At the risk of being controversial to the point of rebellious in the minds of some folk, I have to make this observation.

Currently there is an excess of sport on TV, including wrestling (or play acting for the most part), which I have never been a fan of; snooker, which I used to be a fan of in the days of Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Ray Reardon, Stephen Hendry, et al; football and rugby, both of which I watch quite a lot of but very selectively.

The significantly increased amount of football and rugby is due to Covid-19, one way and another and it has re-confirmed for me, my long-held view regarding the watchfulness and excitement between the 2 sports.  I actually rate them as 3 sports because whilst I watch both rugby league and rugby union, I find the latter to be much more exciting and enjoyable to view.

Where I am expecting to cause the most controversy is when I confess that compared to rugby, football is bland.  For the last 50 years my wife Lilian has been telling me (on the odd occasion when she brings me a cup of coffee), “I don’t know what you see in football, it’s like watching paint dry”.  Unfortunately I am beginning to think she is right; especially relative to the inaptly named Premier League.

I rarely watch any live TV, opting to record everything and fast forward the adverts and the boring bits of a programme, when I am viewing it.  At the weekend I had quite a choice because all of the postponed 6-Nations rugby games were being played, including the womens games, which are equally as exciting and hard driven as the mens games – sometimes more so.  Add to that all the extra televised games of football that have evolved due to the grounds being closed to supporters.  I actually was recording games on TV channels I didn’t know existed.

On BBC Red Button (new one to me) I had recorded an FA Cup qualifying match between Hartlepool United and Ilkeston Town and wanted Hartlepool to win because they are located only 30 miles from South Shields.  They won 6 : 0, to progress to the first round of the FA Cup.  Absolutely fantastic game.  The other 2 football matches I viewed, were Premier league games.  Manchester United v Chelsea, 90 minutes of sheer boredom resulting in a goalless draw and Newcastle United v Wolves, this time only 85 minutes of sheer boredom, with 5 minutes of excitement resulting in a 1 : 1 draw.

I do appreciate that a lot of the enjoyment and excitement connected with watching any competitive event is associated with who you want to win but many people watch them to enjoy the skills and adaptability of the players.  In mens Premier League football that also includes play-acting.

Then I watched 4 or 5 rugby matches, mens and womens.  Absolutely and positively totally different in all sorts of ways.  Very, very exciting; a real pleasure to watch and to also appreciate the same qualities in the players of both teams.  Rugby players, for the most part are well disciplined, very respectful of the referee and match officials and their opponents.  Rugby may have been founded on the playing fields of Eton, or whatever but it is a game for everyone now.  The people who are involved with it, both amateur and professional, must be very proud of its good name and status and very sad that the public at large have not embraced it as a popular sport to support.

Having said all that; does anyone know why Rugby is not at least as popular a sport to watch as Premier League football?  I would be interested hear other people’s views.

Take care everyone and please keep making the effort to stay healthy.

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John Lightfoot MBE, Solar Solve Chairman