Talking Sport - Daz was a gem

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson

IT’S always disappointing when a player is forced to retire early. It’s even sadder when it happens to someone like Darrell Goulding.

Because he is one of the most champion people you could ever wish to meet.

In years of dealing with athletes - inside gyms, outside dressing rooms and on the phone - I can honestly say that Darrell has been one of the best.

He shies away from the spotlight (he isn’t on social media) but he has never refused an interview ... and he doesn’t mind saying what he thinks.

He’s generous with his time, too. I once asked him to present the awards at my son’s team awards night, and he didn’t hesitate to say yes. Didn’t moan, either, when the 10 minutes I told him it would last stretched into the second hour!

A friend who runs a charity told me a similar story. Nothing is too much for him.

And of course, let’s not forget the career he has had for his home-town club.

A classy centre, he first played for Wigan when he was 17, and went on to play in two World Club Challenges, won the Challenge Cup and Super League trophies in 2013, and represented England.

He was modest about his role in Wigan’s Grand Final charge in 2010, but 29 tries in 26 appearances – many from the alien position of wing – tells a different story. On and off the pitch, he has been a credit to his club, his town, his family and himself.

WHAT I liked most about Matty Bowen’s performance in Newcastle wasn’t the two tries he scored which put the polish on a brilliant win.

It was the pass to Joe Burgess which set up his long-range scorcher.

Sure, it was a simple pass. Anyone could make it.

But think about it for a minute. Here was a bloke who had been questioned and criticised. A former NRL superstar who had been dropped for nine games.

Imagine, for a second, the reaction if that pass had been spilled.

Metres from their own line and, at 12-8 down, Leeds could have pounced on the error to swell their lead before half-time.

His ‘shocker’ would no doubt have been dissected by the Sky Sports team as it was replayed – in HD and in slow-motion – while fans inside the ground would surely have vented their annoyance.

And yet, having raced to take the ball on the full, he skipped towards Burgess and, having spotted the scoring chance – with the winger in full-flow – he had the self-confidence to deliver the pass. For that alone, he deserves huge praise.

NOT only has Sepp Blatter presided over a sports body which gave a desert state the World Cup, many of his Fifa colleagues are being investigated for corruption.

You may be thinking you couldn’t despise him any more. And you’d be wrong.

Because after being re-elected to his role last week, he paraded onto a stage with cabaret dancers and said: “We must continue to fight for positive change in football, even when some among us let us down. So please,

enjoy our show!”

Shameless.

TWEET of the week has to go to Latics’ goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt, who posted a selfie of himself with Gareth Bale in a sun-kissed resort, and the caption: “Stop mithering, Gareth.”