Talking Sport Now & Then: Confidence in Coppinger but doubts about Doncaster RLFC's next opponents

Hopefully the series of interviews with James Coppinger published in this paper and online will have gone some way to convince those supporters who doubted the wisdom of Doncaster Rovers appointing him their first head of football operations.

By Steve Hossack
Friday, 8th July 2022, 2:05 pm

Regular readers of this column will recall that I was supportive of the club’s decision to appoint Copps to the newly-created post ahead of more experienced applicants and that is even more the case today.

I thought Paul Goodwin, who knows his football, asked a series of very good questions and Copps provided some equally good answers.

They weren’t the sort of stock answers often served up by football managers and politicians and it was obvious to me that he both understands the demands of the role and the financial climate in which he must operate.

James Coppinger. Photo: George Wood/Getty Images

He also appears to have some good ideas, along with others at the club, on the way forward while being careful not to set targets which might prove unachievable.

It is, of course, easier to talk the talk than walk the walk and, as Copps himself admits, he will get things wrong at times.

But it will not be for the lack of trying and given the chance to prove himself I’m sure, with the help of the supporters, that he will prove to have been a good choice.

*The recent series between England and New Zealand proved a massive advert for Test cricket.

Not only did both sides produce some superb cricket during the series but it was also played in a sporting manner which I always like to see.

Test cricket has come under fire in recent years for being too long drawn out and too boring.

But in an era of big-hitting limited-over games of varying duration, both England and New Zealand showed that there is still a lot of life left in the five-day format if played in the right spirit.

Of course, spectators want to see the side they support win games but they also want to be entertained in the process.

They also want to see their heroes doing things out of the ordinary as happened on several occasions during the series.

Hopefully, any youngster watching the three games will be inspired to try and emulate their heroes just as I was inspired by the feats of fast bowler Freddie Truman and Brian Close, who famously often went down the wicket to attack the most fearsome pace attack in the game at the time.

I remember doing the same against a teacher, who was the opening bowler for the local Yorkshire League side, in a games lesson during my last year at school and he was no less pleased than Wes Hall and Charlie Griffiths had been by the result.

*Doncaster RLFC will make the long trip down to the south west this weekend to take on Cornwall in their return Betfred League One clash and I expect them to make the 12-hour round trip pay off with their first double of the season.

I had my doubts about the wisdom of the Rugby Football League’s decision to agree to the setting up a club in the county – a long-time union stronghold – when the news first broke in the second half of last year.

I can understand the RFL’s desire to expand the game outside of its traditional northern heartlands.

However, previous efforts to do so have hardly been a roaring success and I can’t see the Cornwall experiment being any different, though, of course, I wish the club well.

Although I could understand the logic of the club wanting to rely on local talent and being prepared to suffer the consequences in the short-term as the logistics of bringing players down from the North to train made it totally impractical – I was concerned that would make it even harder to establish a support base.

As the reality of the fact that too many of the players they had recruited via trials weren’t up to the mark hit home, the club seem to have had second thoughts about that, at least in the short term, and have brought players in from more established clubs.

Equally of concern to me at the time was the financial sense in basing a side so far away from the majority of clubs in League One given the extra costs that would be involved. That is even more the case in the current financial climate.

I never went along with the idea that northern holiday makers visiting the area would take in a game during their stay in any great numbers.

Home clubs are already seeing away support, even from the bigger sides, fall away this season as people are forced to tighten their belts. A trend likely to continue.

*The 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship, which kicked off earlier this week, is set to promote the women’s game in this country like never before with massive exposure on TV and radio and in the national press.

The women’s game has certainly come a long way since I first started reporting on Doncaster Belles over 40 years ago at a time when they only got the sort of crowds you see at an average Doncaster Boys’ League game these days despite being the top team in the country.

It’s not only football where the fairer sex is making its mark in a way which I never could have envisaged growing up.

Never in a million years would I have predicted that girls and young women would box or play both codes of rugby in such numbers in my lifetime.

What is perhaps even more surprising is the standard of the women’s game in both codes is now so high and set to get even higher in the years to come.

*A lot of the players would like to see the Wimbledon dress code, which forces them to play in all white, scrapped.

But I remain in favour - with a slight adjustment.

Compared with what a lot of the players wear, both on the regular tour and other Grand Slams, I feel they look much smarter at Wimbledon.

The dress code, as with the grass courts, also helps set the tournament aside from the other three Grand Slams.

What I would like to see is a limited pattern on the shirts, as used to be the case, and which a lot of local tennis players in the day including myself, used to rush out and buy.

I don’t think that is the case with the current tops which all look very similar.