I ENJOY a pint or so of real ale. Luckily Sheffield is one of the best places to live if you like to raise a glass and there’s quite a choice of tipple.
In fact a lot of the thinking for this column is done as I walk to the Rising Sun at Nether Green to meet my Barnsley football fan friend.
Another bonus of living in the Steel City is that this season Sheffield Eagles are playing in what is just about a Yorkshire League.
This didn’t come about because of what happened on the field. Toulouse Olympique decided to stay in France in future and skip having exotic weekends in Dewsbury and the like. Can’t think why. Barrow Raiders achieved relegation through some pretty poor if truly creative accounting.
So the Eagles compete in the 10-team Co-operative Championship, where eight clubs are Yorkshire based. The odd ones out are Lancashire-based Swinton Lions and Leigh Centurions – but they snuggle up by sharing a ground.
Rugby league feels right played at traditional venues but how did Batley’s Mount Pleasant ever get that name? Why change Post Office Road to the Big Fellas stadium? I never get the urge to adopt the national dress of Featherstone – a flat cap.
There is a lack of ‘derby’ games with Doncaster trapped in Championship One. The closest they get this season is across the Snake in Oldham and they face three trips to the bits of Cumbria where Wordsworth certainly didn’t wander lonely as a cloud clutching a bunch of daffodils – Barrow, Whitehaven and Workington.
The Championship got underway last week and all’s well, with the Eagles hammering Swinton 56-22 and the Dons sending Whitehaven packing 48-16. That put both clubs top of their leagues on points difference – well it’s the best way start. On entertainment value the Eagles alone scored 10 tries – that’s just one fewer than six teams of Union boys managed in three internationals.
With the kick-off came the Thursday night Championship live TV game now on Premier Sports – if you have Sky and are ready to fork out even more. I did and watched Leigh and Batley. The new Channel’s ‘major innovation’ is showing the video ref live when taking his decisions.
Video refs at TV games have been around for years in rugby. Decisions are taken quickly and it adds to the drama. I’m sure Mark Hughes and QPR would agree after the ‘no-goal, goal’ at Bolton.
Yes, rugby league fans do feel smug and self-righteous.
There was one unexpected consequence of taking out a Premier Sports subscription. Last week I made some carefully thought out comments about icy hockey. What do I get when I turn on the new channel for the first time? Non-stop icy hockey games from the US of A.
Help! Call the video ref.