Former Wigan RL ace Kelvin Skerrett inspires new book title

Kelvin Skerrett (right) squares up tp St Helens forward Sonny Nickle in 1992
Kelvin Skerrett (right) squares up tp St Helens forward Sonny Nickle in 1992

Former England and Lions hooker Brian Moore described it as “commentary gold” but Mick Morgan says he was simply demonstrating his Castleford bias with his famous “I can’t spake” comment which has attracted a million views on YouTube.

The former Wakefield and England forward had been warned by stewards to tone down his colourful commentary of the 1993-94 Regal Trophy final between all-conquering Wigan and underdogs Castleford.

This followed complaints from Wigan officials and their wives sat within earshot in the main stand at Headingley, but he lost his cool after a forearm smash by Kelvin Skerrett on Castleford second rower Andy Hay.

And Morgan was rendered speechless when referee Dave Campbell brandished a yellow card instead of the anticipated red, prompting the phrase that has been mimicked a thousand times and has now spawned a book, appropriately called “I Can’t Spake”.

Morgan began his match-day commentaries in the new professional era instigated at Castleford by head coach Darryl Van de Velde and was granted extra leeway because the videos were meant for in-house use only.

“I could let myself go as a Cas fan and every emotion came out during the (Wigan game),” he says in his autobiography, written in conjunction with former Press Association journalist Steve Till and published this week.

The book traces the colourful career of a larger-than-life character who was a member of the first touring team to play in Papua New Guinea in 1975 and made a staggering total of 569 first-team appearances during a stellar career for Wakefield, York, Featherstone, Carlisle and Oldham.

Morgan began as a winger at Wakefield, playing outside all-time great Neil Fox, before moving into the back row and later became a hooker and then a ball-playing front rower who scored a record 25 tries in his first season with Carlisle when he was named Man of Steel.

It was during his spell at York where Morgan and team-mate Terry Ramshaw duped Gary Hetherington, the current Leeds chief executive, into kicking a penalty in the closing stages of a match against Rochdale to ensure they lost by less than 18 points and so won their illegal bet.

He was also at the heart of an ugly battle when the game between Oldham and Leigh was abandoned due to fighting and he came close to being arrested on the pitch for his part in the fracas.

Morgan ended his playing career - at the ripe old age of 44 - as player-coach of Castleford’s reserve team and also had a stint as caretaker coach of the Super League team before taking on the job of commercial manager and coming up with such innovative fund-raising schemes as maggot-racing.

His ground-breaking lottery enabled the club to sign the likes of Lee Crooks and Graham Steadman while Morgan put his humorous talent and gift of the gab to good use by carving out a sideline as a successful after-dinner speaker. He has plenty of tales to tell, as “I Can’t Spake” vividly demonstrates.