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September 2019 n Volume 9 Issue 9

n Welcome to September’s issue. It’s been a funny old month since last we met. Lots of decent fare on the field – such as an engaging Challenge Cup final, well done to Warrington – but rather too many less salubrious events off it.

Chief among the unedifying bits has been the growing problem of supporter misbehaviour, a subject to which a good chunk of this very edition is devoted although, truth be told, it’s a problem that has been brushed under the carpet for years.

We love a reassuring myth in this sport, they make us feel better about ourselves. The notion of the ‘rugby league family’ is high among them, but that shouldn’t be allowed to cloud an uncomfortable reality.

In the pages ahead, you’ll find much to mull over on the subject – it really is high time we got to grips with what risks becoming a plague.

n That said, the family spirit does loom large. Nowhere was it more obvious than when the curtain fell at Bradford’s iconic Odsal Stadium.

We have a feature on that too, a day when more than a few lumps were stuck in throats. Among them that belonging to our photographer.

During a downsizing move of his own, Forty20’s snapper-in-chief found a season ticket for 1964 for one Simon Conley Wilkinson, then just two-years old. It brought back memories of days on the terraces, perched on grandad’s shoulders: “...although at that age I was more interested in the police horses.”

Some of what happened on the field must have sunk in, mind. “I’m told I couldn’t count to 13 in numbers at the time, but had no problem naming the full Northern side and in the right order too.”

The old bowl will be missed.

n Rugby league’s wounds are largely self-inflicted. In what other sport with a badly needed World Cup on the horizon, would a nation that has finally given us reason to hope the mould is broken threaten

The last post: Bradford supporters gather on the pitch after what was billed as the final game at Odsal

The tipping point n n to withdraw from this autumn’s internationals and ditch a heritage stance that has put the global game slap bang back on the map?

So it is with Tonga, whose players like Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo are said to be frustrated by uncertainty over the future of coach Kristan Woolf ahead of the World Cup 9s and Tests against Australia and Great Britain.

Woolf is linked with Saints and the Tongan board has approached recently-sacked Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan to take over, having ironically lost his job to current St Helens incumbent Justin Holbrook.

A significant sum of money earmarked for junior development on the island – which the players are passionate about supporting and have generated through their efforts – is also said not to have arrived at its proper destination.

n Money is almost too tight to not mention in the UK too. Wigan have reported an operating loss of some £1.4 million last year, a twogame trip to Australia “significantly below budget” blamed for a large part of it, according to accounts recently filed at Companies House.

The loss is nearly £1m more than 2017 and the same amount lost over the previous three years combined, despite Shaun Wane’s men winning a Grand Final. Their turnover dropped by a tenth, while expenditure increased.

Chairman Ian Lenagan, who owns 89 per cent of the club, has once again plugged the gap.

Wigan have two marquee stars signed for next season - George Burgess and Jackson Hastings - but still intend to lower overall wages.

n There are similar issues at the RFL after the lowest Challenge Cup Final crowd since Murrayfield 2002 and four years earlier at Wembley.

In July, the governing body announced a loss of £327,000 in 2018, which they said was largely due to the presence of Catalans Dragons. Their budget for 2019 was expected to generate a profit of £207,000, now in jeopardy.


All in the family?


Forty20’s in-depth assessment

Peerless Morgan 5 Trevor Baxter’s monthly profile Five Drives & A Kick 7 London 9s, Roby’s name change and Super League goes fishing The Reality Is... 13 Brian Noble MBE looks forward to the Super League play-offs... Mrs Carter’s Dairy 19 Referees placed under pressure Irvine’s Indigestion 23 Chris Irvine regrets a fading star Stand Up for League 24 Ian Boldsworth on free speech teamsheet

Louie the Lip


It’s Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Championship Chat 26 Peter Smith saw the Eagles soar Mantality matters 28 Stevie Ward is back on the field League Monthly 29 Paul Bennett’s brand new column Odsal memories 30 Steve Deane recalls Bullmania Café des Treizistes 40 Mick Rylance meets Olivier Elima

Priim and Proper 35 Women’s Super League fires up Right in the head? 38 Phil Caplan discusses concussion Footy20 40 George Clarke on Nathan Brown Destination Nigeria 42 Our MEA Championship preview Latham’s Loft 44 Wigan in the West Lancs Union Footprints of past 46 Anthony Williams hits Cumbria Any Other Business 50 Martin Kelner is the name

Match of the Month 20 Warrington’s year – at Wembley

September 20193Forty2043

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