Sixer’s wash-out Saturday: Wembley blues, red faces in Sunderland

Sixer by Jake

So Pete Sixsmith got away with his act of desertion, truanting from the first home game of the season to watch an oval ball at Wembley, and still has the treat of Reading at home to come. Here he offers thoughts on the more than slightly embarrassing postponement – and Warrington’s comfortable victory over Leeds in t’other game …

“Bit of a cock-up on the old drainage front,” as Reggie Perrin’s brother-in-law, Jimmy, might have put it, had he been in the Kings Arms or on the Metro en route to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

It seems that the new pitch, laid after the Coldplay and Springsteen shows, does not drain. As Joan Dawson said: “They will probably open a cupboard in the bowels of the stadium and say ‘I wonder what these pipes are for’.”

The disappointment felt by 40,000 people in the North East was not as great as that felt by the 30,000 Leeds fans at Wembley on Saturday. To lose one cup final is disappointing, to lose again the next year is doubly so, but to lose three in a row is enough to make a man do a Reggie Perrin and disappear from the face of the earth, leaving one’s clothes nicely folded up at the waterside.

The game at Wembley was by no means a classic, with Warrington showing more flair and determination than a rather limp and flaccid Leeds. They had outstanding players in Hodgson and Hill and moved the ball around quicker than Leeds did. The absence of playmaker Danny McGuire and the fact that he was replaced by an 18 year old was akin to us losing Sess and replacing him with Billy Knott.

The game could have gone the way of my team had it not been for a controversial refereeing decision. A crunching tackle by Kylie Leulai on Brett Hodgson, dislodged the ball from the Warrington man’s grasp. The Leeds prop Brett Delaney picked the loose ball up and went over the line. Had the try been awarded, Leeds would have been ahead and who knows what might have happened.

The referee Richard Silverwood looked at the replay so many times that I thought he was going to yell “Cut: let’s do that scene again” before deciding that Leulai had made contact with the ball and knocked it on. No try and it gave Warrington the chance to push up, up and away to win the cup for the third time in four years.

Mr Silverwood will be well advised to keep away from the Original Oak and Headingley Taps for the next few weeks as he will be as welcome there as Alan Pardew would be at the Linesmen’s Christmas Party – although Pards could always push his way past the bouncers.

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There was a torrential storm with thunder crashing and lightning flashing, but Wembley had fitted all the pipes and the pitch drained well. As at all Rugby League games, the crowd was well behaved with the traditional friendly atmosphere prevailing. To my left were a pair of Wakefield Trinity supporters, to my right a family of Warrington fans, with Leeds followers all round. Not a bad word was uttered and hands were shaken as the Leeds fans left before the end.

Wembley is much improved and looks good with a big crowd in. The middle tier was hardly populated (Club Wembley and all that) and some of the upper tier behind the posts had large gaps, but the atmosphere was good. Rugby League goes for razzamatazz and they do it quite well. There were male voice choirs, an opera singer and Olympic medallists. However, they were yachting types who few had heard of, presumably the clay pigeon man and the dressage horses were busy opening jumble sales and fetes.

I got news of the postponement at Sunderland at 1.45pm and assumed there had been a downpour of Dublinesque proportions. It appeared that it was persistent rain and that the water was sitting on the surface. Maybe, with hindsight, the referee could have waited for an hour and seen whether the forecast rain materialised and whether the water drained away, but we all know better after the event.

It means that Morecambe now become the first team to pit their wits against the new look O’Neill Special. I would imagine that Fletcher and Johnson will play some part on Tuesday night and that should boost the crowd into the mid 20s.

Of course, if it rains, we may end up playing at Ryhope CW whose game did go ahead on Saturday – but then it’s easy for them; they are on the top of a hill …

1 thought on “Sixer’s wash-out Saturday: Wembley blues, red faces in Sunderland”

  1. On my journey from West Fife to the game on Saturday I briefly scanned the RTG forums during my train journey and it soon became apparent that there were serious issues with the pitch and the game was in doubt. A phone call while I was on the Metro from London bound Sixer confirmed my fears and a wasted day was about to be encountered.

    I did go to the stadium, there wasn’t much else to do, and I had a forlorn hope that I may get a refund on my ticket. Daft idea that one but my ticket was valid for the rer-arranged game,aye right I thought out of the question for me.

    The amount of standing water in the surrounding areas did not suggest a deluge and i was a bit surprised as I had visions of large puddles and canoes in the local area. Let’s face it a game in August in the wealthiest league in the world had just been postponed for waterlogging.However I decided to head for the city centre to find a pub as my return train wasn’t till 6pm.

    Sinatra’s seemed to fit the bill, £2 a pint and a live premiership game being shown on the TV and a host of local characters to keep me entertained. The afternoon passed rather slowly but I decided to have a small flutter on a football bet.The way my day was going it was always going to be another donation to the bookies and so it turned out.

    The miserable day continued at Sunderland Station at the beginning of my homeward journey as I was pounced upon by a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I related my tales of woe to them in a kind of rant mode that surprised even them. They soon got the message that I wasn’t a happy bunny and moved along the platform to annoy some other unsuspecting traveller.

    A long day is always somewhat compounded by an enjoyable listen to 606 on the train back to Edinburgh, A new season brought a new presenter and I was largely disappointed to hear the very irritating Johnny Vaughn fronting the programme. Robbie Savage isn’t everyones cup of tea but I quite like his opinionated nonsense howevere Vaughn may result in me moving to Talksport and Collymore. Not much better but a more appealing option than Vaughn.

    Just to finish the day my drive home from Edinburgh to Blairhall takes about 30 minutes and as I approched Oakley I encountered a lady’s body lying across the road. Fortunately for her the local Police station was just across the road and 2 of Fife’s finest had at that moment dashed over to save the day and she was spared my attempts at CPR. She turned out to be very drunk apparently and made a full recovery. Never has home been so welcome.

    Just for information I extraced some rainfall totals for the Sunderland area on Saturday. Jarrow had 12mm, Seaham 10mm and Sacriston 8mm for the 24hr period on Saturday. Either the heavy rain was very localised or we have a serious drainage problem with the pitch.

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