I was listening to the radio the other day and they were playing the theme tune to the old ITV Saturday afternoon sports show called World of Sport, and since it’s a Saturday and we seem to be wandering down memory lane a bit at the moment, I thought I’d give you a blast to see if you remember it….
Well it’s been a big week for sport hasn’t it? And another decent week for Brits; Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix and overtook his team-mate Rosberg in the race for the F1 Drivers’ title. Johanna Konta won her first big WTA title and the biggest by any British woman in 30 years after defeating Venus Williams in a nerve-shredding three-set final in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, US. She has a ranking in the women’s top ten rankings in sight. After Murray’s successes it’s good to see a British tennis woman doing well at long last. The England cricket team trounced Pakistan in the 2nd test to square the series and Joe Root had a simply masterful match hitting 325 runs in all. Bloody brilliant. Finally Chris Froome won his 3rd Tour de France title after dominating the race with some scintiallating rides and tactics. Watching it was just great…
Froome’s effort was superhuman, he is a phenomenom. But the thing that was equally impressive about his victory was the team ethic. The support from his Sky team mates to ensure he won the title was just amazing. They were self-less, committed, dominating, super strong and tactically superb. I’ve got to think that the Team Sky general manager Sir Dave Brailsford is possibly the best team manager in British sport at the moment. In a few short years he has taken the British cycling team and the Sky team to unprecedented success through astute strategic thinking, smart selection policy, brilliant appointments, a desire to embrace cutting edge technology and inspired leadership creating an unbelievable team spirit.
It got me wondering whether Brailsford wasn’t the man to take on the England football job. Especially since I in recent times the FA have tried the passionate local but inadequate one (Keegan), the exotic foreign but still inadequate one (Eriksson), the eye-wateringly expensive foreign but ultimately boring and inadequate one (Capello), back to the dour pragmatic Yerkshire one who tantalisingly won a League cup Final with Middlesbrough but unsurprisingly proved hopelessly inadequate, then an old bloke with a speech impediment whose biggest claim to fame was that he didn’t get sacked by Fulham FC. But when it came major international tournament performance his record was played 3, all abjectly. But he was paid over £15m by the FA for his mangificent achievements.
So with so much selection success you’d expect the FA would go for a guy like Brailsford wouldn’t you? You know… incredibly smart, articulate, well-connected, forward-thinking, persuasive, believable, inspiring with great man-management skills. Instead they plumped for Big Sam Allardyce. Sigh. Now some would say he fits the bill in many respects with his early adoption of pro-zone data and technology support and his tactical acumen, super confidence in his own abilities and his self-declared motivational skills. Plus of course he was recommended to the FA by Sir Alex Ferguson. It got me thinking…Sir Alex was very happy to put him forward for the plum England job but didn’t feel he would be up for the job at Man United. Umm funny that. Instead Sralex recommended David Moyes for the Man U role and we all know how that ended. About as badly as Roy’s performance.
So England get a guy who’s never taken a team down but who’s been sacked by such major teams as Blackburn, NUFC and West Ham for producing dull, defensive, don’t lose football. He was even sacked by the disgraced Chairman of dear old Blackpool FC whilst Owen Oyston was still in his prison cell serving time for rape. Such class.
But I’m sure the FA feel confident they’ve got the right man. After all any guy who has managed Bolton can surely feel confident about coming up against shoddy teams like Germany, Italy, France, Argentina, Holland, Spain, Brazil, Portugal, and footballing giants like Iceland, Greenland and Rockall.
But if the decision by the FA was lacking in boldness, what can you say about the IOC’s decision not to make a strong statement and ban the entire Russian team from the Olympics and Paralympics in the light of the damning evidence of state-sponsored doping transgressions. Instead they passed on the decision to individual sports federations like a bunch of timid girls. It’s a frigging outrageous. Why are they so scared of Putin? It’s a disgraceful way to end a great week of sport.
It sounds like the name of a great salsa band or a new Man United defender. But Rio trailers is actually more prosaic; it’s a posting about two new film trailers for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games produced by the BBC and C4 respectively. I’ve only seen one twice and the other once and I’m spell-bound. No doubt I’ll be sick of them before the events but from this perspective they look fantastic.
Well that was a great victory by Lewis Hamilton in the US Grand Prix last week-end wasn’t it? You may also know that in the process Hamilton also overtook Nigel Mansell’s record of most GP wins by a British driver, which he’d held since 1992. Lewis now has 32 victories to Mansell’s 31, with 27 by Jackie Stewart, 25 by Jim Clark and 22 by Damon Hill. Which is quite a feat given that Lewis is just 29 and can hopefully look forward to racing for quite a few years yet.
Well Kylie duly appeared in something very skimpy, apart from the head-dress which was HUGE. And she sang her stuff including CGYOOMH just for me (TYK). Then to close the show we had Dougie MacLean. Who? He must be big in Scotland and he sang something folksy but surely, surely it was crying out for the Proclaimers to close it on 500 Miles. Ah that was probably a bit of self-irony too far. So the final scene was the ‘whole cast’ singing Auld Lang Syne. There must have been at least 7 people on the largest stage and landing strip I’ve ever seen. Sigh. Anyway enough of my mocking, it was a great event and showcase for Glasgow, like the TdF was for Yorkshire. It’s been a good summer for highlighting what our great country has to offer beyond London I think.
Look I thought the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, which seemed to receive universal praise, was a bit celtic inscrutable; i just couldn’t tell where the irony and self-deprecation stopped and the Scottish whimsy took over. But at least it was a hoot. I’ve been watching the closing ceremony for over an hour now and it’s been as much fun as a colonoscopy. Lots of tents (there’s that irony bit – got it, but no midges? because there sure were the only frigging time we camped in Scotland – and rain) and Lulu singing Shout (groan) and Deacon Blue singing something awful then some diddly dee singers then 40 minutes of crap speeches and a tourist advert for Australia’s Gold Coast, ya big gallah. It has been as much fun as a big jobbie in the Commonwealth Games pool. I’ll give it 10 more minutes and if Kylie isn’t on singing Can’t Get You Out of My Head in something very slinky and skimpy, I’m off down Sauchiehall St and heading south to C4.
Oh blimey I’ve been watching the opening ceremony to the Commonwealth Games tonight. It’s well into its programme (Rod the mod’s been on twice now) and it has certainly livened up. But am I alone in thinking it was a very clunky start? Jeez. I said in my review of the WC opening event that I thought Danny Boyle had killed it for every artistic director of major events for the next 20 years. And Glasgow’s opening hour sure proved me right. John Barrowman singing a medley of barmy Scottish ditties and kissing some bloke (as you do) and a few hundred dancers (not enough) portraying Scottish life stereotypically, as if it was a London 2102 Lite pastiche. I asked my wife how long before the first bagpipes were heard; she said 5 minutes, I said 1 minute, I think it took 15 seconds. Then there was the whisky song, tartan galore, a big haggis, the Loch Ness monster, Scottish terriers and a film clip of Andy Stewart singing something like ‘Donald where’s yer troosers?’ Look it could well have been ironic and tongue-in-cheek but you never knew where the ‘just joking’ line was. And then they introduced the acts… Rod (OK), Susan Boyle (grim) whilst they emptied the playing arena so it looked like nobody had turned up to listen. Bizarre. I was actually aching for the Proclaimers to walk on and do ‘500 miles’ just to get the action flowing when they did an acapella version to two people dancing ballet to it. It was quite lovely I thought but the event needed a burst of real energy and it never really came.
As I said above it got going a bit once the athletes piled in, but what were the Scottish team wearing? OMG it looked like something designed by that Scottish picnic basket of a designer on ’60 second make-over’. Shocking. I shalln’t mention the head honcho chappie having trouble taking the top off the Queen’s official message torch; it was one of those nights.
But hey all the athletes were having a great time and the crowd warmed up enormously once the Scottish team were unveiled. This is the ‘friendly games’ after all – even the English team got a decent cheer – so I’ll be gracious and say it started crappily but ended joyously and I’m looking forward to a great Games. But sack the Director.
Well it’s an acronym that’s become rather well known over the last few weeks as today sees the start of the Tour de France in that beautiful French Département of Leeds et Harrogate. Regular readers might have expected me to do one of those Welcome to Yerkshire phrasebooks for t’Tour competitors but I see t’internet’s full of them already. And I recently did a piece entitled Horse’s Doovers on Yerkshire lass Caroline who mashed up her French phrases on Come Dine with Me. How often can you Mock the Weak?