Back pages | Anorak - Part 60

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Premier League news. Stories from the newspapers and BBC sport – sports news from tabloids Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian, Daily Mirror, the times, daily telegraph

Gemma Atkinson’s Gets A Lift

“BUSTY Gemma Atkinson certainly knows how to take wild sex to a different level,” says the news of the World in “Gemma Atkinson in balcony romp”.

“Then another level, and then another…”

Karl Benion chooses today to tell us how “jungle-hot Gemma” gave him the “elevator ride” of his life followed by “SPANKING romps on a balcony” during a “steamy” two-month fling.

Readers will have noted use of the world “elevator”, an Americanism that does nothing to detract from the story, in fact it might even add a soupcon of added exoticism to the spicy tableau.

Karl was on holiday in Majorca, “when the ex-Hollyoaks star pounced” (that’s Gemma).

Says Karl, (“grins”): “We’d been out clubbing and were in the lift on our way back to my apartment when she suddenly went wild and started ripping my clothes off. She was wearing very little herself. I ended up with one hand jammed against the ‘stop’ button between floors…and the other was, well, quite full!”

Our working knowledge of lifts would have Karl beginning at the Ground floor, or the G Spot as he would have it. He then works his way up to the H Spot, I Spot and J Spot before reaching the penthouse.

Gemma and Karl are no longer together. And she’s now back with Charlton Athletic striker Bent, a team in the second floor of English football…

Posted: 18th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment

Smart Money: Get The Wayne Rooney Look At Asda

tuxedotshirt.jpgYESTERDAY, we reported upon the Sun’s bizarre attempt to portray Wayne Rooney as a “toff”. (He drinks wine and is taking two GCSEs, you see.) To help us grasp the concept, the paper helpfully mocked up a picture of the wealthy young autodidact sporting a top hat and monocle.

But how are we non-toffs supposed to emulate the new Rooney look? More easily than you might think. For a mere 35 quid, in fact.

We’re not talking about a replica United shirt either (that’ll set you back £39.99). No, we are talking Asda dinner suits. Or to be more precise, the “George at Asda” dinner suit.

Who’s that then, George the Hoffmeister bear? Do you get a pork pie hat thrown in?

Well no, but the Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander does warn purchasers not to stand under too strong a light, as “the polyester viscose fabric does tend to shine”. She also adds that there’s no need to worry if the waiter spills soup down the front, or you “fall into the gutter on your way home”.

She admits that the jacket is fully lined and the finishing is good, but doesn’t shed any light on the detail that concerns us most. Asda ads feature a series of satisfied customers patting their back pockets, which jingle with the pennies that they have saved at the famously value-for-money supermarket.

So where is the well-dressed Asda customer to stuff the hundreds of pounds saved on tailoring without ruining the line of this extraordinary new wipe-down suit?

Posted: 15th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment

Two GCSEs Wayne: Manchester Utd’s Rooney Mugs Up On English And Maths

red-card-rooney.jpgANOTHER day, another attempt to squeeze a cheap laugh out of the mighty Wayne Rooney.

The Sun sports a picture of the Man United star wearing a top hat and monocle. Have a guess why.

No, it’s not a plug for a forthcoming ad in which Rooney plays Fred Astaire.

It’s a mocked-up picture to illustrate the story that Wayne is studying for GCSEs in English and maths, and is also learning to play the guitar.

It’s apparently all connected to Alex Ferguson’s suggestion that he do something constructive with his spare time. The guitar is supposed to help him control his temper (well it worked for Pete Townshend, Sid Vicious, Keith Richards and the rest – they hardly ever hit fans with their guitars). Ferguson himself learned the piano in an attempt to quell his fiery character, but fortunately he wasn’t able to lift it high enough to throw it at anyone.

Rooney’s new-found interest in learning is surely to be praised. Yet the Sun’s attitude is strangely sniffy. Wayne, it says, is “going all intellectual”. It is “the latest proof that Manchester United and England striker Rooney, 22, is turning into a bit of a TOFF.”

OK, let’s get this straight. He’s wearing a monocle because he’s a toff. And he’s a toff because he’s studying for two GCSEs.

No, we still don’t get it. Can you help, readers?

Posted: 14th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comments (3)

Fayne Wayne: Rooney Knows Fine Wines

wayne_rooney.jpg“MANCHESTER United ace Wayne Rooney really is a vintage pro,” chortles the Sun.

How so? Has he given up the glamour of football and opted for the “oldest profession”. Of course not, he’s happy to leave that sort of thing to the experts.

No, he has become a wine connoisseur. The England striker “lists a bottle of Sauvignon blanc among as his top tipple and has been eagerly building up his own cellar”.

Furthermore, he has been taking advice from manager Alex Ferguson, who, the paper reminds us, is “an expert on fine wines”.

The Sun finds this all very amusing, on the grounds that multi-millionaires like Rooney should stick to lager top and leave the fine wines to thirsty hacks with expense accounts.

But in their haste to ridicule the young tippler, they seem to have missed a trick.

On the following page, the paper reports that Prince Harry has been “talking through his love life problems” with a friend, and has been seen arriving at said address “with a bottle of wine twice this week”.

The address in question is the flat of his old pal Mark Dyer. To which we say: what better cover for a secret tryst with a like-minded soul with a weakness for the finer things in life?

Remember, you read it first on Anorak.

Posted: 12th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment

World Skills Olympics Guarantee London Success

CLEANER, Eco-Friendlier, Cocknier! The London 21-12 Olympic stadium fits the Olympic ideals. And it will be ready in time.

As the UK’s 2007 World Skills Olympic team jets off to Japan – 48 nations compete in 40 different categories, including stonemasonry, bricklaying and painting and decorating – we read in the Independent that the Games will be in London for 2011.

And where will they be staged? No contest…

Pic: Beau Bo D’Or 

Posted: 9th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets | Comments (10)

In The Playground With Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho

JOSE Mourinho, former Chelsea manager, has grabbed a 12-year-old boy’s hair. A teacher at Palmela School, Portugal, sees Jose Mourinho grab the child’s arm.

“Mourinho ‘reduced a boy of 12 to tears over playground taunts’,” says the Mail. Mourinho’s 11-year-old daughter tells him of a boy who says her dad is not “the best”. Mourinho is upset. He pulls the boys ears.

“Mourinho, scrapped with lad aged 12,” says the Sun, leaving readers unsure if billing the incident with flyweight Pedro Farrim as a fight looks better or worse for the 44-year-old.

“Mourinho attack on schoolkid for saying you’re not so special,” says the Mirror.

Says Mourinho: “I’m a special one”, “It’s not fair”, “The best team lost”, “I want to give my congratulations to them because they won. But we were the best team. We didn’t lose the game.”

Shhh! Quiet time. Fingers on lips…

Posted: 9th, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (6)

London Olympics 2012: Blancmange All Round

DISAPPOINTMENT for we versed in sporting ceremonies that Seb Coe chose to unveil the London 2012 Olympic Stadium without holding the hand of a small child or wearing stilts.

Not even a dinner of roast beef and three types of vegetables, as Lord Coe, chairman of the Olympic committee, forwent the chance to host the unveiling ceremony at a gala night out in London’s Dorchester Hotel.

Instead, Coe stood in a tent on the spot where the 100 metres will be run and showed us the $500million stadium, with its 80,000 seats.

“It’s a bowl of blancmange,” says the Times Marcus Binney. It’s not. It’s four bowls of blancmange, or tiers, interlaced with the cream of international sport. It is the Telegraph’s “flat-pack” vision for 2012.

The Sun notes that the perimeter of this edifice to sporting glory is 941 yards – “the length of 72 London buses parked nose to tail”. It’s like Oxford Street, only in the round.

And it is reusable. There are 55,000 temporary seats, which will be sold off after the event to anyone who wants some plastic furniture.

The entire venue will be enshrined in a mosaic fabric “wrap”, depicting athletes and flags. The Times says the mesh “could be cut up and made into memorabilia bags after the event”.

And after 17 days, the stadium will be used by someone else. Who? The Times says options include a school, a “skills academy”, a football or rugby club in winter and an athletics club in the summer.

Or a new home for the Millennium Dome…

Pic: Beau Bo D’Or 

Posted: 8th, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Paula Radcliffe Starts The Mum’s Race

SO long as the mum’s race at Isla’s school sports day lasts 26 miles plus, Paula Radcliffe should walk it.

Radcliffe is the Mirror’s “Wonderwoman”, carrying on when she has every chance of winning, and not crying like a bay when things are not going her way.

Says blonde Paula: “I felt stronger after my pregnancy.”

And Radcliffe’s “amazed” gynaecologist wants other mums to be just like Paula. The running mum says her doctor was worried about running during pregnancy, “But after Isla was born she said ‘I’m going to tell all my mums to run and exercise through their pregnancy”.

Anorak has yet to learn the name of Radcliffe’ medic, but as soon as we do we will post it here and so ensure women in the family way can best avoid her…

Celebrity mum Katie Holmes (brunette) finished the New York marathon in 5 hours, 29 minutes and 58 seconds!

Pic: Hack

Posted: 6th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comments (2)

Steve McClaren Traces David Beckham

HAVING plumped for the professionals over the celebrity side Hollywood United Football Club – so much for the selection headache – David Beckham pulls on his socks with some urgency.

With England coach Steve McClaren watching form the stands amid 5,543 fans at the Home Depot Center, Beckham scores two goals and has three “assists” (USA Today) in a 12-4 rout of Antony LaPaglia’s Hollywood United.

Indeed, that is the same Athony LaPaglaia, who stars in TV’s Without A Trace, the show that finds missing people.

“It’s probably the best I’ve felt in quite a few months now,” says Beckham, who made Def Leppard guitarist Viv Campbell look pedestrian. “It was important for me to get a good workout tonight. I’ve been working hard trying to get myself fit.”

Hollywood FC’s players were too out of breath to talk. Although one team member, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Paul Henry from Crossroads, lifted his short over his head to reveal the message: “Come on McClaren – Pick ME?”


Posted: 5th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Celebrities | Comment (1)

Joe Calzage: Now For the Big One

“WAY to go, Joe,” says Zoe, 25, from London, “you’ve made us all proud.” Zoe uses her Page 3 speech bubble to enlarge upon her support for boxer Joe Calzaghe: “He must be a cert for Sports Personality of the Year now.” An audience with Gerry ‘The Executioner’ Lineker awaits…

Posted: 5th, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

Gemma Atkinson’s Ultimo Keepy-Uppy Challenge

SUCH is the power of football that a player’s endorsement all but guarantees the success of any product in the marketplace. Who can forget the Bobby Charlton Shampoo Gel, the Glenn Hoddle Aura of Jesus Nightlight and Victoria Beckham?

Now the News of the World reveals that Gemma Atkinson is the new face of Ultimo bras. To illustrate, Gemma is pictured wearing a bra, believed to from the company’s range, and in a nod to her multi-talent, a pair of knickers to boot.
As the headline trills: “FOOTIE WAG Gemma Atkinson shows off keepy uppy skills.”

But can Ms Atkinson still be a Wag now that she is no longer dating Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo? And add to the polemic, the issue that Gemma’s bra might not be needed given that her chest is already sponsored by Messer Nip ‘n’ Tuck?

Gemma’s keepy uppy may be less wonderful than on first appearance, akin to a keeping a balloon aloft in a hurricane.

But it will be a success. And lower league footballers are believed to be eyeing the ensemble with some interest…

Posted: 4th, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)

Martina Hingis Supports New York Marathon Joggers

NEWS that Martina Hingis, the Swiss Miss tennis sensation of yesteryear, has tested positive for cocaine comes before the Times’ news of marathon runners in New York.

Runners have been banned from listening to musical devices while running. Out are iPods and Walkmans. Also out are Old Mr Anorak’s plans – he had intended to run with an oversized stacking system perched on his shoulder. Had he only been running for charity, we would tremble at the fall out.

But there is whiff of defiance among the sweat and liniment. “I am going to wear mine,” says one runner. “I have never run without headphones,” says another. “It just helps me.”

Clear evidence that headphones are performance enhancing. The joggers will either have to resort to more conventional and dare it go unsaid professional forms of athletic support (drugs, steroids and lying) or else develop a real or imagined drugs history and tell all and sundry about the mental time they had.

In Anorak’s experience, stories of drug-induced larks last many hours and the race will fly by. (See Pete Doherty’s London Marahton-Bender 2006-2007.)

Alternatively, joggers could invite Mss Hingis along as a running partner and invite her to explain her innocence in three hours 50 minutes or less…


Posted: 2nd, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Lewis Hamilton Is DWB In Switzerland

SAYS Lewis Hamilton: “I’ve decided to move to Switzerland. You really struggle to live a normal life…You come home and everyone knows you, it makes it much harder to do normal things. I go to the bathroom at a petrol station and people come in there for autographs.”

Of course, not everyone recognises Lewis Hamilton, hence the police pulling him over on suspicion of committing the crime DWB (Driving While Black).

Let’s hope the Swiss are equally non-star stuck.

Indeed, with the right-wing Swiss People’s Party the biggest group in the country’s parliament, scooping nearly 29 per cent of the vote after an election campaign that focused on its leader figure, Christoph Blocher, and an initiative to expel the “black sheep” in Swiss society, Hamilton should be treated just like any other foreigner…

Posted: 30th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Wags World Chat Courts Controversy

IS it a case of once a Wag always a Wag as the Star reports that Sky TV’s new WAGs World Chat show is to feature Danielle Lloyd?

Danielle, currently between footballers, is strictly not a Wag. She is a veteran wag, and may care to appear in a punditry capacity, sat in a studio around a back-lit table offering on-cue opinions of what the Wags still playing are up to.

And would it be advisable to feature some Wags of old, such as Bobby Moore’s widow and Auld Salpper, Wayne Rooney’s Wag for hire to give the show more credibility and historical context?

The show promises much controversy…

Posted: 29th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Prince Harry Touches Down And Drops Shorts

A FEW days since Paris and people are still talking about the big game. “Rugby…” they say. “What rugby?”

The Telegraph looks on as the England team up their game and the team’s Matt Stevens has his shorts pulled down.

“Wear jogging bottoms and T-shirts, the players looked cheerful and relaxed after touching down,” says the paper. Heathrow Airport staff on duty at the time cheer. The duty cameraman takes a picture.

But will it be enough? Will we all be doing “The Matt”? Will the lads secure contracts to appear in TV adverts, laughing loud as Matt loses his shorts in a pizza chain; Matt drops his shorts in Curry’s; Matt drops Anorak’s new range of Comfi Shortz to his knees in the offices of a debt consolidation company’s call centre?

And where does Prince Harry, that Jonny Wilkinson among men, figure in rugby’s marketing drive? There’s Harry Baseball Cap leaving the England plane, his eponymous hat pulled down over his patriotic hair and skin tones.

Did he pull down Matt’s shorts? And will we in pubs and clubs be doing “The Harry?”

Posted: 23rd, October 2007 | In: Back pages, Royal Family | Comments (5)

Rugby World Cup Final: Prince Harry’s Hard Yards

“THE final heartbreak,” says the Observer’s cover. “England’s World Cup dream left in tatters,” echoes the Express.

And the Sunday Times leads with “Brave England battle to battling Boks”. And courageous Wales.

There on the cover page of that paper is the picture that tells the story. They went. They gave it their all. But Princes Harry and Prince William could not make it through. Sure, they put in the hard yards, made sacrifices – getting to Paris would mean forgoing a soiree at Boujis. But it was for nought.

Reactions to defeat:

“They did fantastically well getting into the final – but in days to come, they’ll reflect on what they’ve done and be really proud of themselves” – England coach and royalist Brian Ashton

“You can’t fault the effort, can’t fault the heart. Such a shame when all the heart and spirit counts for nothing…Immensely disappointing” – England flanker and Mahiki Club guest pass holder Martin Corry

“So proud of all the guys who have supported us” – Jonny Wilkinson speaks on behalf of the Princes

“It’s a fuc*in’ conspiracy ” – Mohamed al Fayed on that disallowed try

More to follow…

Posted: 21st, October 2007 | In: Back pages, Royal Family | Comments (7)

Rugby World Cup: Remembering South Africa’s Spitting Image

THE Times is a paper of record, it says here. And in light of the Rugby World Cup final it remembers the Spitting Image television show and the song “Never met a nice South African”. “The Mary Whitehouse brigade were up in arms but Spitting Image fans lapped it up,” says the paper.

Fans often do like what they are fans of. It is well noted. “The politics are certainly out of the Ark – and in no small way offensive – but this is comedy from another era. It’s interesting to think that this would never get onto mainstream telly these days.”

The Times does not broadcast the song because it is prejudiced. It does so to educate, to lift the lid on a cultural artifact and shine an enlightened light within. We see the dark days and we shudder.

As such, it carris a health warning. As the paper notes: “Anyone easily offended should give this a miss but otherwise sit back and let us know what you think of this coarse but classic comedy…”

What does the song, and its repitition in the Times, say about the English?

As Les Sharp, Hersham, Surrey, puts it in his letter to the Telegraph: “Sir – I support any England team or competitor, but I am having doubts over today’s game. How insufferable the rugby fans would be if England won, especially after Wednesday’s football.”

Posted: 20th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)

A Kingdom For Jonny Wilkinson: Prince Harry Expects

NO news of Prince Harry’s preparations for the Rugby World Cup final but the Mirror fills the void with a shot of Jonny Wilkinson stood atop a plinth.

The Fourth Plinth is located in the north-west corner of Trafalgar Square, opposite the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. The Fourth Plinth project tells us: “It was originally designed by Sir Charles Barry and built in 1841 to display an equestrian statue. There were insufficient funds to create such a statue and so the plinth remained empty.”

Instead of an effigy of Red Rum, Quick Draw McGraw or, more likely, a military leader on a charger, we have Jonny Wilkinson, a vision in wax. But the mood is ever warlike and jingoistic in Trafalgar. As the Mirror announces: “ENGLAND EXPECTS that every man will do his booty.”

Given the changing nature of the English language, doing your booty takes on an savoury tone that Anorak will not dwell upon, saving it for the post-match showers with the lads.

Before that, England need to win. “GO JONNY GO AND WIN IT,” commands the Express’ cover page. Big Brother’s Chanelle Hayes wears patriotic England knickers on the Star cover. And the Times leads with Wilkinson reading a paper and the headline “Buddha and me”. Or to put things in order of godliness on this auspicious day, Me and Buddha.

Says that paper’s Simon Barnes: “Jonny kicks knowing that if he fails, he has failed everybody”.

For He is the blessed one…

Your Captions Welcome…

Posted: 20th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

McLaren’s Mules, Cook’s Chockers And Rugby Balls

STEVE McClaren pays the penalty for England’s defeat to Russia by having his face morphed in a rugby ball on the Sun’s front page.

This is “MAC’S ENGLAND DISASTER”. We should “KICK HIM INTO TOUCH.” Why can’t England’s XI be more like the rugby XV, playing two or three great games every four years with qualification to the World Cup guaranteed?

“Now rugby gods must lift nation,” says the Sun’s front page. “HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?”

There is the complex answer, one that takes in grassroots football, the popularity of the game beyond former British colonies, a Moscow pitch made from carpet removed from Lada Zhiguli’s. (And a penalty given outside the box – see picture.)

And there is the simple answer: Steve McLaren. “MAC UNDER ATTACK FOR OUR EURO FLOP,” says the Sun. He is to blame for “41 YEARS OF HURT”.

The Sun recalls English losers past: Bobby Robson’s “clots” (who went to lose the semi-final of the World Cup in cruel fashion), Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ (do mention the war), “turnip Graham Taylor’s vegetables and Kevin Keegan’s “mob”.

Losers to a man.

And now we’ve got “MOSCOW MULES” (Mirror). McClaren’s Muppets.
Rugby fans may recall Geoff Cook’s Chockers (1991) and Jack Rowell’s Rabbits. But, as the rugby mad Star says on its front page (“FREE Topless Lucy rugby poster inside”)

“OK, we lost the footie but..Come on England! Let’s smack the Springboks.”

All together: “Three points on the board, Jonny’s still gleaming…”

Pic: The Spine

Posted: 18th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

After Ronaldo Gemma Atkinson Moves Onto A Semi

GEMMA Atkinson has been dating Manchester United footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. But no more. It is the Sun’s sad duty to tell one and all that the Wag-tastic romance is at an end. “I did go out with Cristiano Ronaldo,” says Gemma, “but it all ended when he was caught shagging prostitutes.”


Says Gemma: “And now I’m seeing someone else, who is semi-famous.” Good to know talented Gemma has moved on and is not bitter about prostitutes…

Posted: 17th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (13)

Rugby World Cup: Kenny Rogers Buy Me A Rose

IT’S the game everyone’s talking about. No, not England v Estonia. It’s the Rugby World Cup, and Kenny Rogers is cheering on the boys in white with red flashing, a red swoosh and an advert for a mobile phone company.

“There’s a fight song for you,” says Rogers in the Telegraph. He’s wearing the replica England kit. “You have got to love my shirt. I am so excited for you guys. I understand that was a real big win for you guys over [checks notes] Australia.” He adds: “If you guys can’t beat those French bastards then it is a waste of time for us all.”

There is a reason for Rogers’ enthusiasm. And it’s not just that the French are bastards. It is that England have taken to playing and giving full throat to Rogers’ The Gambler in the dressing room.

As Kenny says: “You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.”

Got to know when to stick your finger in their orifices, gouge their eyes and smash the Estonian scum into the ground in time for England’s match against (who was it again, Kenny?)… Oh yes, the French bastards…

Posted: 12th, October 2007 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets | Comments (4)

Jose Mourinho: Grab Your Coat, You’ve Pulled Sting

I CLOSE my eyes (I close my eyes) and stand there grinning (Ooo-ooo)… I can’t stop winning…any bed will do…

It’s Jose Mourinho. Grab your coat, you’ve pulled. And if, as the Sun reports on its front page, you’re called Elsa Sousa, you’d best grab an overnight bag and a change of kit. As the papers reports: “JOSE’S SECRET AFFAIR – he cheated on wife for two years.”

Can this be true? This is Jose who called his son Jose Junior, who married Matilde, who called their daughter Matilde. They are the embodiment of Mourinho’s desire for two champions in every position. This is a youth policy based on replacements for each of the star players.

But now he upsets the unity by introducing a play maker, his “stunning blonde mistress”. He calls her “princess”. She is his special one.

As the papers say, Mourinho and Ms Sousa try out new formations. It is experimental. As a source says: “They did very naughty things together. Mourinho is a very sexual man. He particularly likes making love to Sting.”

Sensation upon sensation. Sting is not here to respond to such wild claims, and for now we stick with Sousa.

The report says Mourinho and Sousa played around while he was manager of Porto. He met her while coaching the small town club Leiria, and, as is the way with new signings, when he went to a bigger club, he took his favourite with him.

“Yes, yes, it is all true,” says Sousa to the Sun. And you can read about it in a book Sousa has written, which she is touting to publishers.

And what is more, Sousa says it was she who chose Porto over Benfica. “Having to choose one of the great rivals, he put the decision in the hands of Elsa, asking her where she would like to live.” She chose Porto. “Mourinho turned FC Porto into the club it is today.”

And we consider what role Sting had in Chelsea’s rise to prominence…

Posted: 12th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (10)

Backpages Quote Of The Day: Arsenal

EMMANUEL Adebayor (Arsenal) on Robin van Persie (Arsenal): “He likes the ball at his feet and he has the technical skills. I am tall, I can climb high and go deep”

Posted: 9th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

Rugby World Cup Tries But Football Wins

THE Rugby World Cup is stirring passions. And many are enjoying it because it is not football.

Of course, rugby fans refer to players as being “good footballers”, a notion backed up by the site of “footballing” players lamping the ball high and handsome into space in the manner of any number of Bolton Wanderers’ soccerists.

But rugby union is not football. The fans say it is better. As Mick Hume notes in the Times, rugby fans are a breed apart, laughing it up as an oikish soccer player heads a ball ruby man’s dog has pissed on. This is “England’s real passion”, says the Land Rover advert which features this vignette. Laughing at people and toilet humour is indeed the English way.

But rugby is not football. For one thing, there are no oiks. Rugby players are men. Rugby players are not thugs on banning orders.

But there is hope that one day rugby can be every bit as popular as soccer. As the Guardian reports, almost 900 New Zealand fans have responded to a website dedicated to English referee Wayne Barnes. (Yes, Wayne, as in Wayne Rooney.)

The Kiwis are upset that Barnes failed to spot a forward pass that led to the country’s defeat to the French.

A correspondent writes: “I hope he dies in a car fire.” Says another rugger fan: “We should put him a lion’s den…with no clothes on..then get a top sniper and sniper him on the head.” Another adds that if he ever see Barnes in New Zealand he will “poke his eyeballs out”.

Good effort boys. And one day rugby may be as exciting as football. But little steps. Let’s not get carried away…

Posted: 9th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Jermian Defoe’s Incredible Hulk

WOULD-BE Wag Rachel Cameron has news from Jermain Defoe’s sock drawer. The girl, with whom the Sport says the Spurs striker has been two-timing fiancee Charlotte Meares, says her footballer calls his penis “The Hulk”.

Says Rachel, described as 30D: “It looked like a Neopolitan ice cream. He’s got a very unusual skin pigmentation down there.”

But not as unconventional as Rachel’s cones…

Posted: 8th, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (41)