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January 2012 Volume 2 Issue 1
Gongs of praise
Welcome to the first Forty-20of 2012 and here at the alternative voice of rugby league (high-pitched, with a gracenote of Darren Lockyer) we’re not too sure what to make of New Years’ Honours. Maybe when we are presented with our own we’ll formulate an opinion. One thing we do know: if every other bugger can be given them, why not the rugby league great, good and half-decent?
So it was gratifying to hear though not on the national news naturally - that two such personages will be off to Buck House; our current England skipper Jamie ‘Captain’ Peacock (MBE) and Bev Risman (OBE). Bev’s delightful wife, the lady Ann, already has a bauble of her own, so now they can be twinnies.
Both awards are richly deserved. Few have done more for the game after retirement than unassuming Bev, who followed a distinguished dual-code career by persuading tennis partner Richard Lewis to apply for the top job, took a major role in the growth of Student rugby league and the RL Conference, almost recreated the role of RFL President in his recent year-long term, and has been a magnificent ambassador for league in general. We can’t wait to read the autobiography he has been ‘working on’, not least because we are supposed to be publishing it!
And what more can be said of gentleman Jamie P - a man with as many Grand Final rings as he has fingers, almost? It wouldn’t be fanciful to suggest that his arrival at Leeds was email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org the major catalyst for their current reign. So often misunderstood, the Mayor of Calverley is a profound thinker and future RFL chief executive.
“This achievement means more than anything,” he said. “Even the Man of Steel. It’s recognition from outside the game, which sometimes our sport suffers from a lack of, and all the prestige that comes with it.” The big fellow also admitted to being perched in front of the telly for the 2011 Royal Wedding (whatroyal wedding?-ed) and he hopes to get time off training to go to the Palace. He is yet to sort out a suit. One of armour, perhaps? Suits you, sir.
Expect big changes on the BBC’s SuperLeagueShow. It’s having a bit of a revamp - not least in the choice of presenter. Out goes Harry Gration, outstanding woollenwear and all, and in comes Tanya Arnold, kick-off time and geographical spread TBC. Love your female presenters? We do.
Less edifyingly, only a fortnight in and already the papers are full, well, there’s been the odd news-in-brief, of scandal, misfortune and rumour.
Hat off - we’d say ‘hats’ but only one of us wears one - to the three not-so-wise men of Hull for hogging the first category. What were Martin Gleeson, Ben Cooper and, above all, former Chief Executive James Rule thinking?
Banned substances are one thing, attempting to cover it all up under the eye of the World AntiDoping Agency another - especially when the misuse of mental health as an excuse to deflect journalistic enquiry is added to the charge sheet. Given recent history in rugby league and other sports, that is as shocking as it is distasteful. The most worrying aspect of an episode that already looks like being swept under the carpet, though, is that it lays the club and game open to accusations of an endemic drug problem.
Furthermore, although Gleeson deserves his ban, it would be unfair to heap the blame on him alone. For all its positive qualities, rugby league has a long and unsavoury history of pushing its players back on the field against their best medical interests usually as a result of the commercial imperative - so we should not be so surprised when that can of worms comes wriggling to the surface.
Former Salford hooker Malcolm Alker has plenty to say on that score in his autobiography to be published by Scratching Shed later this year.
Inside your next generation rugby league monthly
Adrian Morley meets Angela Powers
5 Ian Lenagan
Andy Wilson’s monthly profile 7 Five Drives...and a kick 14 Super League preview
Brian Noble goes club-by-club 23 Championship preview
Gareth Walker reports 28 League and religion 38 Summer restructure
6 Richard Mathers
Happy to be at Wakefield 12 Louie’s Lip
Knockout night in Hull 25 Radio Waves
BBC 5Live’s George Riley 30 Penelope Davidson 42 Christopher Irvine
34 Rotterdam 36 Belgrade
19 Mark Flanagan 20 Adrian Morley 33 Clive Griffiths
Nick Quantrill pens Hull KR 43 Book reviews 45 Good Pub Guide
Dave Hadfield visits Swinton 46 Parting Shot
Royal recognition: England rugby league captain Jamie Peacock MBE
Match of the month 26
January 2012 Forty-20 3