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10 Reasons Why Bradford is Better Than Leeds

1.The People.


Bradfordian’s enjoy a distinct identity; we are a humble folk, happy-go-luck by nature and up for a laugh. We go about our business in an unassuming way and when the time comes for a good moan we are only too happy to oblige. We are proper Yorkshire men and women. Leeds on the other hand has no identity, that’s why there is no such thing as a ‘Leedsian’. The only example of unity among Leeds folk is the cries of ‘we are Leeds’ from the Elland road terraces, which, well you know what I mean. The thing is Leeds, in becoming a ‘modern metropolitan city’ you have become faceless. We are Bradford.

2.The Culture

Some Leeds folk may arrogantly claim to be our counties capital, but Yorkshire’s anthem, ‘On Ilkla Moor Baht’at is set here in the Bradford district, at the top of Ilkley Moor. Bradford’s landscape has inspired the great works of Hockney, Priestley, Delius, and the Bronte’s and continues to inspire new generations of creative innovators, like David and Amber from Coronation Street, and Gareth Gates from pop music. We are a city of cultural firsts. The fantastic St Georges Hall was the first concert hall built in Britain, Europe’s first mela was here in Bradford, and in 2009 we became the world’s first City of Film. Our cultural diversity is something the city prides itself on and something that Leeds must gaze upon admiringly.

3.The History.

Both cities were born out of the textile industry, Leeds was undeniably the king of cotton, but why have cotton when you can have wool? In politics Bradford gave birth to the Labour party. Leeds once chose Vera Duckworth as its Mayor.

4.The Buildings.

Despite their relative sizes there are 3165 listed buildings in Bradford compared to 2735 in Leeds. Of the 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom Bradford is home to one, Leeds none. We stand shoulder to shoulder with Pompeii and The Pyramids while Leeds has to make do with ‘urban living space’. Give me limestone over red brick any day.

5.The Music.

Two Twats From Leeds

Leeds is responsible for the Kaiser Chiefs.

6.The Food.

Eating out in Leeds is about showing off, it’s about fancy décor, inflated prices and celebrity endorsements. We are not so easily fooled. Bradford doesn’t do gimmicks. Britain’s favourite dish is Curry. Britain’s official curry capital is Bradford.

7.The Beer.

Give them their due, Leeds does house some pretty damn good breweries these days but it will take a long time before we forgive them for giving us Skol. Bradford breweries just get it right; it took the best part of an afternoon to tot up all the awards given to Timothy Tailors over the years (80). Salamander are ace too, which is why Golden Salamander is also a ‘Champion Beer of Britain’.

8.The Boozers.

There are 115 pubs within five miles of Leeds according to the Good Pub Guide, of those only 12 are ‘worth a visit’. There are only 32 in the same area around Bradford, eight of which are said to be ‘worth a visit’. That means that only 10.4% of the pubs in Leeds are any good, compared to one in four Bradford based pubs. Best stick to your wine bars Leeds.
(Please refer to points 1 and 7 for further evidence of why Bradford boozers are best)

9.The Football.

I shall refrain from writing a veracious and denunciating (some big words to confuse the Leeds fans) account of Leeds United and their supporters. As a Bradford City fan I cannot however pass up the opportunity to say in print that we are the greatest team that Yorkshire’s ever seen.

10.The Views.

Bradford is the gateway to The Dales, Leeds is the gateway to Wakefield.

An Interview with Billy Pearce ( Extended Version)

This is an uncut version of the interview I did with Billy Pearce for HowDo? magazine.

Panto without Billy Pearce is like turkey without the stuffing. If there is one thing you are sure to see at Christmas time in Bradford it is the broad smile of the local legend plastered across the front of the Alhambra. Bradfordians love him and we could think of no better person to interview for our first issue. Rehearsals had not yet started when I spoke to him but he was nevertheless working hard. Luckily he agreed to put the vacuuming on hold for a while to share his thoughts on Bradford.

You’re back in Bradford for the panto, am I right in thinking that this is your 13th time?

I think so, is that a bad sign do you think? I keep coming back, it’s not because I’m good, it’s because I’m cheap.

You must enjoy it here, have you built up a strong affection for the people of Bradford over the years?

Yes, of course I have, without a doubt…it’s become part of my life really and I’ve got to know a lot of names and faces. I get involved a little bit with what’s going on in Bradford and I’ve always felt at home here really. I am a Yorkshire man, bread and buttered. I know I’ve lost my accent since I went posh, but I’m proud of being from Yorkshire, and I’m proud to be associated with Bradford as well…I think it’s a very spirited place and I stick up for it.

Absolutely, what do you think the significance of the Alhambra theatre is in Bradford?

I’m obviously proud to be associated with the place…I feel at home going there. It’s a new adventure every year and I’m right proud that they keep asking me back. The theatre itself is a beautiful and I think they do a good job of running the place and keeping bums on seats, which is what it’s all about.

What do you like most about doing pantomime in Bradford?

First and foremost it’s being part of a team… All the staff are lovely…Adam Renton (The Theatre Manager) is brilliant…My son’s in it and so is my wife, it’s a family thing and I wouldn’t be able to do that anywhere else…100,000 people went to see that pantomime last year in seven and a half weeks, it’s mind blowing really and when I’m just in ASDA or the White Rose centre there are people smiling at me, which is great. I come out better in life for it.

How do you keep your energy levels up for the best part of two months?

I love it, and if you love something it’s not work. And when it is hard work I loose a stone and a half, which I need to do by the way. It is physical and some parts can be easier to play than others, it just depends how it pans out. This one looks like it may be fairly physical; there are a couple of sword fights and things like that.

What other projects do you have lined up? Are you doing your one man show in Blackpool again?

They have asked me back which is fantastic. Last year it broke box office records. It was a right good do and I was delighted with it… it was great to look out and see a big queue of people outside. I’m not on telly; I haven’t done any of that reality TV, or anything like that. I’m just a working act and fortunately people like what I do.

Would you ever consider going on a reality TV show?

Yes, absolutely. In fact I should have done. They rang me a few weeks go to do come dine with me, which would have been fantastic publicity but I couldn’t do it… If they wanted me to do something like ‘I’m a celebrity’ yes of course I would have to do it…At my age, if I could get a couple of years touring my adult show out of it then I’d have some money to put in the bank for when I can’t do it anymore.

Is that something you would like to do more of? The adult shows?

No, not necessarily. I wanted to do a play and I’d crammed all my dates so I had some free time after the pantomime to do one. I had a meeting with John Godber, who is putting together a new play and I really wanted to do it. But I couldn’t in the end because the rehearsals were during pantomime season. I would have loved to have done something a bit different like that. I have done other bits; I was the narrator for the Rocky Horror show and a Bosnian host for Eurobeat at the Alhambra, which was interesting. It’s hard now, there are so many actors and comedians going for each job, the opportunities don’t always come around.

Tell us a joke

I got stopped by the police the other night, two o’clock in the morning. They said ‘where are you going at this time of night?’ I said ‘I’m going to a lecture on how alcohol, smoking and staying out most nights of the week affect the human body. He said ‘who’s gonna be giving you that lecture at two in the morning?’ I said ‘my wife.’

You mentioned how much you get on with everyone and how it’s very much a team effort. Has anyone ever upset the applecart?

One bloke who I worked with, I won’t mention his name but he played Captain Hook. Right from day one, he hated being in the north, he hated the architecture of the buildings, he hated the accents, and he hated children…He was next door to me for two months, did my head in. What a bloody misery he was.

Any Final words?

Everybody who I’ve done pantomime with in Bradford, they want to come back. I don’t know anybody, apart from Captain Hook who wouldn’t want to come back to Bradford. Everybody who is in it this year can’t wait to come. I’ve worked with people who have gone on to do somewhere else and they’ve been texting me, ‘I wish I was coming back to Bradford’. It’s testament to Bradford and to the Alhambra that people love it so much. It all comes from the top down and credit where credits due Adam Renton does a great job of running that place, he’s not only a boss but he is a friend

Billy Pearce is appearing in Robin Hood at the Alhambra theatre from 17 December to 5 February. Tickets from £9.

Sign Him Up

The flood of activity in the transfer market is gathering pace. Speculation, anticipation and a sense of optimism emanates round the football community. Eager fans wait impatiently like children on Christmas Eve, looking for clues wherever they can and speculating wildly. Who will be the clubs next signing? ‘Is this bloke from Djibouti going to be the answer to our defensive frailties’? ‘Is it true that the lad from Italy we’ve got on trial once played for Milan?’ ‘Apparently that Danish winger has supported us since he was seven; his parents brought him over to visit the Macclesfield silk museum on holiday. That’s exactly what we need, some real passion for the club’.

New signings usually come swathed in a blanket of praise and promise; their achievements are dressed up, like a neatly wrapped present. Nobody intentionally signs a bad player. Unless you’re Gary Neville rocking up at Anfield or El Hadj Diouf just about anywhere the chances are you will be given a fresh start and a clean slate. This is a time for optimism after all. ‘There is every chance that the ‘goal-scoring midfielder’ we’ve signed from Preston didn’t score a single goal last season because he was played out-of-position’. ‘Sure the new centre back was at the heart of the worst defense in the football league last season but I wouldn’t read too much into it’.

Gary Neville - Popular

Of course, once the season kicks off this buoyancy will quickly fade for most of us as we realise the Djiboutian full back is as adept at defending as the French Ardennes and the goal-scoring midfielder has a shot on him like Rory Milroy. If the team is not performing the honeymoon period for a new signing is not a long one. The first to feel the pressure are the strikers, just ask Fernando Torrez. They are usually the most lauded of the new recruits and have the misfortune of being expected to score some goals. Often this does not happen. Often the 30-a-season goal machine you were promised is in fact Thomas Brolin or Bosko Balaban .If this happens then you have bagged yourself an anti-hero, a goal-scoring flop. Do not fret, they will come good, if not on the pitch then certainly down at the pub as part of a brilliant anecdote. I think you will find a lot more fun can be had reminiscing about shit strikers than the good ones.

I take great pleasure recalling the potent threat caused by Danny Cademateri (7 in 91) and the clinical finisher that was Dean Saunders (3 in 44) during their time at Valley Parade. Bradford City has oodles of these menacing forwards littered throughout their recent history. Who could forget Eddie Johnston (7 in 64) or John McGinley (3 in 18)? It must be noted that although these may have arrived with a degree of expectation, thankfully none of them came with a huge transfer fee attached.

Goal Machine

Spare a thought, if you can these days, for Man City Fans. Brazilian Jo arrived in 2008 for a fee of around £6m, potentially rising to £18m with added bonuses; one would suspect this facility will not be being upheld. So far He has scored one league goal in three years. Since 2006 Man City have excelled in second-rate strikers, Corradi, Bianchi, Samaras , Bojinov, Caicaido, Benjani Santa Cruz and Dzeko all failed fantastically in sky blue. Between them they managed a miserly 32 goals in 216 games, one every 6.75 games, frightening. In transfer fees alone that’s over £3m per goal, double that with wages. People may be quick to point out mitigating factors but that is to be as deluded as you were when you believed they would be the answer to all your problems. Man City are the champions of Europe when it comes to shit signings.

Bianchi - Rubbish

However, as bad as the Eastlands contingent was, none of them flopped quite spectacularly enough. From a purely financial point of view Shevchenko puts them all in the shade. His spell at Chelsea cost the club over £50m during which time he managed only nine goals, hardly a shrewd piece of business. This is not really about money though; do Chelsea fans really care about their outgoings? Probably not, the same goes for Man City. He may have failed to match expectations but he just wasn’t bad enough for me. Nine goals, that’s prolific.

Back in 2001 John Gregory paid £5.8m for Croatian goal machine Bosko Balaban, beating off competition from Juventus, Roma and Fiorentina. He played nine times for Aston Villa failing to score once. Swiftly loaned back to Dynamo Zagreb he rediscovered his form bagging 15 in 24 games. This prompted Villa to recall the player. Back in Birmingham with expectations riding high once more the Croat got back to work, or rather didn’t. He was accused of laziness and excluded from training. He never played again and having picked up his 20,000-a-week for two and a half years left the club for free. He scored 47 times in 83 games for his next club and has been on fire ever since. He is the most expensive Premier League striker never to score.

Runner Up, Gary Neville Tache -a-Like Competition 2001

As far as disappointments go Balaban is hard to beat. Never-the-less, given his record elsewhere it is unfair to condemn Gregory’s decision to sign him. Graeme Souness on the other hand has a lot to answer for. In 1996 he received a phone call from George Weah asking him to take a look at his cousin Ali Dia. Dia, he claimed, was a Senegal international and former Paris Saint-Germain player. The Southampton manager, believing this to be true gave him a one month contract and put him straight into the first team squad. At a time when foreign players were still a rarity in England, saint’s fans will have been eager to see their new man in action. They did not have to wait long, 32 minutes in and Matt Le Tissier came off injured. On strode the Southampton number 33, the new George Weah. What followed was probably the worst individual performance in Premier League history.

Dia bumbled around the Dell for the next 21 minutes producing a display that was not matched for inept ability until Dwain Chambers tried his hand at Rugby League. Realising he had made a grave error of judgment Souness hauled him off shortly after half time, never to be seen again. The phone call it turned out was not from George Weah at all, but from the player’s agent. He had of course never played for Paris Saint Germain, or his country and was in fact a bit-part player for Blythe Spartans who had recently failed a trial at Rotherham United. The most shocking thing about this is that he actually had an agent, a good one it seems as well.

Football is not really about winning or losing, it’s about stuff like this. Ask a Southampton fan what position they finished in the league that year or what the score was that day and they probably won’t remember. Ask them about Ali Dia and your certain to provoke a wry smile. Every club has one and maybe yours is lining one up as we speak. Long live the shit signings.

Help Me I’m A Phobiaphobe

Some time in the first century AD Roman writer and physicist Aulus Cornelius Celsius (not to be confused with the 18th century Swedish astronomer Anders Celsius) first used the phrase ‘phobia’ as a way of describing morbid fears. You would be hard pushed to imagine he envisaged his theory would have subsequently transcended into such lunacy. 2000 years later and it is now possible to be diagnosed with geniophobia, the fear of chins, or kathisophobia, the fear of sitting down.

How can you be scared of chins? Apparently phobias are often a result of traumatic life experiences and some are perfectly understandable anxieties. Others however beg belief, what kind of traumatic experience could lead to you developing a fear of string (linonophobia)?I get the feeling there are a lot of greedy psychotherapists out there ripping off gullible morons.

”I’m terribly sorry ma’am it appears the reason your son is doing so badly in English class is because he suffers from bibliophobia and is terrified of books”.” Oh how awful, is there anything we can do to rid him of this terrible affliction?”. “It is curable but I am afraid it will mean several weeks of expensive therapy”.

While you’re at it you may as well diagnose the mother with plutophobia- the fear of wealth, and convince her that the best thing to do is hand over all her valuable assets immediately. I don’t mean to paint a terrible picture of psychotherapists and psychologists, I’m sure they provide a very valuable service on the whole. The fact remains however that someone must have dreamt up, and diagnosed these stupid phobias, many of which would just be impossible to live with.

To illustrate this let me tell you a little story, we need a character, let’s call him Kevin. Kevin wants to take his girlfriend for a meal. First he needs to decide where to go, this is difficult for Kevin as he suffers from ideaphobia and is scared of ideas. He calls his girlfriend and suggests she choose the venue, this was probably a wise move because he doesn’t even know of any restaurants. In fact he doesn’t know very much at all because he also suffers from epistemophobia and is terrified of knowledge, needleless to say he didn’t do very well at school.

Kevin’s girlfriend suggests they go to the Black Horse and said there was a table available at 8:30, it was only a short walk away and did a fantastic mushroom stroganoff. This made Kevin very anxious indeed. The name of the restaurant alone created all sorts of problems for him as he suffered from Hippophobia and Melanophobia and was afraid of horses and as the colour black. Hopefully there would be no further references than the signage, which he could probably avoid. A more pressing matter was his fear of the moon (selenophobia) and of walking (ambulophobia).He did not dare contemplate his aversion to mushrooms at this stage (mycophobia).

As expected the journey to the restaurant was perilous. Caught up in his efforts to surpress his ambulophobia and selenophobia he forgot about his levophobia. Levophobia is the fear of things to the left hand side of the body. In this instance that meant Kevin’s girlfriend, who did not take kindly to his uncontrollable screeching. Luckily she was very patient and before long they arrived at The Black Horse.

Once inside the waiter led the couple to their table and invited them to take a look at the menu. At this point Kevin began sweating profusely. You see Kevin suffered from cathisophobia (the fear of sitting) and was also scared of paper (papyrophobia).He decided to remedy this by standing while his girlfriend read out the menu. (taking special care to avoid suggesting anything with garlic (alliumphobia) or vegetables (lachanophobia)). This drew a few bemused glances from the other diners.

What happened next however would attract far more attention. Kevin’s symptoms where often misinterpreted for hostility. So when he suffered an uncontrollable bout of melanophobia the Nigerian family on the next table got very offended indeed. So much so that Kevin and his girlfriend where asked to leave and never come back.

Incredibly Kevin’s girlfriend remained keen and suggested they go see some belly dancing to get them in the mood. This was the straw that broke the camels back. The thought of belly buttons terrified Kevin so much (omphalophobia) he rang his psychotherapist. The end.

Please do not write any nasty comments about this blog because I suffer from rhabdophobia.

All the phobias mentioned are real, if you do not believe me check out


The hands point to 11:24; they have done so for as long as anyone can remember. The insipid structure is a fitting monument to a town that time forgot. Dreary concrete structures flank the tower on either side, the sea of grey interrupted only by the shop fronts below. Bargain food stores, charity shops and bakeries dominate the square. The stench of rejection is subtle, yet reverberates around this barren amphitheatre like a mocking stain.

Nobody is in a rush yet everyone seems impatient.

A man staggers from boozer to bookmaker, it’s hard to determine his age but the burst vessels in his nose suggest the alcohol has taken its toll. His path is blocked by a shouting youth “Deano, Deano”. “what” snarls Deano from across the road. “Get over ere dick head”. “Shut up will yu, I am doin, jus need to pick up some cigs innit”. “fer’ fuck’sake, urry up then”.

Outside the off-license a teenage pram-pusher pauses to tie another bag to her burdened chariot. She wears the uniform of her compatriots, pink joggers and brown furry boots. An elderly couple share disapproving glances on a nearby bench.

Behind them the market is empty. It is not open on Thursdays. The folded tables add to the sense of desolation in this town, where aspiration packed up and went home a long time ago. Not surprisingly the local Weatherspoon’s is doing a good trade. Several drinkers huddle in the doorway puffing on roll-ups. One of them flicks the remains at a passing pigeon.

Pigeons, like pubescent parents and pensioners are everywhere, subsequently the place is literally full of shit. On the pavements, the roofs and down the side of the buses it is everywhere. Glum faces peer through the stained perspex on the 612 thankful that this is not their stop.

A row of people shuffle onboard clutching their passes and the bus departs, revealing behind it a behemoth of a woman occupying the doorframe of Home Bargains. A real leviathan, 30 stone at least. She has wings the pigeons would envy, puffed up purple ankles that bulge from her shoes like raw black pudding and bright red cheeks that almost meet in the middle.

A pair of Dumpling-like children wobble out behind her like tweedle dee and tweedle dum. Chocolate in hand they are , chocolate “Get a bloody move on you two” she roars

Fitting Inbetween

I can’t be the only person who feels immediately inadequate when they pass through the barriers at Leeds station. Not wanting to sound vain, (and realizing instantaneously that I am being) any positive ideas you had about your appearance go out of the window the instant that ticket pops up from the gate.

I know you shouldn’t care and it’s what you think that matters and all that, but it’s just an unwelcome kick in the balls each morning. Every time you dare believe you’re maybe just a little bit cool for once, or even just think you might fit in, within ten seconds a dozen cooler, smarter, trendier and better looking people pass you by. Admittedly at least four times as many walk past looking like complete arseholes, but they probably are, and therefore are convinced of their own coolness.

I don’t want to stand out, or be at the cutting edge, just to feel self-assured will do fine. This is not a problem in Bradford; I like to think we are generally more humble here. Of course there are a few who push the boat out, and some of the younger ones are looking a bit incomprehensible right now, but generally people are not as bothered. It’s not a competition like in, and I say this begrudgingly, our slightly bigger sister Leeds.

It should be good living so close to a cosmopolitan city, but most of the time it’s just a bit depressing. You always get the sense they are sneering at us, showing off how flash they are while picking apart the poor cousin. I, as you may have gathered commute between the two. The struggle to find a compromise leaves me perpetually stuck in the middle. Not quite cutting it at Uni but still finding myself breaking my own rules.

I vowed never to wear skinny jeans, but I’m now wearing slim fits. I promised myself never to wear those stupid white pumps, but now I have some blue ones. I even got a semi-trendy haircut; I couldn’t go the full hog of course because it would make me a twat. Never-the-less I am conforming and it irritates me.

Goal For The Season

Forget the brilliance of Rooney’s goal for one minute and consider its significance. It may well have been the goal that won the title for Manchester United. It certainly ended their city rivals hopes, who are now nine points adrift having played one game more. The blue half of Manchester will now join Tottenham and Chelsea in a battle to secure a top four finish.

That leaves only Arsenal with a reasonable claim to be in the race. The gunners are four points behind with 12 to play, which doesn’t sound much but despite having a far easier run-in (Man U still have to play Chelsea twice as well as Liverpool and Arsenal) you just cannot see it happening. What Sunday’s victory underlined is something that’s been said time and time again, that Ferguson’s teams know how to perform on the big occasion. They know how to win titles and will win games they don’t deserve to.

I have heard Man United fans maintain this side to be the worst they have seen, yet they are still top of the league. If they are so poor does this reflect badly on the quality of opposition? No, I do not think so. Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal have all improved this season, an assertion we shall see for sure when they take on the best in Europe this week. It is clear then that consistency is the key, and United have been, by far the most consistent team in the Premier League.

So how have they managed to be so consistent when their rivals have failed? I think the reaction to Rooney’s goal tells us an awful lot. The United bench went wild; players, staff, and management jumped for joy, and in doing so displayed a true reflection of the unity within the squad. There where no solemn faces, headphones or looks of indifference, they where genuinely delighted. This is why I believe the title is heading for Old Trafford.

The main problem facing top PL managers is squad management, finding the right balance between a settled line-up and keeping your squad players happy. Get this right and you have a team prepared to work hard for each other and one that will grind out wins. Get this wrong and you risk creating a divided, sulky squad who are out for themselves. Competition for places is of course a healthy thing but when you have two or three high profile players competing for one place it’s hard not to imagine feelings of resentment. I’m not sure when you see Man City, Tottenham or Chelsea score the entire bench is necessarily very happy about it.

Haigh Simpson’s Sporting Scrapbook

My blog page now has a sister site, Haigh Simpson’s sporting scrapbook. It is basically a collection of the interesting or amusing sport related video’s, pictures and links I find each day. There will be comment of course, although the aim is to keep it short and sweet. It will also include regular features such as ‘tweet’s of the week’. I will of course be grateful of any material thrown my way. Below is an exert from the new site along with a link.

What quality’s would you expect a potential MP to possess? A good knowledge of economics, public relations skill’s, and experience of the political system all spring to mind. But no, it appears under David Cameron as long as you can bowl a good delivery and do the cha-cha your in.

I am referring to the revelation that Darren Gough was approached by the Conservatives about becoming their candidate in the Barnsley central by-election. If this is a sign of the future in this age of celebrity then I look forward to the day Prime minister Freddy Flintoff and president A-Rod announce their war on terror-ble defending. An idea championed by defence minister Alan Hansen.

Mind you you only have to look at Michelle Platini and Sepp Blatter to learn that former sportsmen cannot be trusted in positions of power.

Haigh Simpson\'s Sporting Scrapbook

Watch The Rugby, It Will Make You Feel Good

Being working class and from the North I should probably be a Rugby League man, but I’m not. To be truthful I don’t really like Rugby of any ilk, I don’t even understand the rules. Yet there is something about the six-nations that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, something that provokes a greater sense of patriotism and pride than football or cricket ever can.

It’s not the sport in itself. That just consists of some running back and forth, a lot of writhing around on the floor, and the occasional break to sniff each others armpits for reasons I cannot fathom. No, what inspires me is the magnitude of the event itself, the sense of occasion. I don’t know if it’s the fans, the stadia, the rivalry, or the significance that makes it so, but for me it is the most epic of sporting occasions.

Take football’s World Cup final, or the Champions League final for that matter. Half the ground is filled by corporate freeloaders with about as much interest as a post-recession savings account. They dilute the passion and energy of the real supporters, as do the ludicrous ticketing policies. Fans are dispersed around the stadium in tiny pockets, creating an atmosphere more suited to an athletics meet than a game of football.

These are the biggest events of the most popular team sport in the world, a sport built on rivalries, passion and togetherness. Yet it has been allowed to descend towards a glorified exhibition match for the viewing pleasure of the rich and famous, oh and a few lucky competition winners.

International rugby union still retains that genuine feel that makes great sporting events so special. Be it Murrayfield or Twickenham, Cardiff or Rome, the sentiment will be the same, one of overpowering home support. Intimidating cauldrons of boiling passion breathe life into the occasion and set the perfect scene for an epic battle.

And rugby union truly is an epic battle. It’s a much overused phrase in sport, a footballer is said to ‘lead his team into battle’ or a tennis star might have ‘a real battle on their hands’. Is it really a battle in the literal sense though? Mentally, technically, and even physically maybe, but I have always felt rugby comes remarkably close to resembling the real thing.

It evokes images of William Wallace, of Richard the Lionheart. The violent clashes, surging charges and the battles for ground mimic the historical events that shaped our part of the world. It’s this deep rooted history between the competing nations that gives these fixtures that edge. In other sports rivalries are less entrenched, they are more often than not born out of the sport itself. Rugby promotes nationalism in a positive way and the six nations is an occasion to reclaim the flag from the bigoted fascists.

I will spend the coming weeks enjoying the spectacle knowing full well that I will be no nearer to understanding the rules than I am now. Nor will I develop any interest whatsoever in the domestic game. But it will make me proud and that is a great feeling. I urge you to join me.

Here are a few videos to wet your appetite….