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The London Eye Episode 2

28th of February 2014
The London Eye Episode 2

Our man in The South from up North David Lawrenson brings his latest instalment of The London Eye..,

The big news is that the Broncos got their Super League season underway and the staff of London Rugby League moved into new offices!

I was at Widnes for the Super League opener and at The Hive for the first home game at the new venue. The Broncos scored first on each occasion raising hopes, but were then well beaten; however, there was a definite improvement in their performance for the Salford game.

When Brian Noble passed Tony Rea on the way to the press conference he told the Broncos coach that his players thought it had been a tougher game than their victory over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats the previous week – and had the bumps and bruises to prove it. The Broncos squad may be a young one but they are certainly enthusiastic and make their presence felt.

Quite a few Salford fans made the trip to London and Dr Koukash was around although I didn’t see their new mascot Dr Devil. I was sad to see that their previous mascot, Ignito, had been made redundant.

I remember him running round the Willows in tight, bright red Lycra carrying a flare – he always reminded me of the legendary Gateshead Thunder mascot, Captain Thunder, who set a new benchmark in tight, shiny costumes.

I’m not one for watching game shows, reality shows, Celebrity Come Dance With Me etc. But thanks to Broncos half back, Mike Bishay, I was forced to watch Take Me Out, ITV’s dating game show TWICE!

It’s a good job I recorded it and could fast forward most of the ‘action’. Mikey got a date and the following week was filmed scaring the life out of Kate from Liverpool on a jet ski.

The things I have to do in this job. I remember interviewing Chad Randall a few years ago and asking him about his favourite TV programme. He told me it was something called ‘Celebrity Juice’ and was surprised I hadn’t heard of it – I never did get round to watching it.

It got worse when my colleague Danny Kazandjian said he was a big fan of ‘Man v Food’. Glad I missed that one.

The Challenge Cup odyssey ended for South West Chargers when they lost 24-6 at home to Milford Marlins. Unfortunately it was played at the same time as the Broncos Super League match with Salford so I couldn’t get there but it sounded like a cracking game. The Chargers were competitive, trailing only 8-0 at the interval but were ultimately undone by two long range interception tries.

It would have made a great curtain raiser to the Super League game at The Hive. However, the whole Challenge Cup journey has been a great experience for the club.

Incidentally, London Skolars have been given a bye in the third round so there will be two clubs from the capital in the draw for the fourth round when the big boys join in.

Talking of London Skolars, James Anthony, who played full-back for them over three seasons, found himself in even more exalted company recently.

James, a former student at my alma mater St Mary’s University in Twickenham, left to try his luck in Australia at the end of last season and has ended up at the Sydney Roosters rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

The Rugby League Varsity Match takes place next Thursday at the HAC in the heart of the City. At the recent press conference, the captains of Oxford and Cambridge University sat side by side to answer questions. It emerged that not only were they both from Hull but Oxford’s Jack Baker and Cambridge’s James Tennison, were born in the same hospital!

There’s a growing controversy down at the Broncos involving two of their senior players. When Jamie O’Callaghan, 23, left the club during the close season to join London Skolars prop Olsi Krasniqi, 21, became the longest serving player at the club.

But just before the start of the Super League season Jamie re-joined. Olsi reckons he’s still the senior pro because his tenure has been continuous. I think this could end up in the High Court.

Great to hear the youngsters from Croydon Hurricanes had a good time up in Warrington. They may not have won in a mud bath at Crosfields ARLFC but it was certainly an experience they’ll never forget.

Finally, after six months without an office, London RL has found a new home. We are installed in Whittington House just off Tottenham Court Road alongside The Football Foundation. And very smart they are too!

It was a bit like starting at a new school with us new boys (and girl, sorry Ebony) doing our best to blend in – I’ve never seen or heard our lot so quiet - we were virtually whispering. Dan Steel was looking round to find somewhere to put his beloved maps and thankfully we’re not doing the Office Tipping Competition this season as there would be nowhere to put the board.

However, the old tea controversy raised its ugly head again. We were offered a hot beverage to welcome us and there’s an impressive choice on offer – tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc - all free. Not knowing the arrangements, I had brought some of my Lancashire tea bags with me just in case they didn’t have any.

This brought much derision from my colleagues, particularly Halifax-born Dan who takes every opportunity to rubbish the Lancashire brew in favour of something called Yorkshire tea.

Well I had the last laugh because my cuppa arrived rich in colour and full bodied in taste. Dan’s looked as if it had seen a ghost and was so weak it barely managed to get out of the cup.

I’d better keep my Lancashire tea bags under lock and key. 

David Lawrenson

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