Apart from his inability to ever witness any misdemeanour committed by his players and even though he masterminded our exit from this year’s FA Cup competition, I’ve always thought Arsene Wenger a decent enough gentleman. Measured, loyal, intelligent and diligent, he’s obviously done a sterling job for Arsenal but it’s time for him to bow-out with grace and dignity. Crashing-out of the Champions League last week 10-2 on aggregate against Bayern Munich was a shocker and surely signals the end for the manager.
In a mo, I’m off to play a squash match. Something I do several times a week. I’ll dig out some old kit, check my racquets & grips, fill my water bottle with a strange home-made concoction of orange, Ribena & salt and hop on my trusty two-wheeled steed. Unfortunately, my well-practiced pre-match preparation won’t leave any time for stretching and the post-match warm-down will involve pride only. London Pride. Tonight’s opponent is Saffer-Kyle and it should be a good match: he’s way younger than me, fitter and, following promotion last month, is playing at his highest-ever level. One of us is on the rise and it isn’t the ginga midget.
Two bitterly opposed combatants. Their rivalry played out in front of a huge television audience. An outcome too close to call. Both wealthy beyond the imagination of their followers. Winning is all that matters. One cool, calm & collected. The other rattled, emotional and shooting from the hip. One claiming the system is rigged against him and that even his own team are sabotaging his campaign. The other silently taking the moral high-ground. The underdog, snubbing one press conference after another and resorting to social media to make his ‘disrespected’ point. Perhaps the elderly Bernie holds the key?
In answer to the TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemptions) revelations of the last couple of weeks, Sir Bradley deemed to give journalist pal, William Fothergill, an ‘access-all-areas’ interview in this weekend’s Guardian. By all means do have a read if you’re interested on finding out more concerning the grey areas of drug use professional teams operate within, but I suspect, like me, you’ll be left a tad nonplussed by his range of reasons and excuses.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a scathing piece condemning the state-sponsored approach towards systematic doping taken by the Russian Olympics & Paralympics Federations and contrasting it with that of our own. Broadly speaking, my argument was based upon our two very different, but somehow strangely similar, approaches to the quest for international sporting recognition: ours was to spank the cash, there’s was to inject the dope. However, as it’s recently transpired, perhaps our two systems are even more similar than I alluded to.
Whilst waiting for the swimming pool to open, my conspiracy-theorist pal asked whether I had seen the helmet-cam-cycling footage of future national-treasure, Jeremy Vine? Obviously, not being part of today’s social media revolution I hadn’t, so he very kindly downloaded it onto his picture-phone. WTF.
At the risk of incurring the wrath of the great-unwashed, I have to admit the Olympics leave me a little cold. As a lifetime sports participant it frustrates me that precious little funding appears to filter down to either the young or those involved at grass-roots level, and believe me, I’ve tried & tried to unlock some of that national cash, but to no avail. Admittedly, it probably doesn’t help my mood that, as a squash player, our Olympic involvement has been poo-pooed by all manner of ‘sports’ including beach volleyball, Greco wrestling and wall-climbing.
As a cyclist of sorts, doping scandals and the institutionalised acceptance of the bleedin’ obvious are nothing new to me. Yet even the actions of old disgraces pale into virtual insignificance beside the recent revelations of Russia’s state-sanctioned doping programme. Yes, we all knew that many of its athletes, across many sports, had illegally enhanced their performances but to find out the true extent of cheating is nothing short of mind-boggling: between 2012 and 2015, Russian sports officials covered up, or interfered with, 312 positive drugs tests in 28 different sports.
Dark storm clouds are gathering. Rain peppers the window panes of South-West London. A mood of despondency & resignation descends upon the nation. Forecasts predict gloom for the foreseeable, and it’s universally predicted economic-output is immediately going to fall. It can only mean one thing. The fall-out from the shocking Brexit decision? Nah, don’t be silly, it’s Wimbledon again and time for us all to go the tennis equivalent of snooker-loopy!
At the time of conception the idea seemed perfectly feasible and relatively sane – to cycle from Whitehaven on the west coast (the Irish Sea) to Whitley Bay on the east coast (the North Sea), a distance of approximately 160 miles in three days. Broadly speaking, the first day would take in the Lake District, the second would see off the Pennines and the third the North York’s Moors/Northumberland. Game on. Ah, but doesn’t that go over some hilly ground? Beer has soooo much to answer for.