Monday, 28 January 2013

Cup A Load Of That!

At last! Just when you thought it was safe to dismiss football as a self-interested bunch of millionaires playing at sport while the rest of us cough up to fund their increasingly cynical, egotistical and exploitative endeavours, up pops the FA Cup. Not to mention the League Cup, by crikey.

Yes, football can still be a wonderful focal point for a community. Football can still reward hard work and loyalty, from fans and players alike. Football can still sit sentimentally in our hearts like a good pie and a cup of Bovril from a thermos. (Although the pies ran out dead quickly at Boundary Park.)

In light of the weekend's events you might point to Bradford City as the tipping point. Hellfire, thought the other tiddlers, if the Bantams, who cost about as much as a Premier League footballer's round at a nightclub, can reach Wembley then who the hell couldn't?

I confess to the odd tear when the final whistle blew at Valley Parade. It couldn't have been more miraculous had Gary Jones wafted his hand across the sky and turned the rain into rioja. Granted they were fortunate to be playing a team with all the defensive rigour of a wendy house.

And is it me or do teams that struggle in the top-flight always have a striker who is a 'real handful' but can't actually do what he's paid to do? Christian Benteke's conversion rate must be lower than a door-to-door Jehovah's witness's. He is well ahead in the race for the 2013 Emile Heskey Big Lunk of the Year Award.

It's no wonder Villa keep losing these evening kick-offs. Lambert has to go round his team at 7pm and get them out of their pyjamas with a cup of warm milk before he can get them on the pitch.

But stuff like that doesn't happen more than once, does it? Ah but wait. What about plucky Luton! I'm still struggling with the concept of Luton Town being a non-league side - although probably not quite as much as the average Hatters fan. In my head Luton Town still means Eric Morecambe, and David Pleat dancing in his hushpuppies like an unwelcome uncle at a teenage disco, and Paul Walsh and Ricky Hill promising to be top flight England internationals. (Time does strange things to your memory).

Well now they can add a Premier League scalp in Norwich City as can MK Dons - a forever unlikeable club given its origins. But come Sunday, and there were three certs for the Death of the Romance of the Cup.

Then Leeds beat Spurs - who still betray all the hallmarks of showboating fancy Dans when push comes to shove. That kind of equates romance with Neil Warnock, which is about as ugly a thought as one can imagine whilst keeping your breakfast down. Then Brentford almost turned over Chelsea, a result that a lot of Blues fans wouldn't really of minded given that it would've confirmed every suspicion they had about the Tapas restaurant manager in charge.

And finally we got to Oldham-Liverpool. Poor old ITV. They get the short straw again. A comfy 4-0 victory for the Big Boys, surely...? Rodgers selected a strong team, so we're told. Jordan Henderson was the midfield maestro, and played like an inflatable Steven Gerrard with a slow puncture. (You can buy inflatable Steven Gerrards from just about any Adult Shop in Liverpool. There's not a Koppite who hasn't slept with one.)

There was Fabio Borini, too. One of those anonymous Italians who sounds like he should be good but is more than a bit shit.

But it was one of those FA Cup games. Boundary Park, with stands on only three sides, has the feel of a half-built car-park. The weather was perfect. Rain bucketed down and fell off the roof of the ricketty stand like a partly-vandalised water feature. Wind howled like a portent of doom.

And Oldham - one point in eight games - had in Matt Smith a hero in waiting. Like Bradford's Jim Hanson, a huge bastard with some weedy defenders to get amongst, a sunflower rising amongst the daisies. And who the hell is Coates and why can't we pronounce his name like the legendary Ralph's?

It took Rodgers 55 minutes to bring on the Messiah and all Stevie G did - apart from illustrating how much Henderson has to learn - was witter away at the referee for the rest of the game. You could just hear his squeaky Scouse whine, couldn't you? - like a fly trapped in a jar. (Okay he did hit the bar and was their best player once he came on but... )

It was all too lovely, wasn't it? The only team to really puncture the sentiment was my dear old Boro who stumbled horribly past a very good Aldershot, and will probably fare a lot better should we get them lightweights Chelsea in the next round.

So a week, and a weekend shorn of the cynicism of the season thus far; a throwback to Ronnie Radford and Sutton United and Blyth Spartans and many others too numerous to mention. The only blot on the landscape came not from a player but from a ball boy.

Media reaction to Eden Hazard 'kicking a ball boy' has been utterly ludicrous. I know of only one person who didn't think the lad deserved a cracked rib and that's his Mum. Even the boy himself accepts he's been a total nob.

Yes, footballers are arrogant and superior and, let's not beat around the bush here, obscenely rich (so would you be if someone agreed to give you that much money a week) but they don't have to be patient with that sort of numpty. They say football only has itself to blame for the ball boy's behaviour. Really? Nah. The lad is, as he should be, ashamed of himself.

Hazard should be getting a one-game ban, a tap on the wrist. And, if you ask me, a pat on the back.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Barcode Blues

When I tipped Newcastle United to finish fourth this season, I was drunk. I must have been. (It was after 9 o'clock.)

I also didn't realise that the likes of Cabaye and Ben Arfa would be spending a lot of time on their sofas. Furthermore I didn't think for a second that Papiss Cisse would be a carbon copy of the end of last season but in negative. Indeed, seen in negative Papiss Cisse would look like a white-faced loon with the finishing instincts of a badger in sponge boots - or, as he is better known, Fernando Torres.

It's ironic in these days of short-term, interim, wing-and-a-prayer managers that Newcastle should so stink when their boss is on an eight-year contract. Despite the Geordie bottlers evident success last season I couldn't find many of 'em who were pleased with Pardew getting such apparent job security.

I'll be honest, we north-easterners (loth as I am to lumping us all together) divn tek kindly to some southern jessie gannin up here and tellin' us what footy's aboot, like. NEVER forget this a HOTBED of football. South Shields is England's Copacabana Beach, right? The Wallsend Boys Club has a  cloning machine that's guaranteed to produce twinkle-toed talents with terrible haircuts.

A cockney barrow boy with passable good looks is not what we want up here. We want a bloke who looks like he walks into lampposts every week, and sounds like he enjoys doing so, especially if he's 'taking one for the team'.

Of course the Barcodes are doubly damned cos they've got a Fat Del Boy made good as their chairman. The Managing Director Derek Llambias isn't exactly whole-heartedly embraced by the Toon Faithful, unless it's to squeeze the bleeding life out of him.

The fact that Llambias, Ashley and Pardew are firm friends does make it look like the cast of some two-bit Guy Ritchie gangster flick have descended on Tyneside and turned St. James's Park into their own little piece of Larndon Tarn. The eight-year contract reeks more of good mates helping each other out than sound football and business sense.

In short, Pardew's going to have to work a lot bloody harder than, say, Sir Bobby Robson, to win the fans over. Unlike Sir Bobby, he's got a board who'll back him. And to be fair, a very good season behind him. Hence my inebriate optimism at the beginning of the season (laced, possibly, with the hope of my pundit's curse).

Under the likes of Freddie Shepherd the Reading defeat might of signalled the end.  Certainly Reading are this year's 'plucky' losers. Any point gained gets a patronising pat on the back, like the team have just managed to write its own name or wipe its own arse. McDermott insists he's not under pressure and his team are proving it.

Meanwhile Tyneside confidence is going to be low when a team like Reading's equaliser is swept in off the body of a forward imitating a penguin returning to the icefloe. Newcastle are in a desperate need of a pick-me-up and a decent French right-back is not the tonic they need. The lack of Demba Ba and the continuing misfiring of Cisse could well spell trouble. If Shearer's in charge with ten games to go the game's up my Geordie friends. (Okay, friend, singular.)

Of course, vying for the tag of plucky losers this year was Southampton. (That's if you don't include Arsenal who continue to prove that they can give those top-flight teams a real run for their money, bless 'em.)

The Saints made a poor start (they did have United, City, Everton and Spurs in their first seven matches) but Adkins turned it around. His reward? Cheers mate but we at Southampton FC have  a different idea of how a manager should look and sound. He's got a funny name. He's worked in Spain and everything. He will take the club forward.

That's right, the bloke who has led the club to two successive promotions and up and out of the relegation zone after a draw at the European champions is taking them sideways, isn't he? You ruthless, vicious, cynical, arrogant tossers. It was bad enough when Newcastle dumped Hughton, but this. It's such a flagrant disgrace, it's positively Suarezian.

Adkins struck a chord with most of us natives, I reckon. He seemed a stout solid citizen. Honest, straightforward, not too sophisticated. The sort of bloke that Tynesiders welcome. He did of course come up with the most lamentable excuse for Rodriguez's dive last week but we'll leave that to one side.

The only exucse for replacing him, it seems to me, is malice. Unless Fagin's in charge at the Saints and he couldn't stop singing 'You've got to pick a Pochettino or two.'

All I know about the Argentinian is that he's a decent leg for Michael Owen to pretend to fall over. Watch this:
..and you'll see where Chelsea's Ramires gets his cunning stunts from.

Frankly I don't wish the guy well. I hope Southampton pay for their decision. I'd be surprised if they don't. But first they've got to get below Newcastle. It's not going to be easy.

Meanwhile Adkins will be back in a job very soon. I understand the Blackburn Rovers job is up for grabs in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Pundits Never Fail

One of the great joys of being a football pundit is the ability to always be right regardless. Anyone whose occupation depends not upon predicting the future but on reassessing the past has a considerable advantage. As someone once said ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing’. And as my mate Tony Thompson said “Fuck me that’s an easy job.”

I listened to the Arsenal-Man City game yesterday on the radio. Martin Keown was the expert summariser. Keown was part of a back four that Wenger inherited and was sensible enough not to tear apart. Lee Dixon was the pretty boy of that unit which tells you all you need to know about the rest of them.  They redefined the concept of ‘winning ugly’.

Since they left Wenger has proved that he picks centre-backs like he’s playing Deal or No Deal. There could be anyone in his box – Igor Stepanovs or Sol Campbell. Arsene just doesn’t quite know.

As a pundit Keown is pretty sure-footed. When Dzeko went down in the 10th minute there seemed to be some confusion as to why Mike Dean had blown his whistle. When the red card was shown there was consternation. Keown couldn’t see ‘much in it’. After the seventeenth replay, Martin conceded that there might have been a case for the penalty to be given (what, because Koscielny had Dzeko around the waist like he was measuring him for a pair of casual slacks you mean?).

Meanwhile that pillar of the BBC sport establishment – I said ‘pillar’ – Alan Hansen said he didn’t think it was a red card but if the referee is applying the strict letter of the law I suppose you could say that it should have been a red card. What kind of double-speak is this?

There was also that lovely phrase ‘the game was ruined as a spectacle’ – Man City beating their feeder club was always going to be spectacular was it? – as if Koscielny bore no part of the blame for the game becoming ten v eleven.
Back on the radio, Keown’s first reaction to the Kompany tackle was that it looked bad from here. But after another fifteen camera angles, it was proved to be a terrible decision by the referee who was already having a ‘mare as it was.

Peter Schmeichel – another of these pundits with an unblemished record in both football management and officiating (he’s never done either) – said that if Kompany’s challenge was a red card then there’s no point in making a tackle in football. Well fair enough. I wonder what you said at the time of the challenge. Cos everyone in our pub was saying he’s got to go, the dirty bugger.
To be fair, Kompany himself, a man who regularly rises above the slurry that passes for football comment these days, said he didn’t blame the ref for making a mistake.

Every game of footy has its pivotal moments and it’s much easier if they’re refereeing blunders. Easier to analyse. Easier to declare that injustice has been done. Easier to absolve the player of any blame.

No one seems to have had a pop at Koscielny for getting the wrong side of his man and hauling him to the ground like an amateur wrestler. It was bloody awful defending.
Nigel Adkins reached new levels of codswallop on Saturday following his team’s controversial win over the Villa Park 5th Cub Scouts.

You might have to wade through a bit of cliché-ridden waffle before you get to the justification of Jay Rodriguez’s ridiculous dive. It really is the sort of self-serving utter bollocks that gives football managers a bad name.
Teammate Rickie Lambert thought it was a 'stonewall' penalty. Presumably when he was growing up in Kirkby Lambert's neighbours made their stone walls out of fuck-all. 

Paul Lambert says Mark Halsey will be embarrassed when he sees it back. Possibly. It’d be nice, just once, if the likes of Adkins and Lambert would wonder whether Jay Rodriquez might just carry a small burden of shame for his appalling plummet. I swear to God you could make a damn fine mime troupe out of the attacking players in the Premier League right now.
I’m sorry if this is becoming a familiar lament but why the hell can’t football be honest with itself instead of all this mealy-mouthed excusing and shrugging that goes on?
David Moyes said Fellaini behaved terribly the other week after nutting Ryan Shawcross, and everyone looked on open-mouthed as if he'd somehow broken the managerial sacrament on defending the players regardless of whether they've been patently dishonest or not. To be honest I was expecting the age-old 'well he's a physical player and if you take that edgeaway from him he's not [insert thuggish footballer's name]' argument.
So I've been trying to work out why I'm so down on the footy at the moment and you know what -  I blame the Olympics.
How dare all those athletes compete so fairly, honestly and movingly? It's like they were trying to say that quiet and dignified preparation and a respect for your sport and your fellow competitors is all part of some sort of ideal. And that it is possible to win things without resorting to deceit, rule-bending and playground banter.
But that just doesn't make sense. I've been watching footy for getting on for forty years and in the last twenty I know that while being good and honest and respecting the officials is all well and good, in practice it won't get you very far. I mean to be frank that attitude is what your modern footballer would call 'unprofessional'.
So yes, well done London 2012. It was lovely, like a beautiful dream. A kind of sporting Shangri-La if you will. But we're back to reality now: managers struck by temporary blindness; pundits prattling on in sanctimonious fashion; and if we're not careful officials cowering in their dressing-rooms. It's great value though boys and girls... just £62 a pop.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Hand of Sod

Ah the immutable laws of football’s professional code. Luis Suarez bats in a goal with his hand like a Dad playing hand tennis with his child (that is NOT a euphemism) and what do the people in football say?

When asked whether Suarez should have owned up, Brendan Rodgers said: "It's not Luis's job to do that. It's not been deliberate as it's pushed up and hit his hand. It's up to the officials to decide that."

When asked whether he felt cheated, Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox said: "No I don't. For me to come out and say something like that I think would be quite cheap.

Matt Holland:  "The answer is not giving individuals morality lessons but giving officials the tools to tackle the problem."

So there we have it. You can't blame Luis if the officials are crap can you? And anyway it was 'instinctive' for him to use his hand illegally. And therefore Luis Suarez was born a cheat.

In other words, there's one rule for footballers and there's another for the rest of us.

I'm not sure the same rules would stand up in a court of law, or even if I was talking to my Dad.

"Why did you steal them sweets, Derek?"
"It was instinct, Dad."
"I think you should go to the police, son."
"Why? It's not my fault they didn't catch me."

Or "excuse me, Mr. Merchant Banker but how come so much of your income remains untaxed?"
"Well don't blame me if no one ever comes a-checking."

Essentially those little lambkins, our tiny ball-hungry (that's not a euphemism) children, doe-eyed and innocent, watch a game of football and learn the first great lesson of modern life: Just get away with what you can. The rules are there to be broken.

It's so embedded in football culture that even opponents patently diddled by such underhand, backhanded or even forehanded skulduggery shrug their shoulders and sigh "That's football."

And there's a bit of me that says well you know what? Fuck football. If it can't be bothered to have some ethics, a bit of morality, a bit of self-respect then what's the point of it?

Paul Cox doesn't want to sound cheap. Well I'll do it for you, Paul. You were fucking robbed, son.

Suarez is a lightning rod for all of this of course. Rodgers has toed the same line as Dalglish. The lad's a wonderfully gifted footballer so we'll gloss over the fact that he hits the deck like a felled tree, leaves his foot in on opponent's ankles, likes to point out racial differences and believes that there are two players on every team who can handle the ball. (Again all of the above are down to instinct, or as some of us say might say, innate evil).

The naysayers insist that if the powers that be won't use technology then it's inevitable that these things will happen. It's not up to the players to do the ref's job for him. Well yes and no.

Two regular offences that blight the game are (a) the diving - and let's not pretend that Gareth Bale British football's Tom Daley right now (the utter sham), and (b) holding and shirt-tugging and all that crap.

Now in the first case I'm all for instant retrospective three-game bans for anyone caught diving, especially if it's an attempt to win a penalty or to get an opponent sent off. In the second case, it's a murky bleeding minefield because it's pretty much obligatory. Referees are being encouraged to deall more severely with it when they spot it but you forget that very often the forward is tugging just as hard on the defender's shirt. It's never that clear-cut.

So there's always going to be areas where a decision is desperately difficult to make, and players are going to do their best to keep exploiting the blurred lines involved.

Patting the ball into the net isn't a questionable decision. The lad knew, just as Maradona and Henry knew, that he's cheated. I don't care what bollocks Rodgers comes out with. Much like any centre-half that comes up against the Uruguayan rodent, he is defending the indefensible.

So yes, use the TV cameras, but no, that doesn't absolve a player from looking to his own morality to judge whether he can live with cheating the opponent and indeed the game itself.

Clearly Suarez has the moral rectitude of one of them ground crickets I saw on David Attenborough's 'Africa' which eat baby birds from out of their nests, and if they fall to the ground and get injured in the process, the other crickets come along and cannibalise it.

Indeed, as one of the ground crickets said. "It's not our fault that the parent birds leave the nest unattended. You've got to take these opportunities when they come. As for the lad that fell on the ground, well you've got to gobble up chances like that haven't you?"

If I'm honest we've all tried to get away with one or two infringements in the past, but these days it's so arrantly embraced and, well, celebrated. It's even more of a shame when the biggest conmen are players like Suarez and Bale who are so outrageously gifted that they need not descend to such depths. It's worse still when the dupes of all this connivance, the officials, are lambasted from pillar to post for missing such things.

And it really is the bottom of the barrel when that apex of the football pyramid, Sir Alex Ferguson, slags every official in sight after they've made a perfectly justifiable decision.

Any road, I'm off to illegally claim that child benefit, dodge some tax and mug a granny. Look it's not my problem there's not enough policemen on the beat. Is it?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Robbo's Predictive Text

2013 can't be as exciting as 2012, although there are some reasons to be optimistic. So I've gazed into me crystal balls (it's a long story) and I foresee some moments of sporting wonder ahead of us.


At the Australian Open, Andy Murray's final against Novak Djokovic goes into a third day with the Serb eventually coming out on top when Murray falls asleep in the change-over.

Due to a horrible administrative error, Manchester City fail to sign David Villa. They purchase Aston Villa instead. 'Well' says Mancini, 'At least it was a  bit cheaper that way.'

Meanwhile Mancini continues to deny a training ground bust-up with Mario Balotelli. 'It was nothing', he insists, 'I'm like a father to him'. 'Yeah' agrees Balotelli 'And I hate my f**ing father.'

Theo Walcott stays at Arsenal after being offered an eight-year contract as a central striker. The recently sacked Alan Pardew tells him that the contract isn't worth the paper it was written on.


The Six Nations begins with England beating Scotland by six foreign players to five. They win the match too. Gavin Henson gets a recall to the Wales squad when it becomes clear that none of his countrymen have a clue where to find the best tanning salons in South Wales.

Phil The Power Taylor becomes the first winner of an indoor javelin gold at the Indoor Athletics Championships and tells the world he likes these new big darts.

Harry Redknapp's QPR astound again as they beat both Manchester City and United at home. He also manages to help out in the executive boxes when they run out of wine and bread ("Get some stones and a jug of water and I'll be up in a mo!") and he oversees Kieron Dyer as he picks up his bed and walks.

The Ivory Coast, led by Didier Drogba, win Africa's Cup of Nations. Mancini says the Toure brothers are selfish for playing so well and keeping Yaya away for so long. Mario Balotelli starts and finishes a game for the first time in six months. 'Now' Mancini smiles 'if I can get him to do the same in the first team we might be getting somewhere.'

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford with Real Madrid and is marked by Paul Scholes. It's not  a nice mark and Scholes receives his marching orders. (Well plodding orders these days). Real win 3-1 and England's Euro hopes rest on Arsenal....


.... English clubs are out of Europe at the last 16 stage as Arsenal fail to overturn their 5-1 deficit to Bayern after the first leg. Celtic remain however after they defeat Juventus. 'Can they make the whole way?' manager Lennon is asked. 'Why not?' replies the confident Ulsterman, 'Chelsea won it last year and they were shite.'

England's two away fixtures in the World Cup qualifiers garner four points. England sneak past a plucky San Marino 13-0. But Montenegro (population 680,000) terrorise the everchanging England back four (population 312 over the last five seasons) and only a late equaliser by Seb Coe salvages a point.

David Villa wins the League Cup. On his own.

The University Boat Race is obstructed by a great white mammal bobbing around near Putney Bridge, braying out unintelligible instructions. Mayor Boris Johnson is sccoped from the water and the race is re-run, with who-the-fuck-gives-a-shit beating the other ones.


Bubba Watson returns to the US Masters at Augusta as the defending champion only to discover that Donald Trump has sent a hairdressing sniper to remove his stupid hair. 'Only one man gets away with that sort of coiffure in this here country' announces the billionaire nutcase.

Blackburn Rovers finally appoint a new manager - and it's some bloke Shebby Singh met in a pub.
New boss Peter Reid insists that it was in a Costa Coffee Shop 'as far as I can remember'.

The Formula 1 season enters its third race with it all looking just as exciting as last year's championship. Really thrilling it is... whatever... yawwwwwn...


Manchester United win the Premier League for the four hundred and fifty-sodding-seventh time and Sir Alex Ferguson announces his retirement (HOORAY!) in 2020 (GROOOANNN!). Rafa Benitez watches his Chelsea team lift the FA Cup, nods in the direction of Roamn Abramovich, and gets his coat.

The Champions League final is won by Barcelona, who defeat exhuasted opponents 3-0. Lionel Messi caps an average season with his 93rd goal. Later, Barca players are accused of animal cruelty after it emerges that four of them took the club's pet Jack Russell out for a walk and never once gave the poor mutt a sniff of the frisbee.

England's rugger players are warned as to their behaviour as they set off for Australia as part of the Lions squad. Chris Ashton is sent home early after throwing a female dwarf into his fifth pint of beer.


In the opposite direction the Australian cricket team arrive. England are favourites after beating New Zealand despite being forced to bowl underarm in the third test. Shane Warne follows Mike Hussey into the TMS commentary box, only to be told it's not that sort of hussy. It looks like it's going to be a glorious Ashes series, particularly now the flood-waters have receded and some of the Test Match strips can be properly looked at.

The French Open final at Roland Garros goes into a fifth day. Nadal beats Djokovic on a technical knock-out.

Pacquiao and Mayweather finally get their long-awaited fight on. Dereck Chisora is ringside but only up until Round Three when he can't help himself and climbs through the ropes. He's joined there by David Haye and after squaring up to each other, Pacquiao clobbers them with simultaneous upper cuts. It is a great moment for British boxing.

The British and Irish Lions win the three-test series against Australia 2-1; Manu Tuilagi throws himself into Sydney Harbour and a lot of Sydney Harbour throws itself onto the shore.


 A month chockful of British sporting success.

Andy Murray beats Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. It rains throughout but Judy Murray clambers on to the top of Centre Court and sticks her size seven stilettos into the roof to stop it closing.

Ian Poulter wins the Open Championship after being hypnotised into believing it's the Ryder Cup.

Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins put their differences aside and win the Tour de France - on a tandem.

England's cricketers win the first two test matches, but whe Shane Warne reveals he's coming out of retirement, Ian Bell hides in the dressing-room and refuses to come out.

David Beckham announces that he's to play in the new Polar League. It's a great coup for Greenland's finest club, Nuuk United. He will join the other star signings Joey Barton and Nicolas Anelka in a strong looking team.


It's the World Athletics Championships in Moscow and Team GB - even now the phrase just sucks - is up against it. Jessica Ennis has a terrible heptathlon and cries a lot. Britain loves her even more.

Mo Farah gives up the Mo-Bot gesture as his daughters keep thinking he's inviting them to McDonalds and then get in a state when he offers them pasta and chicken with no sauce.

Usain Bolt beats Yohan Blake complete a 1-2 in the 100 and 200 metres finals and celebrate by going to play cricket for the West Indies one-day team. Bolt is out for a startling 31 runs off one ball (all run).

Alistair Cook completes his double hundred of the summer. It's a poor effort by Cook, who really should do better. Says Geoff Boycott. Some girlish toys are found left in the England dressing-room and Boycott suggests that England's cricketers are going soft. But it turns out it's just a lot of dollies that Monty Panesar dropped during the Test Match.


But wait I haven't mentioned the Formula 1 championship. Well it's absolutely thrilling stuff. I mean apart from the fact that all the races have been won by the bloke who gets to the first corner in the lead. And that all the interesting stuff happens in the pits. It's so exciting watching men change the tyres on a car isn't it? Vettel's winning by the way.

The football season has started off with a lot of intriguing transfer news. Arsenal have signed a five foot six inch midfielder with good feet and no engine. Stoke City sign an electric pylon to play centre forward (Sam Allardyce is livid). QPR, miraculously resurrected by Harry Redknapp hold a jumble sale in a church hall off the Goldhawk Road, and get £22.50 for Jose Bosingwa.

New Chelsea manager Pep Guardiola is under enormous pressure after his team win their first six matches without conceding a goal.

And newly-promoted Middlesbrough (ahem - did I forget to mention that heroic play-off victory at Wembley in May?) parade their last-minute captures. Gianluigi Buffon says he's looking forward to his first parmo; Didier Drogba is relishing  the challenge. And Lionel Messi says he's hardly had chance to draw breath - which is pretty much true of everyone who lives here.


Look I'll be honest. I can't even be bothered to look that far ahead. I mean we could all be so screwed by Georgie Osborne's Austerity budgets that the national sport will suddenly have become piggy-bank hammering. Ah no, I'm going to be positive...

But by December, England are well on their way to defending the Ashes, GB win the Rugby League World Cup, Mario Balotelli finds inner peace, Michael Owen finds a personality, David Moyes finds a trophy from somewhere, Nick Clegg finds his balls, Roy Hodgson finds a team, Sepp Blatter finds a P-45, members of the NRA are all backed into a concrete cell by and locked in there forever by 'a good man with a gun', and David Attenborough is told he's allowed to live forever so long as he never stops making television programmes.

Happy New Year and up, up, UP the BORO!!!