Fitting time to remember the legendary Clive Sullivan

IN the current climate, everything is awash with anniversaries and historic moments.

On the ball: The legendary Clive Sullivan.

Coronavirus has literally seen off live sport and it has meant we are all having to look back at repeats of old games, You Tube clips of classics or little flashes of whatever we can whenever we can to feed our daily fix.

Soon I might even get in the loft to dig out the VHS video recorder so I can rewatch BBC’s 101 Top Rugby League Tries.

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You know the one, with Halifax’s John Pendlebury and Wigan’s Ellery Hanley on the front cover. Vintage.

Given my clumsiness, though, I would inevitably just end up accidentally locked in there with a foot through the ceiling like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

That said, as the lockdown continues, many people might be choosing to head up into the loft for a change of scenery or some extra isolation.

Anyway, I digress. Inevitably, amid all the chaos of this pandemic, to help fill column inches or fill broadcast schedules, there are countless ‘on this day’ features and ‘remember when’ pieces and it is understandable. Needs must.

Once, 10 years seemed the bare minimum before you could even suggest considering a sporting event for a nostalgic review.

The rate it is going at now, that could soon be 10 weeks.

Can you imagine? ‘On the ten-week anniversary of rugby league shutting down, we take a wistful look back at Warrington Wolves’ humdinger with Toronto Wolfpack from February 21.’

Hopefully, things will not get so desperate and the sport will – safely – resume in the not too distant future.

Nevertheless, one anniversary which was mentioned this week and rightly deserves mention was the birthdate of the legendary Clive Sullivan, who would have been 77 on Thursday.

The brilliant Welsh winger, of course, tragically died from cancer at the age of just 42 and in Hull where he had become such a hero on both sides of the river.

Although he passed in 1985, looking back, the bare statistics of Sullivan’s amazing career are still so staggering.

For instance, 250 tries in 352 games for the Black and Whites, which remains a club record, plus 118 in 213 outings for the Robins where he was held in the same reverent esteem.

It was no surprise the city named a road after him and the Clive Sullivan Trophy is annually played for, too, between the two great rivals.

But Sullivan’s star shone brightly all over, not just in his adopted city.

Let us not forget, he broke new ground in so many ways, not least when he became the first black man to captain a major British international sports team.

Indeed, that iconic try Sullivan scored for Great Britain to help defeat Australia in Lyon and bring home the 1972 World Cup is arguably one of the most famous in the sport’s history.

It will have been replayed and replayed time after time again this week. I know I have watched it a few times again and not just because Covid-19 has left us with nothing new to view.

It is more to pay homage to a truly wonderful sportsman. The step, the swerve and then that sheer pace on a lung-busting 90m effort.

Ordinarily, today’s pages would have been full of derby coverage after Hull and Hull KR’s traditional Good Friday contest.

For now, though, it’s just fine and fitting to be able to reminisce about Sullivan instead.

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