Pete Sixsmith, an ever-present last season, explains why he will be absent tomorrow …
There will be no Sixer’s Seven tomorrow. It may be Dawson’s Dozen or Salut’s Six, but it won’t be me summing up the game.
It’s not because I have moved on to another site for a consideration of a pie, a pint and a packet of mints. I am still on the staff here at Salut House as long as the readers and the proprietor want me.
But I won’t be at the Stadium on Saturday to see Norman Stanley Fletcher make his first appearance, and hopefully score his first goal, for the Lads.
It’s the first home game I have missed since we beat Colchester United in the League Cup a couple of years ago. I was sampling the delights of Chasetown v Marine that night, while the last league game I missed at the Stadium of Light was a home draw with Wigan in Bruce’s first season. I was at St Ives that day, watching Shildon in the FA Vase, who had won in the previous round at Roker Park (Stotfold not Sunderland) on the day that Sunderland were losing to that season’s F.A. Cup finalists, Portsmouth.
So why will my seat be unoccupied for the visit of the Royals/Biscuitmen? There is no sinister reason, no falling out of love with the club and MON and no dispute with the game in general. It’s just that I feel like trying to turn the clock backwards and returning to my first love….. Rugby League.
Like M.Salut, I am not a County Durham man. I was born and brought up in the grimy back streets of Leeds in the 1950’s and was a regular at Headingley in the days of Lewis Jones, Jeff Stephenson and Jack Wilkinson, hardly missing a home game.
When my father moved us up to the North East, I mourned the fact that there was no RL to watch and settled on football as an acceptable substitute. But Rugby League is in my soul and I follow the game closely through the press and the BBC’s Super League Show.
Tomorrow, Leeds play Warrington in what could well be a classic Challenge Cup Final. It’s a game that pits Kevin Sinfield against Lee Briers, Ryan Hall (harder than Kevin Ball x 100) with Adrian Morley and Brent Webb against Brett Hodgson – stars of the code to a man.
Those names are hardly known outside of the M62 corridor, where the game is played with such intensity. Any trip along that road is a lesson in the game. It starts in Hull and ends in Liverpool, passing true RL communities like Castleford, Wakefield, Leigh and Warrington, towns where the 11 a side game has a tenuous hold to say the least.
The Challenge Cup is played at Wembley every year. It’s a big day out for the RL cognoscenti and shirts from most pro clubs will mingle with the blue and amber of Leeds and the primrose and yellow of the Wires. There will be community singing and warm up games between school teams and a B list celeb to sing the National Anthem.
Some minor royal will present the trophy and the ghost of Eddie Waring will be in the ether, calling Don Fox a “poor lad” for missing the easiest of conversions in front of the posts in 1968.
I shall have an ear on the radio and an eye on the text messages and I am hoping for a double – Leeds to beat Warrington, Sunderland to beat Reading. The first one is a tricky one to call, the second will hopefully, be slightly less difficult.
No sevens from Swansea either – a 4.45 start did not appeal. Part time supporter, that’s me!!!