Friday, 25 May 2012

Football And Smoke On The Water

It is not every day that you see a red football floating gently down the River Wear. Someone must have been a little over-enthusiastic with their kicking. An imaginary Didier Drogba on the towpath. A Carlos Aguero scoring Manchester City's championship winner, or more likely a local hero like  Pappis Cisse, Demba Ba or Stephane Sessegnon.

I thought, as I watched the ball bobble gently in the green water that it was symbolic of a frantic and exciting  football season floating gently off into the horizon for the traditional summer break. Great. It is nice to have that lull to concentrate on other sports.

But not this year.

There is no let up. There's Euro 2012, followed by football at the Olympics which will clash with the start of the next season. No doubt, when there is a spare weekend, they will find some Arctic Cup match in Greenland to screen.

Didn't you just love it when life was simple? Football started with the Charity Shield and ended with the FA Cup and made way for Cricket. Horseracing; the flat began with the Lincoln Handicap in March and ended in November. Jumping had a two month break in the summer when the ground was baked,

Now the 'money men', as the media like to call them, seem to have hijacked sport cramming everything into everywhere. More sport means more money - for sure. The television rites and betting revenue are large. But more sport does not mean good sport. In fact most of it is despicably bad, dummed down but talked up by overpaid commentators and pundits.

Bring back the old days?

No that's unrealistic and life moves on. Bring back the characters, though. The Alan Lambs and Bothams, the Cassius Clays, the Frank Brunos. Anything to improve on the current crop of serious sportsmen and women, who seem in the main humourless and dull.

My favourite was Shirley Strong, who admitted having the odd cigarette or two after a race. An amazing achievement which did not stop her taking Silver in the 100 metres hurdles at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

As I was going through my collection of ephemera which I have stored in various cupboards, it was amusing to see who was one of the main sponsors at the 1986 Mexico World Cup .....      

....a cigarette company.

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