This was the most incredible Big City Derby I can remember. It had everything with the exception, if we are being honest, of top quality football due to the sky-high number of nerve induced errors.
From one of the worst misses you will ever see, to the ultimate match winning tackle excitement was the order of the day and the full on brawl mid way through the second half just added to the delirious atmosphere. The was the usual sanctimony on the BBC phone in afterwards; “disrepute, blah, blah”, but come on, anyone who doesn’t secretly enjoy a lusty punch up isn’t telling the full truth.
Considering the Black and Whites were playing with no recognised halfback paring (Danny Houghton was dummy from hooker and won Man of the Match), plus scramble full back (Whiting when we had the ball, Tansey in defence), and we were missing Fitzgibbon, O’Meley and Long this was a tactical triumph for Richard Agar and Jake Webster. They made the right calls where necessary and we looked solid in defence and offered a real attacking threat whenever we crossed into Dobbin territory.
Nevertheless Rovers played well and Dobson can consider himself unlucky to be on a losing team. Once again Shaun Briscoe was KR’s iron man, and not even being virtually knocked out in the first could dampen his enthusiasm for a tackle.
Calderwood’s miss was quite something to behold. Towards the end of the first half a mix up under a Horne bomb saw the ball spilled. All the wingman had to do was pick the ball up unchallenged and put it over the line but incredibly he knocked on and Rovers went up field and scored to make it 8-6, still in our favour but the try would have killed the Robin’s chances.
The former Leeds man was central to the second half mass brawl as Cockayne, clearly a man one sandwich short and unable to control his infamous temper, and he went at it hammer and tongs as Jason Netherton dived in with enthusiasm, sparking a collective rush of blood with all and sundry involved. But, as ever, it was all over in a twinkle of an eye and everyone got on with it and exchanged handshakes at the end of the game. Contrasts with pampered, decadent and petulant brats in football are just too easy…
With the game in it’s death throes, Rovers pressed for the line to draw matters level and forged an opening for Peter Fox in the corner. The wingman just had to get low and ground the ball when Tom Briscoe appeared from seemingly nowhere to bundle the Rovers man into touch and win the game for the Airlie Birds.
This was a magical moment in the history of this magnificent fixture, the biggest Derby in world football and showcasing this wonderful city across the globe.