"Write a preview" he said.
"Your thoughts on the game" he said.
"Tactics, team selection, strengths and weaknesses" he said.
I thought he'd asked the wrong person.
"There are plenty of others who will cram statistics down your throat until
the cows come home, ask them" I said.
"I have" he said, "now I want your opinion."
So here it is...
Stats mean nothing, OPTA Schm-OPTA, meaningless garbage for geeks to study
late into the night and then ferret away on a secret spreadsheet that they
keep hidden from the wife's view under a password derived from their
favourite Star Trek Voyager episode.
It matters not that you compare one player against his opposite number,
matters naught that you weigh each pack and one is heavier than the other,
matters nada that one team had what is percieved to be an "easier" route to
the final, team selection and the mix-match of who starts and who stays on
the bench is meaningless in a game of multiple exchanges, none of these
things, the things that the geeks pour and salivate over long into the
night, none of it matters.
Neither does the number of tickets sold, or what songs you sing, or what
replica shirt you wear, or what colour socks or underpants you choose, it
doesn't matter that you didn't stop at Leicester Forest this year and you
always stop at Leicester Forest, it doesn't even matter that you've brought
the bloody wife with you this year and the last time you brought her to a
game we got beat by Martin bloody Offiah and his ten tries, none of this
matters, not one jot of it.
The only thing that matters, the only thing that will decide the game on
Saturday, the only difference between the two teams, will be which big daft
lads are still willing to run full pelt into a concrete wall after 80
minutes of doing so, just because you tell them to.
The only thing that matters is which coach has better convinced his big daft
lads that it won't hurt if they run the ball into one more tackle, and for
my evidence I point to the game-breaker from the last time that Leeds won
the Challenge Cup, the Barrie McDermott try - do you think Barrie was
worried about whether it would hurt or not as he hit the defence to fall
over the line with ball in hand? Hell no, he nearly hit the goalpost, that's
how bothered he was about how much would it hurt.
Big daft lads running into concrete walls time and again, just because the
coach tells them to - that's what wins games of rugby league, it's a simple
game made complicated only by those who wish to look clever by analysing, it
needs no analysing - just run into a concrete wall until I tell you to stop.
Photograph by kind permission and © Andrew Varley