Right Wing Over from the Reichstag End


There a million quips to be had from this story: N.F.Farage opening for the Gentlemen etc but I shall desist. So instead of reporting this to you in my own words, and not being able to do it justice, here’s the full story from todays Beeb website.  As a regular (every morning about 6:30) cricket tourist, I am not sure I’d have made myself available for this one. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating read. Great stuff.

The English cricket team that toured Nazi Germany

Vintage cricket bat and ball

The visits of sports teams to Nazi Germany in the 1930s still generate controversy today, from the Berlin Olympics’ anti-Semitism to the England football team’s Nazi salute in 1938. But a new book tells the story of a cricket team from Worcestershire that found itself at the centre of a now-forgotten furore.

In August 1937 the Gentlemen of Worcestershire cricket club arrived in Berlin to compete in three games organised by members of the Nazi hierarchy who had developed an interest in the sport.

The Nazi Reichsportsfuhrer Hans von Tschammer und Osten had visited England to watch the Davis Cup tennis semi-final between Germany and USA at Wimbledon. He was also invited to Lord’s as part of a tour of the summer’s sporting events, where he watched Middlesex beat Worcestershire.

The MCC recorded the visit, and it’s likely that von Tschammer met Maj Maurice Jewell, a former Worcestershire player and stalwart of the Gentlemen of Worcestershire, and asked him to bring a cricket team to Berlin. The Gents, as they are still known, are one of the oldest surviving cricket teams in the world, having played their first match in 1848. Known as a wandering or nomadic club, with no home ground, the team has always been made up of a group of cricket enthusiasts and predated Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

German newspaper of the time advertising the tour by the "gentlemen von Worcestershire"A German newspaper reports the tour of “die Gentlemen von Worcestershire”

After the Nazi minister’s request, Jewell was able to rustle up a team of wealthy gentlemen, five of whom had played first class cricket for Worcestershire, as well public schoolboys who could travel within a few weeks to Berlin.

Peter Robinson, a 16-year-old schoolboy, “was taken on the tour to make up the numbers”, says Dan Waddell, author of Field of Shadows, which tells the story of the 1937 tour. But Robinson ended up playing every match after a regular was taken ill with pneumonia. In a letter sent home on 4 August 1937, Robinson describes drinking on the morning they arrived: “It is about 9.15 am. The beer here is much nicer than in England.”

The Gentlemen were too good for the Germans and won all three games comfortably.

But what went on off the pitch was more remarkable. The team arrived in Berlin as the city was celebrating its 700th anniversary in an event manufactured by Nazi propagandists as another excuse to show off military might in a series of parades.

Berlin August 1937Berlin, August 1937: The cricket tour arrived during Nazi celebrations of the city’s 700th birthday

The Gents were asked to give the Nazi salute before their first match. As dutiful guests, they obliged.

“I think they were just being polite” says Waddell, who tracked down diaries and scrapbooks handed down by the players to their relatives. “They would have hated to have been seen to be impolite, or snubbing their hosts.”

German newspaper photo of English touring cricketers

Richard Williams bats for the Gents during the tour

The salute occurred just after the team had arrived, but by the time they left Berlin, their attitudes had changed. “If they’d been asked to do that for the final match they wouldn’t have,” says Waddell. “They refused to have their picture taken with the Reichsportsfuhrer because their unease had grown to such an extent.”

Richard Williams, one of the players, later recalled their departure. “We were lucky and glad to get to the station.” As well as detecting the sinister atmosphere, some players were annoyed by gamesmanship from the Germans. Robinson complained: “I was run out in the match to-day by the bowler. He never bowled the ball and ran me out as I backed up. He never warned me.”

The team had been closely watched during their visit. Although able to enjoy the delights of Berlin’s famous nightlife at first, the close scrutiny under which they were kept had left them increasingly unhappy.

The relations between the two teams were generally good, Waddell says, though they disliked the Berlin captain Gerhard Thamer, “who had a penchant for punching fielders who dropped catches off his bowling”.

The atmosphere of intrigue around the tour led to speculation that one of the English players might have been a spy. Robin Whetherley was a good cricketer, but had no connection at all to Worcestershire or the Gents cricket club. He even travelled separately.

Waddell’s theory is that the English cricket authorities informed the Foreign Office of the tour, and that Whetherley, who spoke German fluently, was asked to join the team and gather information. “There was a very good chance he was sent along by London to keep a very close eye on what everyone was up to, and perhaps when he came back, travel to Whitehall and have a chat to somebody,” says Waddell.

Whetherley was killed in the Balkans during the war, while serving with British special forces.

All of the players served King and country in the ensuing war, and perhaps because of embarrassment rarely spoke about the cricket tour. One of the players later described Germany as a “strange place” and said they could hear the sounds of gunfire in the background when they played some matches.

The players witnessed a torchlit procession along the Unter Den Linden which was described as “alarming and eerie”.

Worcestershire County cricket groundWorcestershire County cricket ground

A small number of Germans – including enthusiast Felix Menzel – kept the game alive. In 1945, along with a few equally bedraggled friends, he emerged from the rubble to challenge a group of extremely surprised British troops to a game of cricket. They played and the British team won, narrowly.

But Menzel is now an obscure figure and even the world of English cricket has long forgotten the 1937 tour.

©BBC

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…And the Nominations Are…


Let’s have a quick round-up of the nominees for this year’s award for
Best Picture with a (Non) Sporting Theme:

cranium

Starring Alan Pardew and David Meyler. Dir: Alan Pardew.
(Also nominated for “We Need to talk about Alan”).

.

coma

Starring Harald Schumacher and the body of Patrick Battiston.

.
crouching

Star: Eric Cantona. Prod: Eric Cantona. Dir:Eric Cantona. From an original screenplay by Eric Cantona. Half time oranges by Eric Cantona. And some fishermen.

.

french

Star: Zinedine ‘Popeye’ Zidane.

.

hairspray

Prod: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Michael Ball. Exec Prods: Frank Rijkaard & Rudi Voller.

.

kungfu

 Star: Nigel de Jong. Prod: Michel Platini & Stepp Ladder.

.

platoonStar: Maradona. Music. Lyrics & Choreography: Madonna.

Hot. Drunk. Smelly.


These are momentous times:

1.GB win more medals at an Olympic Games than any Submerged Country since Atlantis won a Team Silver and two individual Bronzes in Synchronized Drowning at the Carthage Olympics of 204 BC.

sochi_hot_cool_yours

2. Meanwhile. just up the road (about 1400K) in Kiev, Government forces clash with Nationalist protestors as skirmishes and street battles turn very nasty indeed. The last time we heard of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement they were helping the Nazis butcher our Russian allies during WWII, which was good of them. I know half of Eastern Europe and the Baltics sided with Hitler, but at least most of them nowadays have the good grace to apologise for it (even if they don’t mean it). Not this mob. They’re proud of their history. Europe seem to be eager to help out and welcome in these Nazi collaborators — or the Ukraine Independence Party, as we might call them. Seems to work quite nicely.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

The Ukrainian Biathlon Team unveil their New kit for Sochi 2014.

3. I won £25 on the Lotto last night. (Chicken Dansak me up !)

4. Charlton beat QPR yesterday and are still in the FA Cup, at time of writing. (Yes I know this should have got top billing, but there are a couple of subscribers out there who, for reasons best known to themselves, care little for the Addicks. I know, go figure.)

Elsewhere, the Incumbent and I traveled to the newly-opened West London Everglades to visit a recently discovered branch of the family. For years now, my Leader of the Opposition has known deep down that there was someone out there, somewhere, who shared a common interest in alcohol and 80s music, and was as soppy as she was. After a long search of hostels and hospices of the English speaking world, we finally met up with Jack and Daniel, two warm-hearted, foul-mouthed, bourbon-swilling party animals, Owners & DJs at RadioFvckOffUCvnt, and now a little sister and a dirty great brother for my other half.

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel's upside down under the optic, just out of shot).

Not quite Torvill & Dean. The Ed takes to the Ice (and lemon) with Jack (Daniel is upside down under the optic with The Incumbent,  just out of shot. And focus).

We DJ’d, ate, sang, danced and drank the days and nights away, all weekend long. I’d been dong my very best since Christmas to shed the odd metric ton and it had been going swimmingly well up to that point. I still couldn’t get into my original Speedo Salopettes which had brought me so much success at Sarajevo ’84, but I have dropped a trouser size or two and can even button my socks up. It all went wrong last weekend. The Environment Agency called round to complain about the increased water displacement since I’d devoured that 2nd litre of gin and that extra helping of Sweet&Sour Chicken Balls.

One afternoon (I forget which) Daniel drove me to a local hostelry which was full of sad drunks, scruffy women and barmaids which ignored us. It was like being home again. We must have made for a strange couple. The Tall one (Daniel stands over 7ft 3″) ordered and drank half a diet coke (he doesn’t do beer and a litre of Bourbon was out of the question as he was my driver for the afternoon). As for the Short One, I hadn’t touched a beer this year (honest—too many carbs) and decided this was a good time to correct matters. 3 pints of Stella and 17 minutes later we were ready to go home to renew our assault on the European Chinese Takeaway Mountain, as well as assuming our position on the starting line of the the Olympic Freestyle Gin Swigging event.

It all seemed a good idea at the time.

The only thing that  could have possibly gone wrong is for more people to arrive and turn it into a party. Which, by an odd coincidence is exactly what happened. At my tender age of 49 and and 4 months, I am ill-equipped to handle a head-to-head 48 hour binge, let alone compete in a mass Gordons-and-Tonic-Fest with two of the Great Bon Viveurs of the civilised world which, as my luck would have it, was exactly who turned up to give us a hand getting drunk. More dancing, singing etc, until I ran the white flag up the pole and retired to someone’s bedroom. I still don’t know whose.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage.

The Ed wakes up next to Daniel after 48 hours of carnage. HOT,SWEATY,FARTY.

As a twenty-something, then a thirty-something, I spent many a Sunday morning waking up in a strange bedroom/lounge/wardrobe, in some part of Kent or London. Everyone else having made it to their homes the previous night, but me stubbornly refusing to leave the party until the last bottle of Cizano Bianco had been finished. Now, being nearly a fifty-something, it was clear it hurt very much indeed. I woke between a big bloke and a very hot radiator. Or was it a big radiator and a very hot bloke, I am not sure. I do know I had 3rd degree burns down one side of my face from the radiator, giving me a look uncannily like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters. And I ached a lot. And I smelled. I didn’t remember drinking Gin though my eyes, but that’s what it felt like I had done.

Having delayed our departure until most of the poison had left my body, and having said our goodbyes we crept off down the M3, heading for the M25 at the speed of a 2-Man Bob which had lost it’s skii-raily-slidey things underneath (you didn’t know I was such an expert, did you?). The Incumbent, presumably acting as break man, remained in the crouched position all journey. Driving like Mr Magoo on Mogadon, I had no intention of needing her to slam on the anchors. It was an eery feeling. I don’t know if you’ve ever driven at 31 miles an hour on the M3 but you get to see so much more, if you can open your eyes. At the moment you’d get to see Sir Ben Ainslie practise for the next Americas Cup on a new lake where London used to be. I cannot have had enough to drink the night before as I still felt thirsty that morning, and all that flood water wasn’t helping.

Home at last, snuggled up warm in front of a roaring curry , we settled down for the rest of the week to watch (why???) every bit of Sochi coverage we possibly could (at least that’s how I saw it). I thought it may have been my hangover, but even now, even though I have a clear head, I still can’t work out what the Games Slogan “HOT COOL YOURS” means. Truth is there have been lots of things which have puzzled me about these Games. For starters, what are we, as a GB team, gonna do in Pyeongchang 2018 when Scotland have nicked all of our best curlers ? The world will come to an end if and when the Scotch bugger off with all our medallists, leaving us a couple of 12 yr old snowboarders and a tea-tray pusher. NO ! I will not have it. They can have the Pound, they can have the Oil, they can even have the Nuclear Submarines, but THEY’RE NOT KEEPING THE CURLERS !!.

Hang on…. what’s that….? They got stuffed in the final by the Canadians ? Oh fvck em then, let ’em go.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics  2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn the fridge on.

A Member of the English Pyeongchang Olympics 2018 Curling Team waits patiently at the West London Training rink for someone to turn on the fridge.

Also, how do you get to be an Ice Meister ? Isn’t that just the coolest job description ? “What d’you want to be when you leave school, Bealing ?”
“An Ice Meister, Sir.  Or a T-shirt printer”. (both characters exit stage left, followed by whacking and crying sound effects).

When a figure skater makes a Horlicks of his Triple Salko, or Armenia 3 decide to come down the 4-Man Bob Track (?) downside-up, the Ice Meister is sent for to assess the damage to the …er….ice. Here he comes, armed with a half-filled watering can and one of those scrapers you get a the petrol station. So when I was a kid and Dad gave me a slap for pouring kettles and kettles ful of water onto the icy pavement outside our house, in order to make a slide, I could have simply said I was a trainer Ice Meister. Another missed opportunity. When I start my Rap career (won’t be long now) The Ice Meister may well be my stage name. Or it may be my porn name. Not sure yet.

Finally, who could not have felt sympathy with the brave Japanese Speed skater who crashed/span out of the 1-Legged, 70,000 meters Blindfolded Short Track Semi Final, denying him the chance to make either the Big or the Small Final. It’s not that I feel any more sympathy for him than for anyone else who falls foul of an opponents elbow or a team-mate’s skate in this, the most exciting and random of all the sports on show. Anyone can win, anyone can lose, that’s why it’s such a fun thing to watch. No, it’s having heard the commentators shout out his name several times, especially as he concertina’d into the advertising boards, that I thought to myself that I knew exactly how he felt. Haven’t we all felt like a Sakashita at some time in our lives ? I know I did last weekend.  I suggest he has a hair-of-the-dog to make himself feel better.

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men's 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)

Sakashita of Japan crashes out in a men’s 500m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo)

Saturday Titfers


As true today as it’s always been….

Unknown Football ground photographed somewhere or other, circa dunno. Probably not the Valley.

Unknown Football ground photographed somewhere or other, circa dunno. Probably not the Valley.The bloke near the bottom right-hand corner seems to know the cameraman.

In a quiet side street of the charming hamlet of Charlton, (as in ‘Charlton Athletic Nil’), London, SE7, once stood a little pub called The Valley, named after the local football team’s home ground. A pretty unremarkable little boozer, which my brother and I used to go in for “just the one” at lunchtime on match days (we were supporters, you understand, not players. The players were in the boozer across the road).  It was suitably scruffy, unknown to traveling opposition supporters, and mercifully free of the formica and stainless steel decor favoured by the Slug and Pianos, the All Bar Funs and the Trout n Tillbox pub chains so popular with the yoof of today.

But the feature of this pub which will stay with me forever was an old photograph on the wall. Or to be precise, a photo so large it stretched across two walls, floor-to-ceiling, in the main bar. It showed life as it was 60 years ago, a life sadly no longer with us. The photo at the top of this post, similar to the one in the pub, will give you an idea of what I mean.

Pictured was of the old, massive, main terrace at Charlton’s ground, presumably photographed just post-war. Several things struck you when you looked at the picture: That they used to sell-out home games; Some of the supporters were smiling; No-one was kicking seven shades of shite out of anyone else; and everyone in the photo was male.

But there was something else: of the nigh-on 20,000 people in the photo everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was wearing a hat. Be it a trilby, a flat cap, or whatever, EVERYONE wore a hat. Question: when the time came to throw your hat in the air in celebration of Charlton scoring a goal (quiet at the back!) how did you get your own hat back? It must have been carnage.

I have a particularly big swede and I suspect I would have often walked home with someone else’s cap, 3 sizes too small perched, at a jaunty angle, on the top of my head, while some other poor little sod wore my one, having to walk four yards before the hat moved.
Charlton Athletic beating Liverpool FC 3-0 (yes, honestly), The Valley, December 1959. Charlton Goalie, Willie Duff, scrambles to clear some smudges from the photo.  Not a dry hat in the house.

Charlton Athletic beating Liverpool FC 3-0 (yes, honestly), The Valley, December 1959. Charlton Goalie, Willie Duff, scrambles to clear some smudges from the photo. Not a dry hat in the house.

In 1953 Charlton beat Middlesbrough 8-1 which presumably meant that some of those present changed hats 8 times during the match. I wonder if after twenty minutes you ended up with a real corker of a titfer you just buggered off home and sod the result? Were you refused entry to the ground if you were hatless? What if your chapeau was a birthday present but the bloke standing 7 yards away caught it during the melee after a late equalizer? My mum would have gone Garrity if I returned home without it.

Perhaps it’s only me, but it’s something that’s always bothered me.
The pub’s not there now. Demolished to make way for yuppie flats, a Costa Bundle Coffee bar or somesuch. Gone the same way as epidemic hat-wearing, a thousand proper boozers around the country, and home goals at The Valley.

(originally published by the Sharp Single as “Saturday Titfers” in March 2009. And we’re still waiting for a home goal— The Ed).

Didier Fookin’ Drogbah !


Why do we bother watching football ? Who out there hasn’t felt like this  on more than several occasions about their own team ?

Very sweary Geordie gets himself in a lather about the Toon. (Works perfectly too if you substitute the word Newcastle for Charlton). Things clearly ain’t going well for the Magpies from the Land of My Fathers (well, mothers to be precise). Made me smile on more than once, which is more than Charlton do.

 

Thanks Shola, but fook off !

Champion !

Ou Est le Papier ?


I was never the type to be cursed with too much street cred. Never been known as hard. By anyone at all. But that’s fine, as the late, white MIchael Jackson would say, “I’m a lover, not a fighter” (and there my similarity with Bubbles’ owner ends).  However, I did like to try to carry with me a kinda Jim Rockford—loveable rogue—bon viveur—lad-about-town—rough diamond sort of image, which was invented to say “Hey look, I don’t have to swing punches to handle myself. DON”T mess with me mate.”  Fortunately, thanks to my ability to foresee punch-ups and my penchant for the exit stage left school of acting, I never had to put up my dukes too often.

6701565257_28209b7151_b

Small Boy Gatecrashes Adults Only Rugby Photo. NB: Another winning season under my leadership. Just.

But the little aura of invincibility I possessed buggered off completely one Saturday afternoon in Bromley, South London (not Kent) about a year before the above snap was taken. I was playing inside centre for my school team against a touring French Club side. Dunno why we were playing a drunk touring club side, we just were. Pissed-up and Punchy they were, just like I wanted to be later on in life. But for now I was a schoolboy playing against men. Albeit youngish men, and not very good ones at that. They were called something like Chateaneuf Rugby Club, which was quickly translated into Soixante Neuf (by our coach, Buster), which kept us amused all the while up to kick-off.

But here’s a surprise for you: The oppo’s open side flanker was a cheating thug. Imagine that ! A Flanker: cheating; A Frenchman: niggly. A FRENCH OPEN SIDE FLANKER: Niggly and Cheating . I know, it’s hard to believe. So, as was bound to happen (and this may be the point of this piece —you knew there’d be one somewhere, didn’t you ?) I ended up having a scuffle with this fella. It wasn’t really a fight — he punched me on the nose and I swung (swang?? swinged ??) a huge Dick Barton punch in his direction and caught him hard, smack on the shoulder blade.

skinner

An artist’s impression of what happened in Bromley that day. The artist has since been dismissed.

And then it happened: Estimates vary between 5 yards and 25 yards as to how far my father had run on to the pitch in an attempt to break up this set-to before he came to a sudden halt, blushed, shouted “Oh, sorry”, spun round on his heels and took himself off again. I didn’t see any of this, of course as I was far too busy being punched in the face. But everyone else did. The frenchman and I curtailed out pugalistic activities as the sound of me yelping was being drowned out by the laughter of those around us. It was clear to all present: I needed my dad to save me from a fight on a rugby field. Told you I was hard.

But this is how the french play their rugby: HARD. I’ve been present at many a dust-up on the field in France (present, you understand, not active). I’ve watched from the safety of behind the posts as the team from the French Town we were visiting punched and kicked the living daylights out of us (well, I say us, I mean my mates). I’ve seen legions of my colleagues in maroon and gold shirts become victims of assaults on the pitch by opposition players, cheered on by the ref shouting “Allez, Allez” and waving his arms around in that gallic “what the fuck are you complaining/bleeding about?” sort or way. I once even asked the opposing hooker, (a huge, beared bear of a man) in my very best Franglais,  if he could ask his team-mates to go easy on us; that we’d been on the piss for three days and “really weren’t up for a fight today, just a laugh”.
“Don’t esk me mate”, came the reply in fluent New Zealandish “I jist got ‘ere from Aucklund”.  He was a recent purchase of the club from down under. Apparently New Zealand Senior League front row play wasn’t violent enough for him. We were losing by 40 points after 33 minutes when I called for “Three Cheers” for the opposition and we left the field. It was what Field Marshall Haig would have called a tactical retreat. We capitulated faster than any French Army could ever had done. Almost.

So anyway, the mouth-watering prospect of France vrs England today should herald the start of a particularly enjoyable 6 Nations season. The French were appalling last year, so will be excellent this year (probably); the English will be overpowered up front, and the few who did tour with the Lions will be too fatigued to mount a challenge for the title this year (probably); the Ref and assorted officials will merely be part of an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy, hell-bent on cheating the French out of the match (probably) and there will be niggle, aggro, punches, boots, set-tos and stand-offs a-plenty (WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT).

England v France - RBS Six Nations No-one hates the English more than the French — apart from the Welsh and the Scots. The Irish, Australia, New Zealand, The Belgian Congo, Dutch East Indies and parts of the Miliband family (©Mail Newspapers). And anyone else who knows me — so you can bet the smaller of your testicles that a little bit of, ow u say ? Fisticuffs will be in evidence this afternoon. It’s part of the game. This game may well have been shorn of competitive line-outs, wheeling in the scrum and proper sideburns, but unlike the Super 73 (or whatever it’s called this year),the northern hemisphere version of Rugby Football still retains some semblance of a contact sport. With contact sports you get physical contact, which occasionally escalates into physical confrontations. Especially if you hate that bastard over there. So who will win today ? I haven’t the foggiest. England have faith in Stuart Lancaster and his big plan for Team England (not to be confused with Andy Flower and his big plan for Team England), so let’s see how they go. For me, it’ll be Wales for the Championship, they seem to have just enough strength on the bench that you need nowadays. Or the French. Or England as an outside bet. I’m sure of it.

But I won’t fight you over it.

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