Two game weekend should test the old mental capabilities.

This weekend, Andrewrileysportsjournalist hits up two very different games of rugby league. Here, he previews both games.

Well, it’s been a while since I felt well enough to not only attend back to back games, but to preview them AND match report both will be a stiff test of how my mental health is coping. Let’s start with the previews though. The simple bit.

First up on Friday night is Salford Devils and Castleford Tigers in the “Super 8’s” at the AJ Bell stadium.

Super League Super 5's
Super League Super 8’s

The last time the Tigers visited the home of the Devils, it was a tight, cagey affair, with Salford coming from behind to win the game 13-12, with Gareth O’Brien kicking the all important one pointer to seal a win that would be the first of five in a row for the Devils.

That run set Salford up for their best finish in a regular season since 1980.

Ian Watson has named a very strong side for Friday night.

Kris Brining is back after a spell on the sidelines, and Ryan Lannon also returns for a game that could have a very big say in the Devils charge for a Grand Final spot.

Michael Dobson is still not 100% after the knock he picked up in the Challenge cup game against Wigan, and Josh Wood and Kris Welham also miss out.

Salford fans will be pleased to see Tyrone McCarthy and Manu Vatuvei both take the field at home for the first time.

Jake Bibby, Kriss Brining, Todd Carney, Niall Evalds, George Griffin, Weller Hauraki, Greg Johnson, Josh Jones, Graig Kopczak, Olsi Krasniqi, Ryan Lannon, Robert Lui, Tyrone McCarthy, Daniel Murray, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Gareth O’Brien, Logan Tomkins, Adam Walne, Manu Vatuvei.

Tigers coach Daryl Powell has also named his 19 man squad

Matt Cook, Alex Foster, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Jy Hitchcox, Oliver Holmes, Tom Holmes,   Nathan Massey, Mike McMeeken, Paul McShane, Grant Millington,  Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Joel Monaghan, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Gadwin Springer,       Jake Webster.

Prediction? The Tigers are licking their wounds after losing to St. Helens at home last week, and will want to wrap up the league leaders shield sooner rather than later. My bet is Castleford by 8 to 12 points, but Salford will be looking to halt a slump.

Super 8's The Qualifiers
Super 8’s The Qualifiers

Slightly further down the league, Leigh Centurions take on Hull Kingston Rovers in the “Qualifiers”, with one team looking to retain top flight status whilst the other looks to return to where it, and it’s fans, feel it belongs.

Both sides got off to winning ways in round one, Leigh away at Featherstone Rovers in front of the Sky cameras, and Hull at home to Halifax, who surprised some by beating the Robins in the final round of the regular season.

Head coaches Tim Sheens and Neil Jukes will be looking for more of the same commitment from their respective charges in front of the Sky Cameras at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday afternoon.

Both coaches announced their squads for the afternoon kick off on Sky Sports.

Leigh Centurions (from) 1 Mitch Brown, 29 Lachlan Burr, 5 Matty Dawson, 7 Josh Drinkwater, 31 Matty Fleming, 13 Harrison Hansen, 9 Micky Higham (Captain), 21 Liam Hood, 23 Sam Hopkins, 34 Samisoni Langi, 18 Gregg McNally, 16 Antoni Maria, 33 Daniel Mortimer, 11 Cory Paterson, 20 Ben Reynolds, 35 Greg Richards, 12 Glenn Stewart, 15 Danny Tickle, 17 Atelea Vea.

Hull Kingston Rovers (from) 3 Thomas Minns, 5 Ryan Shaw, 7 Jamie Ellis, 8 Nick Scruton, 9 Shaun Lunt, 10 Chris Clarkson, 11 Maurice Blair, 12 James Greenwood, 13 Danny Addy, 19 George Lawler, 20 Matty Marsh, 21 Robbie Mulhern, 22 Andrew Heffernan, 32 Kieren Moss, 33 Ben Kavanagh, 36 Justin Carney, 37 Lee Jewitt, 38 Chris Atkin, 39 Mose Masoe.

When the two clubs met in the Qualifiers last season, Leigh took a giant step towards automatic promotion, coming from behind to beat the then Super League side on their own patch, 18-25.

Tries from Hopkins, Dixon, Dawson and Drinkwater sealing the win, with Ridyard not only kicking four from four, but also adding a drop goal for good measure.

This season however, the teams met in the earlier rounds of the Challenge Cup, Rovers this time running out 10-23 winners at Leigh sports village.

Can lightning strike twice?

The best way to find out is to actually be there, and the ticket office at Leigh will be open until 8pm tonight (Thursday) and you can also buy online.

If you cant be there, then the game is live on Sky sports Main Event.


My mental health consultant has never seen me. Why?

For years now I’ve been diagnosed with mental health disorders.

Bi-polar, depression and the latest, bio-chemical depression, just 2 months ago.

The NHS is running out of meds for me to try, the latest being Mirtazapine, after 3 months on Duloxetine.

I’ve forgotten the names of most of the pills I’ve popped.

My problem stems from my strokes in my mid 30’s, not some chemical imbalance, so it’s hard for my consultant (who has only ever spoken to me by phone and never seen me face to face) to actually know what he’s up against, and until someone somewhere figure out how to rewire my brain and put back the bits that are missing, talking to someone isn’t going to really help.

I’ve seen his staff.


Despite being seen by one Dr and told that I’d only ever seen them, on my next visit, they were away and I was seen by a totally new Dr, who had only had chance to spend 20 minutes looking at my notes before seeing me.

So much for continuity.

Problem is, when the pills stop working after X period of time, and I start to sink into depression, I have to undergo months of swapping pills, not sleeping right and wanting to kill myself.

I have asked on 2 occasions to be referred for ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), only to be told I don’t know what I’m talking about, and despite my going away and investigating it’s pluses and minuses, and deciding that the positives outweigh the negatives, for me at least, I’m still treat like someone who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing.

I appreciate that the majority of patients on the NHS may not be as well educated as I am, nor as able to educate themselves on what medications they are given or treatments offered to them. but to be told have sex and travel (in the politest way possible though) is an awful feeling.

I’m now into week two of the Mirtazapine, another week of 1/2 strength sleeping pills and I’m due to start a new job in 10 days time!

I really want to jump off a high building, walk under a bus, OD on something, anything, just to stop feeling this way.

Yet, I’ll carry on popping the pills until I’m due to see my shrink in October, hope they actually work and then ask again for ECT if they are not.

I wont be taking no for an answer this time though…

Any desire by my consultant to ignore my wishes will see me asking for him to be replaced.

How many times can a medical expert ignore the wishes of his patient, if that patient probably at this point knows more about the asked for treatment than they do?

Talking therapy has never helped me.

I’ve tried it, and never had any discernible benefit from it.

Its also the reason the pills stop working after a period.

So, here I am, about to start a new job, struggling to keep myself alive, worrying about my future, and desperate not to tip myself over the edge.

That leads me onto another thing.

I don’t care who tells you things are better out there in the real world then they used to be, You go for a job, admit you have mental health problems, they pass you over like a jumbo in mid flight.

As it is, I have a wife who appears to have resigned herself to my being about as much use as an ashtray on a moped.

Without her and my children, I’d have been dead long ago.

Why am I struggling?

Its because my meds haven’t kicked in properly yet, but I’m still taking them.

I’ll keep trying because I don’t want to feel like shit every day.

My hope is that one day there will be something that they can do to stop this cycle from happening, as I don’t want to carry on like this until I do drop dead.

I also hope that one day I’ll find a mental health consultant who isn’t so happy to dismiss his patient out of hand when he suggests a treatment.

Yes, mental health on the NHS is underfunded and understaffed, but all I’m asking for is a little thought before being shunted from Dr to Dr.

Is it worth my asking for a change of consultant?

I really don’t want to kill myself, but sometimes I feel like I’ve no other option if I actually want to be listened to, but by then, it’ll be too late.

REVIEW: Watching goldfish suffocate, Kings Arms, GM Fringe 2017

Andrew Riley went along to the Kings Arms in Salford to watch Vertigo Theatre Productions new staging of “Watching Goldfish Suffocate” Was it worth the trip? Read on…

Every so often, there comes along a piece of work that changes how you feel or think about certain things.

Watching Goldfish Suffocate is such a piece of theatre.

Many a real life tale has been told on stage across the years, but very rarely has a play captured the current mood of change as this does.

Mental health affects one in four people in the UK, and to suffer the way co-writer David Degiorgio has, and to then put it out there for everyone to see takes not only skill, but real guts.

The stigma around Mens mental health is one of the current cause célèbre that has been taken up at all levels with artists, politicians and sports personalities getting involved.

Directed by Craig Hepworth with minimal staging, this play shows Davids descent into paranoia, anxiety, psychosis and his return to health.

It’s a show that not only deserves the rave reviews it achieved last time out, but should be seen by as wide an audience as possible.

It must be difficult to direct someone who is playing you, but in Joe Slack, Craig Hepworth has a very capable an accomplished actor who is able to switch between multiple roles with such ease, its possible to believe that there may be more than one Joe in the show.

Joe Slack
Joe Slack

Playing himself, David Digiorgio is a towering presence on the stage. Because this IS his story, it makes his performance even better, because there is no doubting his every nuanced move and infliction is torn from the very depths of his own experiences.

As we watch his descent into his own personal hell, we meet his inner demon, played by the extremely able Benjamin Corry, who is so evilly lit, you can feel him creeping over your own shoulder when not creeping over David’s.

Benjamin Corry and David Degiorgio
Benjamin Corry and David Degiorgio

The cast is finished off with Celine Constantinides, who wonderfully leaps between characters with the same ease as the rest of the players.

Celine Constantinides and David in Watching Goldfish Suffocate
Celine Constantinides and David in Watching Goldfish Suffocate

This play has sold out its run at the Greater Manchester Fringe, and rightly so. By the time we arrived at the interval, both I and my guest were left regretting not bringing along tissues more than once.

The play is effectively divided into Davids decent into illness, and then his resurrection from hospital into deciding to write the play with Craig.

The fine line between humour and drama can be difficult to tread, and this could be a macabre experience if handled wrongly, however in Hepworth we have a young, yet very talented director who is not only certain of his own strengths, but also seems to know how to get the best out of his cast without falling either side of that fine line.

When you hear the audience discussing their own mental health with strangers during the interval, you know that the work you are watching has found its mark and is doing what its authors intended, helping end the stigma around an illness that was for many years, hidden away and, if not ignored, then certainly not readily discussed openly.

This show deserves to be seen by as many people as possible, and when you leave a theatre in happy tears, you know that you have watched something truly special.

There has to be someone, somewhere, willing to take a punt on a fringe show and put it on the bigger stage. I for one would love to see this show given such a chance, be it in Manchester, London, or elsewhere.

This is not a show that will be for everyone, but its certainly a show that everyone should have the chance to see.