One of them strange weekends when your average non-Sky subscriber feels like a cave-bound hermit in the sporting wilderness. I was settled in to baby-sit the grandson on Friday night – I do my bit y’know but the sooner they get the young lad down a boxing gym the better. If you can’t jab with the left at six years old there’s little hope for you.
Any road, no Sky at this place so I’m scooting through the TV guide for the highlights package. Nowt. Nada. Murdoch hasn’t even seen fit to relinquish a glimpse of The Thatched One bagging his brace. And now it turns out that Tony Blair is godfather to Grace Murdoch. I tell you some days I’d happily feed the contents of my arse into the inner workings of every Skybox in the sodding country.
You tight-fisted misery!
Nevertheless I hear, via 5Live and the easily nettled Alan Green that it was a good victory for England, punctuated by the dropping of one Frank Lampard, halle-fuckin-lujah. There’s a phrase in football – let your feet do the talking – and I’ve noticed with Lamps in an England shirt that his feet are positively garrulous. He takes more touches to complete one pass than the number of passes Xavi Hernandez completes in an entire game.
Refreshing then, but a bit bewildering, that Capello, his job clearly up in a year’s time, finally finds the bollocks to pick the right team. Not sure what they’re doing with that new kit, mind you. There’s summat about the phrase ‘black shirts’ that makes me uneasy.
I’d like to think that Andy Carroll might be a top international striker, but he needs to start treating his body more like a temple and less like a back-alley rock venue.
So in the Murdoch-induced absence I shared the pain of Scotland’s draw with the dodgy Czechs. A blatant dive wins a match-saving penalty. Berra’s riposte – a poor enough performance to earn a walk-on part in Taggart - earned him a yellow card. Cue spurious arguments about the fact that the ref – a Dutchman called Kevin – gave one spot-kick when it wasn’t and so should make the same mistake twice in the interests of balance.
Hmm... that way madness lies. I reckon if they’d had another ten minutes of that game left, each team would have had all its outfield players rolling around in the opposition penalty box with tears in their lying eyes.
And this is where football gets it so bloody awfully wrong at the moment. There’s this tacit approval of conning the officials within the game. The times you see Steve Bruce, Mick McCarthy (or indeed any one of them managers at whom Lady Luck is always flicking the V’s) saying ‘we had one go our way today... that’s football.’ The referee always gets the flak but surely the only one to blame is the sneaky bastard who threw himself to earth in the first place. Or am I being naive?
It was left to the athletics to lift the soul this weekend – and in the form of young Mohamed Farah, the Robbo spirit soared like an eagle attached to umpteen thousand helium balloons.
Denied in the 10,000 metres by the latest lad off the Ethiopian production line, Farah hit the home straight in the 5K with the same death skull grimace on his face. Lagat, chasing him, looked no less in fear of his life. In fact it was hard not to imagine a bloody great lion looming up in the background.
And that’s why I love athletics. No bikes, motors, gloves, pads, just a lad or lass in his/her vest with his eyeballs out, going for it. OK you have to exclude Usain Bolt from that description as the lad just flows across the track like a duster across a newly-polished floor. Whereas, currently, the UK sprinters move like wonky-wheeled shopping trolleys on a cobbled street.
If I’m honest, I tend to enjoy the lads’ races more than the lasses. There’s summat about a female athlete’s body that’s intimidating and well just not sexy. Them six-packs for starters.
Put em away love!
On balance I prefer the hour-glass figure to the brick shithouse when it comes to your lasses. Still, despite the fact that they’re barely wearing owt, they’re not there for my delectation are they? And that Aussie hurdler Sally Pearson would just tonk me in the gob with her leading leg if she read this. She was just magnificent.
And that’s where athletics seems to embrace a good swathe of the assortments of humanity. Scrawny little Kenyans, gangling Croatians, women the size of wardrobes, men the width of the Wirral, all seem to have summat they can have a crack at.
But the sprint finish off the back of a middle distance race... there’s nowt to beat it.
Footy resurfaces tomorrow with England at home to the 115th ranked team in world football. Yes, Wales come hunting a shock, this time armed with the left-wing wonder-monkey that is Gareth Bale. A bigger test for Smalling you might think than some scurrying Bulgur egged on some racist thicksters from the terraces.
I shall be watching it on ITV, bless it, with his dough-faced host the saggy Baggie Adrian Chiles. An Eeyorish attitude suits watching England games, I reckon, so I’m looking forward to the old grouse’s presentation.
He’ll no doubt be accompanied by a whole welter of former Middlesbrough managers – and I think Boro’s current position in the English game is testimony to how much these blokes know.
I see A narrow England win – 2-1 – but that’ll be enough to start gearing ourselves for another let-down over the summer. England fans have sat through more anti-climaxes that the neighbours of my Uncle Keith after he married that Croatian nymphomaniac. We’ll see.
But temporarily at least, with Rooney at the top of his game, there’s a tiny flame of hope for the England team again, even if it has all the permanence of a lit match in a hurricane.