headless in Twickenham
So, what did the great blood crisis mean for London Rugby League? Well, either quite a bit or not much; I went along to the last home game of the season, against Castleford, and to be frank, either it completely wrecked their morale, or else they were so awful that no external influence could have made a blind bit of difference. Thanks to South West “Trains”, we were late, but when we got into the ground London were still only 12-0 down.
The atmosphere, however, was like a wake; even the Castleford fans seemed a little depressed. And then the sky fell in, and Cas started scoring every time they got the ball. They narrowly missed out on a half century, but for a while at the beginning of the second half, I was wondering if Keighley’s cherished all-time record for the biggest away win (104-4 against Highfield in 1995) might be under threat. All discipline, organisation, and basic skill had flopped, and a ferocious number of penalties were being given away.
Of course, that sort of match always gets weird; part way through the second half, someone dressed as a Mountie went round the stand singing “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” with friends togged out as various beasts. Cas took their foot off the pedal after the 40th unanswered point went in, and they missed three conversions, so London got away with 48-0. And someone tried to blame it all on the ref.
Something like that had been coming; a few weeks before this, I’d seen them lose to Huddersfield in a match which stood out for being one of the worst I’ve ever seen – completely uninspired and dull as ditchwater, with Huddersfield phoning it in and collecting the points for basic competence. At the time, it almost counted as a top-of-the-table four pointer, too, due to London’s good start to the season.
This leaves us, anyway, with a play-off series in which Leeds and St. Helens are the top two, but the rest includes Huddersfield and Castleford but not Bradford, and Hull K.R. but not Hull F.C, and a Catalans side who haven’t been as good as last time out, but who have just beaten Saints hollow.