TALKING SPORT - A crazy year in more ways than one

Phil Wilkinson
Phil Wilkinson

WELL, what a year. What a crazy whirlwind year.

It was never going to top 2013 – the FA Cup, the Warriors’ double – but it was often enjoyable, occasionally miserable. For the most part, unpredictable.

And its the unpredictability of sport which remains its real appeal. Even more so than great athleticism and its parochialism (“our team is better than your team”).

A year ago, I would never have predicted Latics would go on to beat Manchester City in the FA Cup. The last team to win at City were Barcelona.

A year ago, I would never have predicted Latics would reach Wembley, push Arsenal all the way in a semi-final which would end in penalties, sack Uwe Rosler and spend Christmas in the relegation zone.

Never, ever.

I would not have predicted Wigan would be knocked out the Challenge Cup by Castleford. I would not have imagined Joe Burgess and Dan Sarginson would go on to become such sensations, and I and would never have predicted the league player who would generate the most headlines around the world would be Ben Flower.

Such events have taught me not to make predictions for 2015, other than this one: it’s going to be an exciting year ahead! Happy new year.

SUPER League chief Blake Solly wants to emulate other leading sports and take a game on the road. Arsenal’s Emirates ground, perhaps, for a Wigan-St Helens derby?

It would be easy, and tempting, to argue against the plan.

But league’s biggest asset is the spectacle of the game itself, and with other sports – even American competitions – increasing their presence in the UK, the code risks being marginalised further if it doesn’t think outside the box. Even if it means the occasional 400-mile round trip for a home game.

AUSTIN Healey, a former Orrell player, wrote an interesting piece about rugby union in the Telegraph last week.

He pointed out that the 2015 World Cup offers the sport a massive chance to entice new fans. “They are not going to come back if they have seen eight guys collapse a scrum, win a penalty, and kick a penalty. That will bore everyone to tears,” he said.

He says forwards are spoiling the game, so he proposed a solution. Props aren’t to bind in the scrum.

Increase the speed.

Make the back-rowers fitter, rather than bigger.

And a new mindset, seeing the “scrum as a means of restarting the game, because they appreciate they have got talented backs who the public want to see with the ball in their hands.”


Go any further, and they’ll be playing rugby league.