It's been nine months since I wrote this "last post" which phenomenally was read by almost 7,000 people, a better view rate than at least four Super League clubs manage for a game! Bizarre!
It was an honest opinion on what I viewed a terrible Rugby League season. Generally poor watches with a lot of the strangulation coming from TV games which consistently took past 10pm to complete and video ref reviewing that was nauseating and incredibly frustrating. I still stick by all that.
In fairness I think things seem better this year. Games do seem to be much faster and having Castleford and Salford at the top of the table is refreshing, even if its to the detriment of my team Wigan.
Of course I would like to see Wigan still being able to compete for the Top 4 this year but I'm now realistic in that expectation. At the moment it's looking like at best all we can do is hope to hang around 4th/5th in the table. I know plenty outside of our town have the attitude that "oh Wigan moaning about injuries" is too much but their are injuries and then theirs a situation where you starting 13 includes squad numbers 32, 33, 35, 36 & 39 on top of losing two more players during the game (both half backs).
It was frankly a high end achievement that from 28-0 down on Friday that Wigan went down fighting despite ending up having to play what I would argue to be at least 8th and 10th choice half backs with third choice full back and third choice hooker also.
Those 8th and 10th Choice half backs being Josh Woods and Joel Tomkins (or Ryan Sutton I'm not actually sure who went to half back). Yes Joel Tomkins. Thats what Wigan ended up having to do against a Salford side that at the very least had first choice half backs to call upon. With respect that's desperate.
Here's a pecking order I'd think of....
A.N Other (Desperation)
To rally up 16 points and force Salford to kick a drop goal to nudge over the line was an huge achievement to be honest given those circumstances and I'm quite certain every other Super League sides wouldn't even be competing with squad numbers 32, 33, 35, 36 & 39 on the field because most Super League squads don't even go that deep!
Wigan's issue though isn't so much the injuries, its more injuries occurring in games which has been a constant theme for about two months. Any side losing interchange options ends up doing over time and more over time and it exasperates the problem. I still think its amazing we have got so far as last week being within a chance of going top, two losses just show how quickly things can change though.
Take nothing away from Salford. I'm pleased for the die hards who have stuck with that team through many years of mainly struggle that they are getting some great rugby to watch and wish them well in the battle to remain Salford and not Manchester.
If this injury situation means our season falls apart, in terms of the league, then I'm quite relaxed about it. It feels all a bit 2006 to me at the moment but the potential prospect of having to rally late in the season to make top 4 actually excites. I'm realistic that with so many out we shouldn't really expect that we can beat Warrington, St Helens and Hull in the next few weeks but Wigan's investment in academy will give them a chance and that'll do for me. I re-iterate that most sides using those squad numbers would have gone down to 50+ defeat to Salford from 28-0 down, I'm quite adamant about that.
Maybe I've just mellowed though. I think it's fair to say I found a lot of last years watch frustrating and I know of plenty others who felt the same and those frustrations certainly boiled up. You might recall I disappeared off the radio late last year, wrote that piece on the website and have left in the state of frozen in September 2016 even since.
Many drew their conclusions as to why but the reality was that in late August last year my dad fell ill with throat cancer and pretty quickly forced into having to have his voice box totally removed. That was quite a major operation that left him in hospital, quite a few miles from my home, for four weeks, ironically at the same time Wigan were starting to produce some great rugby towards the Grand Final.
I actually got a call to say he'd come home from that as I entered Old Trafford on Grand Final day, so that evening doubly special for me. Reality soon kicks in though. You've now got a parent who has to teach himself to eat and drink again and who can no longer talk to you anymore, only being able to communicate by writing using a felt tip pen.
That is wounding. Anyone who has witnessed a loved one battle cancer will know how tough that is. Horrible. It was at this point when your getting used to all that when a tweet I'd made on September 1st was brought up to finger point by a player, which I still actually think was fair play and I've actually no problem with that, but at the time given the circumstance it wasn't very welcome. Particularly the many bandwagon replies I got that night, one of which berated me for "using the cancer card". What a fucking prick of a comment that was. Beyond belief and clueless. I just had to get away from social media for a while after that.
That major operation wasn't the end of it. Four months of him enduring daily trips to the cancer centre on the Wirral was I'm sure quite an tiring endurance when your ill and then into the new year you get the worst part, the wait to see if it was all worth it. Thankfully in March news came of a positive variety. Such a relief. Life for him is still tough being unable to speak but at least now he actually has a future, I just hope the person who questioned me "going off on one" as just "attention seeking" might understand my head space now in hindsight. Anyone who actually knows me will know that I couldn't actually attention seek any less, I offer nothing but an honest opinion. That was a horrible few months of worry that I wouldn't wish on anybody.
To be honest though, my headspace is now good. Those few months have been tough but also helped clear my head. It's left me worrying little about Rugby League anymore and perhaps that has mellowed my mood towards it. I think in hindsight that 15 years of having done this website had proved a burden, on top of, in recent years, of writing weekly for the local paper and talking about Wigan three hours on the radio every week. All on a voluntary basis I might add.
The reason I mention all this though is more to update you on why the website has been dead. It's still here but I've known for a long time that it is in desperate need of modernisation and refresh, particularly given the advance in recent times of mobiles and tablets. This website is in no way friendly to those devices.
I have recently made a website of it's own for the TV page - rugbyleagueontv.com - and my intention now is to collaborate all the historic data on here into a new website that is modern and easier to navigate around. Make no bones about it, this will be a huge and lengthy task. 122 years of Wigan matches is archived in great detail on here and I can't tell you have many hours I put into it. I don't even have a clue where to start with a new site to be honest but eventually that is my intention. It probably needs to be more database that just a manual collection I suppose. Whether I begin soon or in a few months, time will tell, but I hope to start eventually but energy and mood is a key factor and it's getting there.
In terms of the radio, I did offer to return to Wish FM to do the annual long string of away games from later in the month but I can tell you that won't be happening. I did enjoy one last cameo doing the Good Friday derby but with that chapter now closed I wish (no pun intended) everyone involved there all the best for the future, in particular the other half of the pantomime horse Joe Mills who might be madder than a drunk wasp on speed but has a genuine heart of gold for all those that tune in every week. I shall miss being able to contradict him and shaking my head is disbelief at the latest mad accent he's performing.
So a new website to archive historical stuff, not necessarily to write about current stuff, will hopefully be a reality soon but in the meantime....catch you on twitter!