Graham in grip of a nightmare
Simon Kelner reflects on a sad experience for the Bradford full- back
It was an afternoon that saw rugby league in its best light before 76,000 at Wembley and a national TV audience. The match twisted this way and that before it was settled by the boot of a supreme performer who must have run his opposite number, Robbie Paul, very close in the voting for the man of the match award. Paul was a worthy recipient, but it was Goulding who made the decisive contribution.
There could be no ambivalence about the quality of fare on offer yesterday, even though it was difficult to work out what the match represented in rugby league's turbulent recent history. Was it the sun setting on an era, or dawn breaking over a new age? Rugby league supporters could be excused for feeling schizophrenic about yesterday's Challenge Cup final. For the last time, the sport's traditional day in the sun was the climax of a winter campaign and, as wisps of cotton wool clouds scudded across the sky, rugby league's re-invention as a summer sport seemed almost complete.
For the traditionalist, there was some comfort at Wembley yesterday. The build-up to the match was understated and dignified. There were no fireworks, no Sky dancing girls or Tina Turner impersonators, just moving renditions of "Jerusalem" and "Abide With Me".
But this is the brave new world of the Super League, and that means non- stop action and points galore. Gone are the wars of attrition; the last time Bradford - then known as Northern - lifted the Challenge Cup they did so by a margin of 12-0. There was no chance of that happening yesterday. From the third minute, when Goulding put Steve Prescott over for the first of his two tries, it was certain that we were in for a points-fest. In a remarkably well-tempered game - just one penalty was awarded for foul play - it appeared that the only thing that would blow a fuse would be the electronic scoreboard. The pace of the game and the searing heat at pitch level made inevitable the gaps that appeared in a second half that saw 46 points scored.
There is plenty in this new age for league followers to get used to, but as St Helens and Bradford showed yesterday, it's not all bull.
Latest in Sport
David De Gea latest: Louis van Gaal wants goalkeeper sold to Real Madrid so Jasper Cillessen can be signed before Saturday
UFC 190 Ronda Rousey vs Bethe Correia: What time does it start and where can I watch it, plus Mauricio Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Arsenal vs Chelsea player ratings: Was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain the star as the Gunners ended their Jose Mourinho hoodoo?
Arsenal vs Chelsea - Community Shield 2015: Mesut Ozil can prove his greatness at last, says Arsene Wenger
Manchester United and Adidas branded 'sexist' and 'discriminatory' as women's shirt features plunging neckline and different design
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 3 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...