Clough. I still maintain the guy is the greatest manager of all time. I accept that he doesn't have the resume of a Ferguson or a Paisley. But what Clough did - through pure force of personality - was nothing short of astonishing. Not only did he put bums on seats at Derby and Forest - two teams with not much history of success - he won the league at both against the giants of the sport (Liverpool, Leeds etc.) with a hodge-podge of players brought in from near and far. I mean, the guy won two European Cups with Forest. Mind-boggling. And he should have had a third after Forest were dumped out in the semi-finals where the referee was subsequently discovered to have taken a bribe. Clough was absolute box-office. The cameras couldn't get enough of him and whenever he appeared he always had something interesting to say and a sparkle in his eye. There are ex-players today who are still dining out on Brian Clough stories in after-dinner speaking engagements.
 
Back
Top Bottom