Pete Barrow: You’re a very naughty boy say Clarets
Jan 29 2010 by Mel Booth, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
I know that for the powers that be at Super League they will have seen this as a perfect opportunity to raise the profile of the game, but I would be intrigued to discover just how much air time this particular stunt gained outside the heartlands of the sport – did anyone see Tuesday’s Evening Standard? I can’t imagine it was the lead story on the back page.
And it would appear that for all the attempts to export the game over many years we still are not getting too much farther in taking the 13-a-side code to the nation at large.
Admittedly the Fulham experiment has, through a number of name and ownership changes, come to fruition as a London team in the top flight now appear to be a permanent fixture – but it has taken quite some time.
Equally after the aborted Paris St Germain trial, finally through Catalans Dragons the French connection appears to be pretty firm again after taking a while to work, but the battle to win Wales lurches on without signs of imminent success.
Now I know that Westminster Palace is a more impressive backdrop than Leeds Town Hall or Manchester’s Piccadilly station, but was the expense of shipping officials, players and the media to London really money well spent – I have a sneaky feeling that some of the press lads would have happily forgone the day out for a launch venue somewhere just off the M62.
And perhaps most telling was that at the launch, if I got the gist of the reports correct, there was a veiled threat to the Super League futures of the likes of Wakefield, Castleford and Salford if they cannot come up with either new grounds or improved facilities at their current homes.
It is fair comment, but when St Helens still hold their after match press conference in a tiny kitchen under the stand – you have to get in early or you can get stuck sitting against the cold tap of the sink – I do wonder whether there should be a few more candidates for the chop when the fight for franchises comes around again in a year.
And who will replace these poor souls should they be ousted – well my bet would be Widnes, Barrow and possibly Halifax, which hardly constitutes expansion.
So I hope for the game’s sake that the trail to London turns out to be a capital gain, but maybe it is the smaller battles closer to home that need to be won first if Super League is to be truly the super sexy product some of the top brass clearly feel it ought to be.