rage Issue 5 - Sports R'UK
Mike Bracken looks at some of the more important things in life. Forget the latest bands we want football where's Spurs going to end up at the end of the season, and will United sell any more players ? have they got any left to sell ? We also take a look at Rugby in the third and concluding part of our Rugby where do we go now ? And on a lighter note does football really have the worst programmes all do all sports have them ?
Football`That Bergkamp bloke, `e's awright, but Gullit, `is knees are gone mate, and £8.5 million for Collymore, I'd draw the curtains if he was playing in our back yard...' If this sort of bloke in the pub footie chat is getting on your nerves, don't forget how annoying the amnesiac experts who write our broadsheets can be. Mike Bracken commits their pre-season expertise to memory.
In a game riddled with truisms and cliches, there is one that doesn't crop up often. It is very rare that anyone involved in football is heard to say: `Everyone is entitled to an opinion.' Indeed, I can only remember it being said once recently, and that was by Terry Venables when asked whether he agreed with one of Jimmy Hill's more idiotic comments. Roughly translated, it meant that `Jimmy is a moron, but as I'm the England manager, I can't really comment.'
In a week when Alan Sugar has had a customary whinge about Klinsmann, and shortly after Joe Kinnear has again been hauled in front of an FA committee for comparing an official to another well known German with European aims (Adolf Hitler), the degree of opinionated comment has never been more obvious. But why is there so little ambivalence about other peoples comments when it comes to football?
It all depends where you are standing, or, more recently, sitting. If you are Robert Chase, Ron Noades, Ken Bates or Doug Ellis, you can easily disregard other peoples comments because, well, you own your own club and everyone else can just go and find their own ball to play with. If you are a manager, then your job depends on your analysis of the game, and a fair degree of bullishness can be expected. Only poor results, a lack of any sort of diplomacy bordering on the criminal, or a combination of both can lead to that extremely hefty golden handshake. Just ask Mike Walker.
And if you are a fan these days, and by that I mean you pay someone apart from Sky TV to watch the game, then you deserve a slice of know it all opinion, because you support the game as well as your own team, so if you want to fire offa piece of venom about the footballing merits of Ray Parlour, then go on. To be fair, if you've paid money to watch Arsenal, you really need to get it off your chest.
In reality, there are only two types of people involved in football who should not be able to proffer their wisdom without being hauled over the coals. The first are the officials, because if they start handing out cards because they don't like a particular player, the game quickly becomes a farce. Just watch the next time David Elleray or Philip Don referee a match. The other group have only one reason why they shouldn't be allowed to get away with vitriolic comment, and that's because they get paid for it. As an unpaid contributor, I can point the finger: come in the Fourth Estate, your half time is up!
It's not the TV pundits who need to be reviewed, as their gaffes are immediate and long remembered. Trevor Brooking may get away with blandness, while Andy Gray can just shout with a Scottish accent ( a sure way to success, ask Souness), but it is the print media who get away with murder and get paid for it most often. So, purely as a public service, let's put these sages wisdom down for posterity, and have a quick look at who can really read the game.
As the tabloid press have consistently shown as much prescience as an average goldfish, there is little to gain by highlighting their predictions. Indeed, given their prediliction for getting sacked, it's very unlikely that any of the tabloid hacks will be around to face the music come next May. It's the highbrow condescension of the broadsheet critics that needs examining. If you wonder why I feel so strongly why these soccer snake oil merchants should be monitored, just consider their salaries. One regional sport reporter for a national, whose job it is to cover just 3 clubs, earned £55,000 per year, and that was three years ago. I can't name him, because he'll kill me or sue me. But the fact that I've got to be in work tomorrow still riles.
First up, The Independent. With its self proclaimed virtue and iconoclasm reeking from every page, there is more reason than most to cast aspersions on any claims coming from this veritable organ. The predictions are unsigned, but as the Football correspondent is Ian Ridley, and he's actually been paid for a 2,000 or so word rant about Eric Cantona and Eric Ferguson, he can take the blame. As champions, he opts for Newcatle, with Liverpool, Arsenal, Blackburn and Man Utd making up the top 5. It's early days, but leaving Leeds out of the automatic UEFA placings seems a little silly and forgetful, but Bolton and Man City appear sensible choices for the drop after only 4 games played.
The equally condescending Guardian has nominated David Lacey as their resident expert. The Guardian's football coverage is strikingly hypocritical. Essentially, their view of football is `anything modern is no good....it wasn't like that in my day....if only we played like the Italians.....pass the scotch' For such a scathing editorial staff, the choces are remarkably austere. The Toon Army to win, followed by the Arse, Liverpool, Leeds and Blackburn. Again, Bolton and Man City to go down are the popular choices, but nominating Wimbledon to finish 18th highlights the pious `true football' ethos that runs through the Grauniad sports section.
The Sunday Times plump for Liverpool, followed by Newcastle, Blackburn, United and, don't laugh, Everton. With drunken Duncan facing a 2 month stretch after his lates operation, and Joe Royle only just learning how to spell Amokachi, this prediction really is surprising. Unlike the relegation candidates, Middlesboro' and Bolton. Villa to take the trapdoor spot looks a little rash as well. Patrick Barclays choices in the Observer were lucky enough to be splashed all over the centre pages, but given the Observers circulation, its unlikely that anyone read them, let alone remember them in 9 months. Newcastle, Liverpool, Arsenal United and Blacburn make familiar reading.
Of any other relevant offerings, only FourFourTwo put forward their predictions. In a glossy colour supplement, entitled `The Biggest Season Preview in the World', this is the choice most likely to be remebered as it makes such a handty door wedge/placemat For what it's worth, they choose Liverpool for the honours, with West Ham holding Boltons hand on the way to oblivion. No criticism though, because no other magazine bothered to put their heads on the block.
A simple points system will operate here. If they predict the correct position, then they get 5 points. Any other prediction means that the number of places away from the original prediction is taken away from the final score. Expect plenty of minus placings, and should Bolton finish in the top 10, then mass resignations should be in order.
It's like that bloke in the pub saying `them experts - they don't know nuffink'
Don't say you weren't told.
Culled from the Guardian Indy 4-4-2 Observer and SunTimes
G I 4 O ST
Aston Villa 13 7 6 12 17
Arsenal 2 3 9 3 6
Blackburn 5 4 4 4 3
Bolton 20 20 20 20 20
Chelsea 7 11 10 10 10
Coventry 14 13 16 15 15
Everton 11 8 7 7 5
Leeds 5 6 5 6 7
Liverpool 3 2 1 2 1
Man City 19 19 13 19 16
Man Utd 6 5 2 5 4
Mids'boro' 15 15 14 9 19
Newcastle 1 1 3 1 2
Forest 9 9 8 8 8
QPR 12 14 17 14 13
Sheff Wed 8 10 11 11 11
S'oton 17 18 15 18 14
Spurs 10 12 12 13 9
West Ham 16 17 19 16 18
Wimbledon 18 16 18 17 12
Rugby part three
An occasional series where we rip the p**** out of official programmes. If you thought your local teams A4 photocopy was bad take a look at some of the other one's around
As regular rage readers will know, the subtly titled `programme watch' has already cast its critical eye over football and tennis programmes, but this is the one you've all been waiting for....The Cartier International Polo Match. For those fortunate to miss the action, we recommend you buy the programme and try not to drop your bacon sandwich...
The Cartier Polo International
Guards Polo Club
Windsor Great Park
July 23 1995
Cost: free on entry, a bargain at £15 per car
Rating: *****(for no other reason than its extraordinary smugness)
Polo is one of those `typically English' games that rely on foreign players and that we are notoriously poor at playing. Like Real Tennis, Ice Skating and Synchronised swimming, this magazine refuses to recognise Polo as a proper sport, but just for a good laugh, we had to include this overpriced tat in programme watch.
This programme could generate enough copy for a PhD, it is so riddled with the goings on of the self important, moneyed classes that it should be buried in a time capsule for posterity. It paints a picture of mid-90's England that no-one outside this incestuous club could recognise. To give you an all too brief example, lets have a quick look at the contributors:
Plum Sykes - she studied history at Oxford and now writes for Vogue. This is her raison d'etre for writing in this programme. I really wish that Millwall FC would adopt this policy. I can just see it - `Hugh Ligan - following a 4 stretch in Wandsworth, Hugh graduated to the ICF before taking up a crime development course at Southwark Poly." What Plums CV is effectively saying is - she's one of us, has taste, and really knows a nice cushy number from Cartier when she sees one.
The Earl of March - pictured in manly, Gillette pose, the Earl is writing about how to arrive in style, which, if were honest, is not too difficult if you're the president of the British Association of Racing Cars. To my knowledge, the polo field is not even within walking distance of a bus routs, so if you think the top deck of the 327 bus is arriving in style, you'd better start looking for a cheap Bugatti.
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson - This is beyond comment, so I'll just quote verbatim. "A regular contributor to numerous high profile publications when not on the ski slopes of Klosters or riding on her farm in Hampshire, TPP's increasingly dominant public profile has made its presence felt in the pages of this years Cartier magazine." Same world, different planet.
If the contributors aren't unreal enough, then their contributions certainly are. Because Polo needs spectators to tread the grass down at half time, readers of this tattle are encouraged by Gemma Spencer to become `well heeled'. So what should todays fashion conscious young socialite get to trod down divots, a £550 pair of brown crocodile slingbacks by Ralph Lauren.
The programme does have some explanation of the game, so if you want to know whats pukka with the chukka, then it's all here. To be honest though, it was the `Hello' style pictures page that killed off Rage's last vestiges of belief. After pictures of Queenie with the world famous Mr Arnaud Bamberger, Mr Howard Hipwood riding his pony, which we are assured is a horse, and a sickeningly trite portrait of Jilly Cooper and Ronald Ferguson, we had to go and have a lie down and a couple of tablets.
When American satirist Tom Lehrer was asked why he had given up his polemical career, he said that when Henry Kissinger received a Nobel peace prize for bombing Cambodia, he just couldn't make jokes anymore. When I found out that Cartier will not be sponsoring the Polo anymore because it has gone too downmarket, I felt the same sense of bewilderment.
Never again will a non-sport be covered in Programme Watch!! (oh I don't know I enjoyed that let's do synchronized swimming next - Ed)
***** daddy's got a polo pony!!
**** daddy's got a seat in the House of Lords!!
*** daddy's got a title!!
** daddy's got a farm!!
* daddy's got a Porsche!! (with apologies to Emma Thompson)
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