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Rugby League: The Millward story goes on [Jul. 1st, 2009|02:55 pm]
Sports Shorts

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[davehadfield]
Just as it was starting to go a bit quiet, Ian Millward is on his way back to Leigh.

It was there that it all started for Basil ten years ago. I remember running into him, networking furiously, at a Test at the Reebok the weekend he arrived and thinking: "This bloke will go far. Or if he doesn't, it won't be for want of trying."

And so it proved. His six years at St Helens were memorable for what his team achieved, but also for the way that controversy was never far away. He was a journalist's dream and sometimes a journalist's nightmare - and he could start an argument with himself in a phone-box.

The only thing that tempers his record at Saints is that it has been proved that his way of coaching that particular club is not the only way. Men of vastly different personalities have done it and succeeded.

You couldn't be much further apart on the spectrum than Millward and the current Saints boss, the close to unquotable Whispering Mick Potter. Or the affable Shaun McRae and Ellery Hanley. And yet all of them - plus arguably the pick of the bunch, Daniel Anderson - have got the job done.

There must be a moral to this somewhere. Perhaps it is that all of them - with the exception of the special case that was Hanley - have been left for long enough to get on with it and put their stamp on their team.

It's not always the same stamp and it sometimes ends in tears, but whilst a coach has Saints' playing staff at his disposal he generally makes something of it.

You could argue therefore that turning Leigh around was Basil's big achievement on his first foray into the English game. I can vividly recall that he changed the atmosphere around the place in a few weeks.

If he can do the same again, Leigh's aspirations for a Super League place might not look so fanciful any more.

**********

Castleford must have felt last Saturday a little like the settlers who sold guns to the Injuns.

In case you missed it, there was a little outbreak of beer-bottle throwing at the Jungle from Cas fans outraged by Ian Smith's refereeing of their match against the Catalans.

Much as Yorkshiremen hate to waste anything, the cut-price offers for bottles inside the ground made sure that there was plenty of ammunition to hand.

The result might have been the same and both tries might have been allowed, but they were outraged that Smith went to the screen for neither. Stuart Cummings has not exactly dashed to his defence this week, and I'm sure that if the Oldham ref - one of the most genuine blokes in the game - had his time again he would be making the square in the air.

If nothing else, it would have covered his back - always something worth thinking about when the bottles are flying about.
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