That Would Explain a Lot, Freddie

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Get It Down, You Zulu Warrior


Here’s something from someone called @WelshDalaiLama on Twitter. All good fun and optimistic on his part I reckon, but well-intentioned for all that. Once the Welsh Oozalem themselves into Wooden Spoon position, I suspect they won’t need the rules of a game to dive into the bottom of a bottle or glass. My doctor has advised me not to be driving or be near heavy machinery during an “epic” monologe by Eddie Butler of the Observer (he changed his name by Deed Poll), but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye (or ear) out for Pit Bullisms.

rugbydrinkin

It seems the BBC have come up trumps with the amount of coverage they have during this year’s northern hemisphere Rugby competition, with “Live and Exclusive” coverage of the Championship promised. They certainly do seem to be very excited at wrestling the coverage from Bitter Barnsey and Woeful Will over on Sky. Though I feel that the BEEB may soon be accused of overkill in the not-too-distant future. Breakfast News’ hilariously awful Mike Bushell this morning chose the Millenium Stadium to misread his own pisspoor script in what seemed like a mini-series rather than a sports report. We are promised much more from him throughout the tournament. Oh Deep Joy!

I’m also hearing that every evening at 11pm there will be a live discussion programme on the big Rugby issues of the day, hosted by Claire Balding and Keith Vaz MP, as it is written in the Charter of the BBC that they should appear for at least 12 minutes every hour of every day the company broadcasts. At least that’s how it feels at the moment.

As usual, some of the information above may not be true at time of publication (apart from the bits about Wales and Mike Bushell).

rugbygridsale

Time to Chuck in the Towel


It comes to all of us at the end. Whether it’s because the state tells you that you’re too old for employment, or when your body isn’t able to carry on – even when your mind thinks it can. Some of us are lucky enough to be in a job which allows us to choose the timing of our retirement. For most of us, the decision is out of our hands.

If you’re a journalist or even a photo editor, you can probably work until your eyes or your liver can take it no more. For some of us, the age of 46 is probably as good an age as any at which to retire; others will go on until they snuff it at their desks/the bar/toilet cubicle. Lots of us can’t wait to go, but there are those who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if not go to work.

If you’re a high court judge you can go on and on until you’re deaf, frail and incontinent. Come to think of it I dunno why I don’t apply. Even politicians seem to go on for as long as they please, though if you stay on too long you risk become a figure of fun as did Michael Foot, Ted Kennedy, or Nicolas Sarkozy.

Boxers are often guilty of staying in the game past their sell-by date. Surrounded by spongers and yes-men, not enough are told not to fight again. Who’d ever tell Mike Tyson “don’t go into the ring again, Champ, or you’ll get a whopping” ? Not me, that’s for sure. Left with cowards and scroungers, Champ decides to have ‘one last fight’ and more often than not suffers the inevitable clobbering.

While we’re on sportsmen, there are those who have the foresight to plan ahead for that time when they no longer compete. Some become successful TV pundits:- John McEnroe, Richie Benaud, Gary Lineker or Michael Johnson spring to mind; Some become fvcking awful ones: Colin Montgomery, Michael Vaughan, Willie Carson. Then there are some who are so desperate to become TV stars they’ll appear on anything, anywhere to further their career: Tessa Sanderson, Matthew Pinsent, Kriss Akabusi but fail even to become children’s entertainers.

Some leave sport altogether and are quite happy to work in the real world, like one of my boyhood heroes, cricketer (and Ashes winner) Chris Old who works in Sainsbury’s supermarket. Not very glamorous but he’s happy.

For some, of course, the end doesn’t come when you want it to. One day, you’re part of office life, getting the tea for everyone and chipping into the Derby sweepstake, the next minute the guvnor calls you in and tells you that the Bell has Tolled for you. Yer outta here. You are surplus to requirements and you are to be replaced with a younger, sleeker (cheaper) version. It’s a horrible and humiliating way to go. And many can’t take it.

Rio Ferdinand is convinced he has still got what it takes to be an international footballer. His boss, or rather, his former boss, or rather the new bloke in the office who doesn’t want to be Rio’s boss disagrees. The new England manager didn’t pick Ferdinand for his squad to compete [sic] in the upcoming European Championship (singular: There is only one Championship being competed for and therefore is spelled Championship. Not Championships. Ok?)

I digress again.

So not only wasn’t he picked for the original squad, but when the bloke who’d replaced him in the team dropped out through injury Rio wasn’t picked then either. In fact it’s probably safe to say that if all 18 original players dropped out, having succumbed to a virulent strain of Green Monkeys Disease, Rio still wouldn’t get selected. He is not wanted. His time has come.

Rio is fuming, He thinks he should play. His agent thinks he should play (shock) and has told the world’s media (well, T’BBCSalford who are the only ones listening) that it’s a disgrace that his man has not been selected. At 34 years of age, Ferdinand knows this will be the last ChampionshiP he had a chance to be selected for. Whether it’s the pulling on of the England shirt again , running out onto the big stage for one last time, or falling asleep half way though the either half (it’d become his party trick), Rio wanted one last chance to show the world what he could do. Sadly, it was never to be.

A combination of his regular attacks of narcolepsy during corner kicks, and the fact that his playing partner is on a charge of racially abusing Rio’s brother means that manager Roy Hodgson was never gonna select both. When a sleepy black bloke is up against a violent, racist, white bloke it seems that whitey will win the day. Thank Allah that John Terry’s court case has been delayed until after the tournament, eh ? What a stroke of luck.

Whatever the reasons behind it, Rio has just got to get on with his young life, and find a new direction in which to channel his…er…talents. Cricketer and legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar has been sworn into the Indian Parliament, making him the first to enter parliament while still playing. Sachin is a humble, personable, brilliant sportsman, regarded as a God in his own country. Rio differs from Tendulkar in just four ways. Though all is not lost for Ferdinand in that respect. If the British Labour party can have Oona King, Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng as MPs, Rio may yet be able to find himself as the least self-serving and most appealing black representative the party has had for many a year.

So having said all that, who was it who couldn’t find it in themselves to gather Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Grace Jones and Shirley Bassey together and say “I’m sorry guys, but you can’t sing any more”? One suspects it should have been to Gary Barlow, but you can’t blame him for crumbling in the face of legends. I speak of, of course, of last night’s Jubilee bash. Possibly one of the most diverse concerts I have ever witnessed, both in content and quality. To hear Alfie Moon (no, neither had I before) and Willi.i.am (ditto) knock out a decent tune, only for the joyous atmosphere to be punctuated by the excruciating wailing of these four (and I’m being very kind to Elton John) aged, has-beens. 12 hours later, my toes have only just started uncurling after McCartney’s performance. One presumes he got the gig purely because Lennon and Harrison are dead, but that is surely no excuse for what he gave us last night. He sounded better at Live Aid – and his microphones failed on that occasion.

If Ringo isn’t busy flashing ‘V’ signs, perhaps he could climb off Barbara for a second and tell his old mate that enough is enough. Obviously the irony of Ringo criticising someone else’s musical talent won’t be lost, even on the purple-haired former unidexter-shagger, but someone’s gotta do it.

As for Cliff, Grace and Shirley: Surely they’re talented enough to realise how bad they have become ? Surely, Shirley. It was woeful. You have all been decent at what you do, but now you’re not. Honest. Cliff sounded like me, pissed in a bar on a mic at about 11.30, dancing on the bar and singing Old Shep. Shirley looked and sounded like me. And the hoola-hooping Grace Jones needs sectioning.

And finally, please don’t think this is age-based criticism. It’s talent-based. You had it once, now you haven’t. Simples. You only have to think back to Englebert last week. THAT’S how bad you lot were last night. Everyone’s different, with different bodies and talents. Tom Jones is very old (he knew Elvis, in case he hasn’t mentioned it) but he can still belt out a number like he could 40 years ago. He even remembered his Welsh accent, which some will find nice. So I’m afraid McCartney has got to be told that it’s all over. Although he might try to make the England squad. He’s got a better chance than Rio.

By Jove


My thanks go to my mate Phil Hollis for pointing me in the direction of this. Click on the pic and it’ll take you to a lesson in proper English. Here at The Sharp Single, you’ll understand, this sort of stuff is spoken all the time. But in case any welshmen may have accidentally stumbled across these pages, Roderick Field’s site will help you in any areas of speech or diction you find yourself sadly lacking. So that’ll be all of them.

Now oppit, the lot of ya.

A Five Eighth and a Half.


It’s sad to hear that Michael Lynagh, the great Australian fly-half (or 5/8 in some circles) has suffered a stoke at the age of 48. Having suffered similar a year at go and at a similar age, my thoughts are with him and hope he gets as much luck as I did, enjoys the same amount of excellent care and attention I did, but put on only 1/2 the weight. Lynagh comes from that rare breed of tackling stand-off halves (no, nor have I) and played in, and though not captain, led an Australian side full of superstars such as Campo, Nobody and Willie Ofahengaue, who not only were a joy to watch and won the 1991 World Cup but also tackled, rucked and mauled like demons (yes, it was that long ago). Michael was a brilliant kicker, runner and tactical thinker and was a true great of the game. Horrible to think of him cooped up in a hospital ward, but one trusts he won’t have quite so many rows with the hospital staff as your correspondent did (I swear, it was the drugs talking).

Meanwhile, the Welsh RFU’s resident Kiwi, Warren Gatland has also been taken crook, suffering with that very common but nevertheless annoying injury: fractured heels. Apparently Wazza was up a ladder cleaning the windows of his Waihi Beach holiday house on the Bay of Plenty, when he stepped back to admire his work. This brings two questions to mind: since when did they start building two-storey buildings down in 1957land ? and; who forgets they are up a ladder ? The former Waikaito hooker (Aha ! there’s a clue immediately) is laid up with both legs in plaster while his summer duties for Wales are handed over to real Welshman Rob Howley.

It’s a pity Gatland isn’t English as not only would he be able to still coach the national side, but he’d be more effective than Dylan Hartley (unless there was a Dwarf Tossing competition approaching) even with the plaster casts. 3/4 of English fans think that if the incumbent English hooker would 1/2 as good at throwing a ball than he as at throwing midgets across bars, he’d deserve his 2/3 of each match he somehow gets every week. As it is he’s been banned for a 1/4 of the season for biting for attempting to chew off 1/3 of and Irishman’s finger. Not that Warren would need to be English to qualify. There’s only a tiny fraction of the team who are.

Oh, That Fellow Davies


Long before I developed my typically English opinions of the Welsh (yes, yes I know it’s mutual), when I was merely a roly-poly soft centre waiting to happen, there was Mervyn Davies. Merve the Swerve Davies was one of those sensational players that, as a young boy, you couldn’t take your eyes off. He was a magnificent specimen, and was picked for both the victorious British Lions tour to New Zealand in 1971 and the infamous 1974 tour to South Africa (the ’99 Tour). When I first took an interest in the oval ball game in 1976 I quickly found two heroes to adore – JPR WIlliams and Mervyn Davies. Yes, they were both welsh and both were as hard as nails. Everything I wasn’t.

WHEN MEN WERE MEN, AND SIDEBURNS WERE ENORMOUS: Mervyn Davies, JPR Williams, Mike Roberts, Geoff Evans, Gerald Davies, John Dawes and John Taylor – London Welsh’s representatives on the 1971 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, 1971

Sadly Mervyn was to retire early due to a brain haemorrhage playing for Swansea in a Welsh Cup semi-final against Pontypool in 1977. It was a sad moment for Welsh, British and world rugby. Mervyn died today, and marks another piece of my childhood to slip away.
The 1970s was a time of welsh dominance and greatness, the reason everyone (me included) loved watching them play and the reason the unsuccessful Welsh teams of the ensuing years could never let go of, and for good reason. It wasn’t just the welsh who pined for the grace and skill of Mervyn, JPR, JJ, Gareth and the like – instead of the lame fair the WRU dealt up for the following 25 years. Little wonder they became bitter, twisted and unloveable. The boyos of the 1970s were a tough act to follow.

When the Welsh team pick up the Grand Slam tomorrow, which they look like they’re gonna do, their captain Sam Warburton will deserve the prize as he is next in a long line of great welsh back row players to ply his trade on the rugby field. When, as he surely will, he becomes the next British Lions Captain he will merely be taking the place of Mervyn who was odds-on to do the same had the brain injury not deprived him of it. Warburton could be truly great, and if Wales are lucky they may be able to find a few more like him and, who knows, rekindle the spirit of that great 1970s team.

Until then I look forward to the BBC digging out the footage of Merv and company thrilling the crowds around the world.

And, as Mervyn was playing No.8 in the 1973 Barbarians vrs New Zealand match, I see no reason for not showing the greatest try of all time again. And again. And in full

(normal English service will be resumed as soon as possible)