James Graham: mad dogs and Englishmen
TV image shows the allegation levelled at James Graham by Billy Slater
With one small flash of his ‘Hampstead Heath’ on Sunday evening, James Graham went from a solid, toiling, and mildly comical looking front rower, to future rugby league grand final trivia answer.
What is it with those barmy blokes from ‘oop North and acting all well ‘ard and all that then, eh?
Reilly, Morley, Bishop, Gregory…loonies the lot of them!
But with all of the above ‘hardmen’ at least we knew from the moment they got off the Nanny goat that they possessed a touch of the psychos. Sure we had our doubts about a bloke with the name Adrian, but several suspensions quickly cleared up any issues Australian crowds might have had with his disposition.
But James Graham? No, lovely chap. Clever with his hands and a dream to supercoach.
Sure there were stories about Graham tossing his runners up medal in the dustbin on Super League grand final day, but losing five of them in a row could turn even Steve Menzies into a foaming Les Boyd.
Certainly there was nothing in Graham’s 2012 Bulldogs campaign to indicate the madness lying just below a heavily Vaselined surface. It’s been a couple of days since bite night though and I’m still shocked, there are just so many questions that need to be answered.
Was it premeditated? Where was his mouthguard? And why didn’t he choose the much more obvious target of Slater’s snoz?
Perhaps some of the blame lays with us, and the abominable snowman is a monster that the Australian rugby league public have created. Let’s face it, ever since the late 80’s we’ve treated the English like, well, like they treated us till about the 70s i.e. absolutely roobish.
At every opportunity we assume it’s our patriotic duty to take the mick out of their Super league comp, and if they do turn out to be a Burgess or a Widdop our CEOs will hold them back from playing mid-season internationals for fear of injury…all the whilst letting the locals bash each other senseless in Origin.
Taunted and provoked like rats in a cage, it’s no wonder many English players choose to silence the doubters the same way their great players did for decades, by proving that they are more well hard bastard than wimpy limey.
In many ways though Graham’s bite is likely to have the reverse affect that he may have intended, as biting Australian rugby league’s most individually gifted player is far from a one up for the English game. Any fear he may have placed into the heart of Slater faded almost instantly, and paints Super League refugees in the same light as the loser local comp team who can’t win a game so just decides to go the knuckle.
Personally I hope to see Graham, and a few of his mad Mother country mates, in the NRL for years to come. Perhaps it would be best though if they bought a big hat, stayed out of the currant bun and showed us the best of British skill, rather than skulduggery.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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