I don’t follow football, I support Preston North End. Boom Boom. I know I’ve used that before but it is true to say that I’m not really all that bothered about the beautiful game anymore. Mind, having said that I still felt strangely attracted to the World Cup draw for the 2018 event in Russia and I wasn’t disappointed. No, it wasn’t the leggy Soviet beauties on show, or the irony of Diego’s ‘hand of God’ placing England in such an easy group but seeing me ol’ mucker (we once shared a barber’s chair dontchaknow), Gary Lineker, betraying everything I thought he held dear.
And just to show you that cycling doesn’t have the over-competitive streak all to itself, recent revelations have rocked the usually discreet world of vowels, consonants and blanks. Yes, the dark side of competitive scrabble has raised its head and Allan Simmons, National Scrabble Championship winner, has received a three-year ban for cheating!
I’ve commented in the past about Team Sky TUE (therapeutic use exemptions) debacle and Sir Bradley of Wiggo’s supposed asthma condition and was intrigued to see if the Beeb’s documentary ‘Britain’s Cycling Superheroes: What Price Success?’ was going to shed any more light on the murky subject. And do you know what, it did, but not perhaps in the way British Cycling wanted it to.
Notwithstanding that within only a generation the digital revolution has transformed society beyond anyone’s prediction, I’m delighted to report that, to me at least, sport remains true to its old staples of kicking a ball of various size and shape either between two sticks, over two sticks or hitting it into a small hole and over a boundary rope with said stick. So, it was with some alarm that, along with other insomniacs, my eyes were half-opened early this morning to a world I truly did not know existed: eSports.
To my mind, many of today’s sporting events appear over-planned, over-organised and often over before they start. Everyone’s competing to the bleep of their fit-bit, to their coach’s advice in their ear, to their nutritional plan of the last six months or to the rigged scam of the betting syndicate in the east. So, when something out of the ordinary happens, I must confess, I rather delight in it.
In many facets of life, beer has a lot to answer for. For me personally, an over-indulgence in the amber nectar has accounted for most of my long-distance escapades. Mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that once ‘signed-up’ a life of sober abstinence and training then takes over in attempt to get through the task in some semblance of reasonable shape. And of course you’d be wrong.
Ben Stokes, the bad boy of English cricket is not an idiot. Ben Stokes, the man’s man of willow & leather is not a have-a-go hero. Ben Stokes, the hard-living embodiment of Beefy Botham is a thug and a criminal. With a rap-sheet that includes spending a night in the cells, a six-month driving ban and a formal on-the-record caution for obstructing the police, slugger Stokes went one better in the damning video of last week’s street brawl and was rightly arrested on the suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.
I realise an early morning rant probably isn’t the best way to start your day but has there ever been a less likeable blonde hottie than Maria Sharapova? Following her recent dismissive remarks regarding her fellow players who dared consider her to be any less white than the knickers she so fabulously flaunts, I read an interview with her and have to say she’s probably the most deluded, ugly sportsperson I’ve ever come across. Why, she even makes the bully of the peloton and king of all dopers, Lance Armstrong, appear a thoroughly well-balanced, easy-going chap who you’d love to have a cold-one with. As it transpires, the only cold-one Maria would give you would be a cold-shoulder.
Yes, we love and idolise our sporting heroes but for every whiter-than-white Jessica Ennis Hill and holier than thou Chris Hoy, there’s a bad-boy waiting in the wings for us to silently root for. I’m thinking of the likes of original madman Ty Cobb who hated everyone and spared not even his own teammates the pointy-ends of his sharpened spikes; of Iron Mike Tyson who prior to his rebirth as a loveable and funny-ish former athlete had the completely justified reputation as the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ both inside and outside the ring; Let’s not forget figure skater, Tonya Harding, who put the hit out on Nancy Kerrigan before the 1994 US Championships: Or our very own Sir Wiggo of Bradley now forever TUE-tainted.
T’other day, whilst out on a cycle ride, I was fortunate enough to see three buzzards angrily protecting their territory from one another. What they didn’t know was that a much larger Red Kite was about a hundred feet above them, ready to take on the victor! The reason I mention this is that usually when out with the boys I see nothing but someone’s lycra-clad a*se and their rear wheel. More often than not these are testosterone fuelled, scalp-searching, lung-busting endeavours where distance, ascent and pace all play an equal part, with the holy grail being a three hour, twenty-average, hilly sixty miler.