Hero of the Week: Me. For scoring my first goal since June, 1998. The last one was a thing of beauty: far post header off a high cross, down and inside the post. Kinda like the one Mike Burns had been burned on a week earlier against Germany in World Cup’98. This most recent effort was not so spectacular, but still opportunistic: The keeper came out to play our right forward, who shot a slow roller to the far post. The ball would have gone wide for a goal kick, but your Hero of the Week was running on to that same post from his left midfield position and calmly tapped the ball in. (There is no truth to the rumor that Charlie Stillinajob is in talks with my agent about me joining the RotMasters.)
Bilic down for the count? Injury looks set to force the retirement of defender Slaven Bilic. Bilic has only made a handful of appearances for Everton since signing from West Ham two years ago. The Croat international’s long-standing hip injury is apparently not due to the vicious hit he took from France defender Laurent Blanc at World Cup ’98. Bilic has been healthy enough to play for Croatia in recent Euro 2000 qualifiers, and Everton have been trying to offload him, so whether it is just another case of Bilic cheating (you see, Blanc didn’t really hit him) or a true threat, is open to speculation such as we have just done. But if the injury is real, then it is a shame really, because it couldn’t happen to a nicer fellow. Despite Bilic’s recent claim that he would not be pushed around (TotW 990911), it looks he will get pushed around, even if it is in a wheelchair.
Keeping up with the McTavishes: Imbecility is breaking out all over Britain, as the English — eager not to let the Scots get one up on them — have joined the banned bandwagon. It seems London’s famed cabbies have been warned not to display St. George’s flags, lest they incite Scots in town for the Euro 2000 playoff, or risk having their valuable license revoked. The English would be better served banning the inbred German impostors currently occupying the throne, then reinstalling the rightful heirs … who are Scottish? *gasp* You don’t say …
Nobility sell Venetian crystal and keepers: Like most modern minor nobility, Lord Manchester Alex Ferguson has fallen on hard times. Perhaps the tell-all isn’t selling as briskly as planned; perhaps Sotheby’s refused to auction off flailing Massimo Taibi. So a benefit match was held recently for Lord Manchester. To his service rode Eric the Great and other knights errant, there to do glorious battle with the serfs currently in Lord Manchester’s villeinage. The ancient warriors ruled the heath on the day, 4:2. Yet Eric the Great was only able to last 15 minutes, and failed to reappear at all after the break. (Let us hope Lady Cantona receives better service.) Apparently the exertions were so great that a few days later Lord Manchester was forced to field a squad of squires and pages versus Aston Villa in the Worthington Cup. The joust did not go as planned, and Villa throughly trounced United 0:3. Luckily the losers are no longer sold into Syrian slavery. The quest for the Holy Grail — the World Club Cup — marches onward … with a twit following along, making cloppy horse noises by knocking coconuts together.
Odessa spirits Villa manager off to Paraguay: Aston Villa manager John Gregory, whose underachieving side currently languish in 8th place, behind such giant-killers as Everton and newly-promoted Sunderland, recently blamed his squad’s Cantona-like lack of performance on poor officiating: “I personally think referees should be wired up to a couple of electrodes and they should be allowed to make three mistakes before you run 50,000 volts through their genitals.” I dare say Mr. Gregory’s charges commit more errors in a match, even those in which they are trouncing the treble winners. Yet I have not heard mention that Villa players ought to be tortured, like mediocre Iraqi teams are by Uday, Saddam Hussein’s pride & joy. Perhaps it is enought that Villa supporters are being tortured by the squads Mr. Gregory flushes out onto the Villa Park pitch? What really got Gregory’s gall was that Villa had just lost a 1:2 decision to the aforementioned Sunderland, who in fact show every sign of not only staying up, but indeed of advancing to Europe in their promotion year, while all Villa have to look forward to is playing a bunch of pub-crawling geezers like Eric Cantona in the 88th round of the Worthless Cup. Besides Gregory, many senior figures within the English game, including players’ union chief Gordon Taylor and former national team manager Graham Taylor, have expressed ALARM! about the number of cards dished out. No alarm, you understand, at their country’s recent rancid performances. (Perhaps Gregory’s system is already in place for coaches, as England have been managed by a succession of eunuchs.) Leave it to Chelsea’s (Italian) Gianluca Vialli, who these days seems to be the only Premier League manager not talking total bollocks on a regular basis, to provide some common sense: He said people should stop complaining about referees and get on with the game. Indeed.
Rich kids can learn from true hard men
By Jeff Powell, ESPN
The moment Steve Smith, the former Ireland hooker, punched All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick, he knew he had committed an error not far short of suicidal. As a gush of blood washed four teeth from his mouth, Fitzpatrick neither screamed with pain nor shouted at the referee. He merely fixed his assailant with a long, slow, pitying smile.
‘Terrifying,’ is still Smith’s word for a reaction true to the creed by which New Zealand have always played their rugby.
Not that Smith has ever revealed in what form retribution was exacted. Whatever the punishment, he took it without complaint. That, too, is the nature of a game which will find heroic expression once again at Twickenham this afternoon.
Some 30 or more All Blacks and white-shirted Englishmen will thunder into each other in honour of a sporting discipline which home hooker Richard Cockerill describes simply as ‘war’.
Meanwhile, England’s other footballers – those of the round rather than oval persuasion – will spend their Saturday afternoon in the cowering hope that a bunch of Swedes can save them from burial alongside Graham Taylor’s old turnips.
Then, in Sunderland tomorrow, they will play Belgium. Although this is a goodwill game against one of the Euro 2000 host nations, it is depressingly unlikely that we will be spared the cringing spectacle of young millionaires pulling at each other’s shirts like girls tugging hair and squealing for the dismissal of any opponent who comes near them.
England’s soccer now needs to stand up to comparison with a game in which the only spitting is that required for the removal of broken molars from busted jaws.
As for rugby, it needs to listen when another giant from the southern hemisphere, Australia’s David Campese, warns against the disciplinary scrutineers of slow-motion cameras ‘turning my game into netball’.
Both soccer and rugby should be games for real men who must be allowed to test each other’s will and courage free from microscopic interference by television.
With a smile – and no complaints.
Quote of the Week: “What is the world coming to when you get a red card and get fined two weeks’ wages for calling a grown man a wanker?” (Paul Gascoigne)
Seven Dirty Words for British Footballers
(with apologies to George Carlin)
- 7. Twat
- 6. Arse
- 5. Poofter
- 4. Your Royal Highness
- 3. Referee
- 2. Wanker
- 1. Winner
Turd of the Week
Qualified candidates please apply.