SO THE new season is upon us. Wigan have already been beaten at home, albeit they have their thoughts concentrated Down Under. Leeds have made two great signings, we hope, in Tom Briscoe and Paul Aiton.
Zak Hardaker is back from the naughty corner, Ryan Hall perhaps never actually wanted away, and JP (Jamie Peacock) has checked his birth certificate and realised he is actually only 21.
The World Cup warm glow is still with us, Super League has a proper sponsor, there is increased 5Live radio coverage, and lashings of extra Sky money promised for the future. And the YEP has a Rugby League-specific letters page!
So I should be extremely happy. And yet ... No doubt we will be splendidly entertained at Headingley, but am I alone in thinking that much of the season is just treading water?
We pootle around winning more than we lose, but getting thumped at home by Saints as is now customary and what does it really matter in the normal season anyway?
The usual suspects, hopefully including Leeds, and perhaps with the addition of the Salford ‘Dead Revels’, will jostle for the top spots at the end of the season and one team will win the League Leaders’ Shield, which is akin to getting voted in as the US Vice President.
Then the serious post-season stuff starts, bizarrely in front of much reduced crowds, with the also rans, whose sole aim is to make ‘the eight’, exiting early and leaving the room for the big boys. Step forward Brian McDermott (and Jimmy Lowes) with your fantastic effort in 2011 and 2012.
But so much of the season is all a bit irrelevant – Leeds usually have a stinky period at some time, but ensure we make the playoffs and can take part in the post season brouhaha, which is all that really matters.
As for the Challenge Cup ... We would very much like to win it, but unless the Super League boys are paired with each other the early rounds can be a bit one-sided and dull, with generally poor crowds and punters just saving up for the Final and a day out in London.
A rather miserabilist view I know! But it is still great to follow Leeds. Whilst the football club at Elland Road suffer unbelievable indignities it is comforting that Messrs Caddick and Hetherington have overseen a long period of stability at our club which combined with the wonderful Sinfield-era of players has seen our most successful period on the field.
Long may it continue. A win in the far east on Sunday would start the season just champion.
Bruce Hetherington, (no relation).