Anorak News | The Entertainers

The Entertainers

by | 24th, September 2003

‘WE are indebted to Susan Mellor, whose letter to the Independent has caught our eye.

Ben Johnson, seconds before he was knocked to the ground by Martin Keown

Among the miles of words written about how Arsenal are the pariahs of the entire planet (it being the team supported by Osama bin Laden, Frank Bruno and Prince Harry), Ms Mellor makes the point that most fans “rather enjoy incidents like this”.

She is, of course, right, although it’s not just supporters who like a good on-field bust-up – journalists like it too and, alongside Ms Mellor’s letter, the Indy’s James Lawton bangs on about the need to get tough on they who transgress football’s gilded laws.

There can be little doubt that Arsenal’s fans, as a group, are far from appalled by their team’s behaviour.

Did United’s legions swoon in horror when Cantona flew into the Crystal Palace crowd? Think hard before answering. Think of Andy D’Urso recoiling from the Red Devils…

From sportsmanship, gamesmanship, call it what you will, to outright, stone-cold cheating, as the Times shares a cup of something interesting with Ben Johnson.

Those who recall the men’s 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics will recall the name of Johnson with ease. He was, after all, the one who produced the most blistering run of all time.

Shame that it was aided with pharmaceutical rocket fuel.

But enough of us, let’s listen to Johnson. “Regardless of what I did, I am still the best sprinter of all time. Most people loved the entertainment and know the game.”

As for ‘knowing’ the game, we suppose Johnson refers to the nature of athletics, a sport which has, apparently, too often turned a blind eye to the competitors’ use of banned substances.

As for the entertainment, we must offer a wry smile. Like the Arsenal-United fracas, Johnson has given us all much to talk about. Of all the runs in history, his is the one scorched on the memory.

And so it is in a way with Frank Bruno. He was never undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, but he did give us a night to remember when he was beaten up by Mike Tyson.

We cheered as a nation that night. We knew he was most likely going to lose but we hoped that some luck would see him win the day.

Now, as the Guardian says, Bruno is fighting with himself. We wish him well. And thank him for giving us all so much to talk about…’

Posted: 24th, September 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink