Richard Oliff: Denied chance to share Saints’ glory

Richard bemoans the fact he wasn't able to watch Northampton Saints win this year's title showdown on television
Richard bemoans the fact he wasn't able to watch Northampton Saints win this year's title showdown on television

Last weekend I was reminded of something from my childhood that was certainly better in principle and access – forgoing a few technical and quality differences – than it is today.

Motor racing, in particular Formula 1, rugby union and British boxing at whatever weight or level.

My motorracing heroes were Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna, today they are Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

In rugby it is always the current England side followed closely by the two counties that have influenced my life the most: Northampton and Leicester.

Then there’s boxing. When the Telstar’s one and two satellites were launched in 1962 and 1963 they allowed us here in Britain to see, for the very first time, live television transmissions from the other side of the world.

My dad and I would sit together watching the progress of a young Olympic champion boxer called Cassius Clay – later Muhammad Ali – as he fought his way to greatness and into the history books.

As I sat watching those bouts in my woolly tasselled dressing gown as a boy of six or seven, it never once crossed my mind that I would one day have to pay money to watch such greatness appearing before my very eyes.

If we had to pay to watch England play in this summer’s football World Cup I’m sure there’d be an outcry, yet last weekend, I had no choice but to listen to the radio as Northampton were triumphant over Saracens at Twickenham, and Carl Froch successfully defended his boxing world title at Wembley.

Naturally I’m fully aware of the financial implications of the various scenarios, it’s just that it sometimes feels unfair.

Incidentally, I recently discovered that as of last year Telstar’s 1 and 2 were still in orbit: now, that’s quality!