As we squelch into the new year it’s worth pondering some of the exciting expressions that have crept into sport in recent times to improve our watching.
In rugby league teams are no longer in the opposing ’25 (in old yardage) but ‘the red zone’ and passing the ball on the last tackle instead of booting it upfield is a ‘power play.’
In football Liverpool’s German manager is said to have introduced something called ‘gegenpressen’ while the new England RU defence coach, Paul Gustard, is credited with bringing in The Wolf Pack at his club Saracens. Apparently in both cases your team is expected to hound the opposition into mistakes. In less sophisticated times we called it ‘getting stuck in’.
Many moons ago when any one of a dozen teams could win the Rugby League Cup, Featherstone Rovers had their version of the ‘Wolfpack’ because no leading team wanted to be drawn at Post Office Road and Rovers gained notable victories over such as Wigan and St Helens before huge crowds.
In fact when they beat Saints two years running, the attendances were 15,638 and an amazing 17,531 – at Post Office Road don’t forget.
At least Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stuck to some old expressions when his side followed up a ‘perfect’ performance in beating Man City to be stuffed 4-0 at out-of-form Southampton. Wenger explained that the first goal was offside, the second a free-kick and the third a goal-kick not a corner, which suggests it could have been a 0-0 draw. But then he’s French and has probably never been to Featherstone.
In cricket England are getting stuck into the South Africans and things are set for a fascinating Test series. But, as in rugby league, the review system continues to grate and after bowling out the home side England paceman Stuart Broad admitted they had messed up their TV reviews in not challenging a couple of decisions and were unlucky with another.
The festive season would not be complete without the yearly droning from football managers complaining about the hectic holiday programme which gives players no time to recover. They ought to turn those complaints into a carol.
But you won’t find RL clubs complaining with almost 11,000 at Headingley for Leeds v Wakey and again more than 2,000 at Dewsbury on Boxing Day for what has become Batley’s traditional victory in the Roy Powell Trophy.
Both local clubs would give a lot for that attendance to be repeated in the league.
The hardest part is spotting who’s who with all the comings and goings. Batley made it a bit easier by signing a couple of former Dewsbury players from Sheffield in Dom Brambani and Patch Walker.
Back to Southampton and somebody called Cuco Martina scored a sensational goal against Arsenal with a real banana shot. At international level he represents Curacao. It’s food for thought that his goal meant that 93 different nationalities have now scored in the Premiership. And we think ex-Dewsbury players from Sheffield are exotic.