Dave Craven: Let’s hope Rhinos film is not As Good As It Gets for League tales on big screen

Leeds Rhinos film premiere 'As Good As It Gets? - Ralph Rimmer with Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture James Hardisty.
Leeds Rhinos film premiere 'As Good As It Gets? - Ralph Rimmer with Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Picture James Hardisty.
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IT WAS Star Wars Day yesterday… May the Fourth be with you and all that.

They really can make up any old nonsense from anything nowadays.

In fact, it will be Nowadays Day next. Anyway, it got me thinking about the movies for the second time this week.

The first one was on Monday having been to watch the premiere of As Good As It Gets? the rather excellent film about Leeds Rhinos’ ‘Golden Generation’ and their 2015 treble success.

It was thrilling to see rugby league on the big screen in such a way as, of course, it is so rarely treated in such a manner.

It was a point made by Jamie Jones-Buchanan, the Leeds second-row and one of the film’s executive producers, who reminded everyone afterwards that there really needs to be more stories from the sport told in more depth.

There are so many worthy stories that do need broadcasting to the masses, not necessarily on the big screen but at least in a 45-minute sports documentary format.

Dave Craven

Aside from This Sporting Life in 1963 and Up ‘n’ Under 25 years later, things have been pretty sparse for rugby league. Unless you include sporadic episodes of Where The Heart Is when Skelthwaite’s side used to have a run around.

But Jones-Buchanan made a valid point. There are so many worthy stories that do need broadcasting to the masses, not necessarily on the big screen but at least in a 45-minute sports documentary format.

He mentioned Tom Briscoe’s exploits when the Leeds winger became the first player to score five tries in a Challenge Cup final during Rhinos’ 50-0 walloping of Hull KR three years ago.

That subject will become all the more topical if his brother Luke goes on and beats another record.

The Featherstone Rovers winger has equalled Martin Offiah’s post-war record of scoring in 15 consecutive matches.

However, if his stunning run continues, he could soon break the all-time record set by Eric Harris, who scored in 17 successive games for Leeds during the 1935-36 season.

But it got me wondering about other remarkable feats that would make great documentaries.

It would be fascinating if the great Bradford Bulls sides of the summer era get the same treatment as As Good As It Gets.... Robbie and Henry Paul, Lesley Vainikolo and Shonny Hape et al.

Similarly, the Wigan dynasty and their years of dominance before Super League, under Graham Lowe and John Monie, is a tale that has to be explored in more detail.

The BBC are set to broadcast a special programme next Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of the Watersplash final between Leeds and Wakefield.

That is just the sort of subject matter that warrants such attention but it must be hoped that other film-makers are now encouraged to delve into the sport’s greatest moments with greater alacrity.

For instance, Sam Burgess’s heroics in the 2014 NRL Grand Final for South Sydney has Hollywood written all over it and not just because the club’s co-owner is movie star Russell Crowe.

Hull FC’s recent Wembley triumphs must also surely have all the ingredients as would some of the brilliant St Helens tales of Keiron Cunnigham, Paul Sculthorpe, Sean Long and co.

But, far more importantly than Star Wars Day, May 4th is also Neil Fox’s birthday; the living legend was 79 yesterday.

Hopefully, a film of some sort dedicated to his truly outstanding rugby league feats will be on someone’s agenda soon.