Rugby League is an anonymity to the vast majority of sports fans. It does not share the same international recognition enjoyed by its cousin, rugby union. To the heartlands of Australia and North West England, league is a pure passion, deeply rooted in predominantly working-class communities.
Meet Mick Morgan, former player-turned commentator who enjoys cult status amongst league fans everywhere. 548 appearances during his 20-year career, he retired in 1989, taking a job as Castleford’s game time presenter–a fact that will become abundantly clear when you hear the partisan nature of his commentary.
Saturday 22 January 1994: Wigan and Castleford meet in the Regal Trophy Final–fittingly sponsored by a cigarette brand. And so begins Mick Morgan’s tirade of abuse. Enter Kelvin Skerrett, notorious bruiser and accomplished exponent of the misplaced forearm.
Watching Castleford’s Andy Hay weave inside, Skerrett capitalises on the opportunity to take a cheap shot on the grounded player. In true Kelvin style, his forearm comes swinging in, concerned only with decapitation, he had the grace of a bull as he dished out some underserved thuggery.
Mick Morgan reacts:
“Oh, what about that! Send him off! Send the dirty git off! Get him off the field, that were diabolical. Get him off the field…that’s just typical Warriors.”
Next Mick personalises the ref:
“Walk him Campbell if you’ve got any bottle. If you’ve got any bottle Campbell he should walk. That were absolutely diabolical…he’s given him a yella card. I can’t Spayke. You bottless git Campbell. You dickhead.”
Several repetitions later and we’re duped into thinking this is all the clip has to offer. But there’s more. Quickly “Cas” capitalise on the counter, a few sets later and they create a try from nothing. This beautifully sets up another folly of diction from the now ecstatic Mick Morgan:
“Ohhhh, this is it! What a magnificent try! Shove it up your arse! Who’s the best club in the world!? Never mind anyone else.”
The unfiltered passion of Mick Morgan is something to cherish, and a fine example of why rugby league is a sport that commands vigour.
Another glorious reality of the sport is the scope for payback. Just three months later Dean Sampson takes it upon himself to settle the score with Kelvin Skerrett. This occurred during the Silk Cut Challenge Cup Semi-final–again named after a cigarette brand.
Kelvin leaves the pitch with a broken jaw, and once again rugby league’s unmatchable karma ensures no grub goes unpunished.