Down in Paradise City
Sean Long returns to Saints this weekend and Hull hope the grass is still green, writes Bill Arthur.
Last Updated: 03/02/10 12:42pm
If you ask a leading player who their influences have been in their career you'll normally find it was another great player, but for one Super League star the answer is an axeman from Stoke-on-Trent.
Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash - whose real name is Saul Hudson - was born in the Potteries. And he is cited as an inspiration by the man who'll take centre stage in Super League this weekend when he goes back to the club where he's a legend on and off the pitch.
That's where Slash comes into it. Because when Sean Long sat down to write about his colourful career at Saint Helens he decided he'd go for the no holds barred and full disclosure approach. Long didn't want his book to be like so many current sports autobiographies, full of dreary details about shopping trips with the Mrs, choosing furniture or a new luxury motor. So, being a big fan of music autobiographies he checked out the Slash book as well as "Scar Tissue" by Anthony Keidis, the Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist.
Now both those books are not for the faint-hearted or the prudish. In fact there's stuff in them that makes you cringe. And that's the approach Long opted for when he sat down with journalist Nick Appleyard to write "Longy", which turned out to be one of the most talked about sports books of 2009 - for a variety of reasons.
Thankfully "Longy" never comes anywhere near the excesses of Messrs Slash and Keidis but his is not your run of the mill sports book. As Saint Helens chairman Eamonn McManus pointed out at the time of publication, it won't be ranked as a work of literary genius but it is highly entertaining. And we have Slash and a Red Hot Chili Pepper to partly thank for that.
Long does have a bit of a grizzled rocker look about him these days. He still has the dreads, his right eye is a bit wonky after the cheek fracture he suffered in 2005 ( he reckons he's had 20 operations so far in his career) and at times he looks as though he could line up alongside Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew on the Black Pearl.
But as he tells Boots 'N' All this week, 33-year-old Sean Long has now mellowed and is only likely to go off the rails a couple of times this season! He's opened a new chapter in his life with his move from west coast to east (sounds very rock 'n' roll) and has been made captain at Hull. He'll lead the FC team out at St Helens and will undoubtedly get a rousing reception from the Saints supporters, who remember his 12 eventful years at the club and the part he played in winning four Super League titles and five Challenge Cups, as well as his three Lance Todd Trophy wins.
The Black and White fans will be hoping that just a little bit of that great success can rub off on their team and that their new captain can lead them to glory. After their third from bottom finish last season, maybe he can take them back to Paradise City. All together now.....