Book Review – As Good As It Gets – The Story of St Helens’ Grand Slam Class of 2006

This book is about the glorious, all-conquering Saints team that won every trophy 🏆 available to them in 2006.

It’s written by Mike Critchley who works as the sports editor for one of the local papers, the St Helens Star. He sets the team’s year in context, not just of rugby league, but also the team’s importance to the town.

It’s wonderfully one-sided. It’s also written in authentic Northern gibberish in parts, to the point that I feel like asking my London Correspondent if it makes any sense to someone not from my neck of the woods.

The pro-Saints angle actually quite nice, because it’s so common that Saints don’t get the credit they deserve. It does occasionally leave me wanting more information or analysis than the book gives. But that’s understandable because it is quite clearly designed to be an happy overview of that glorious season, not an in-depth rugby analysis book.

The book is also rather obviously pro-Daniel Anderson. Which makes sense. It was a season of success that was partly down to his tactical choices and player rotation. It should actually have been his second title. Saints would have won the title the year before if Sean Long hadn’t had his face broken in a match against Wigan. No part of that last sentence is an exaggeration.  But the book chooses to do this not just by bigging up Daniel Anderson, which is reasonable, but by putting down Ian Millward at any opportunity. I have no idea what Mr. Millward did to the author but it must have been something. (It’s Ian Millward and the author is a journalist so I presume Millward swore at him.)

That, and a couple of “I do not think it means what you think it means” word usage issues, are the only problems I found.

It was interesting to get an insight into how a successful team works, and how it really is all the little things and building things up step by step. The Ade Gardener section, and indeed Gardener’s own analysis of both season and how wing-play works in rugby league, was probably the most interesting part, but there were lots of interesting tidbits.

As for an actual number of stars, this is 5/5 for a Saints fan, 4/5 for rugby league fans and probably 3/5 for other sport fans.

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Alvarez vs Golovkin

Since I’ve written about the freakshow and turned out to be mostly right, I feel I ought to write about an actual boxing match.  And Alvarez vs Golovkin could be a damn good boxing match.

I always feel I don’t give Canelo the respect he deserves.  Because he’s good, he lets his boxing do the talking and he doesn’t duck fights.  He’s a model professional in a time when that’s a rare commodity.

But he’s fighting Golovkin and I ❤ Gennady Golovkin.

I first became aware of Golovkin sometime around the time he moved to the US.  Mostly I noticed the number of boxers trying to avoid him.  It annoyed me because I was worried that he’d never get to make his name because he wouldn’t have strong opposition.

I am so pleased he proved me wrong.

I like tidy boxers, which he is.  I like no-nonsense boxers, which he is.  Also, you know baby-faced Kazakh destroyer 😀

His technique is not perfect; I wish he’d use his feet more to get out of range because he takes way too many punches.  It’s all well and good being an iron jaw (and an iron face in general) but, as someone said about Carl Froch, all that means is people keep hitting you in the face.

I look forward to this fight (and the BBC’s excellent radio commentary).  It should be a good match-up between two stand-up boxers with solid technique.  It’s exactly what I want from boxing.