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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

England And Steve McClaren Give Until It Hurts

steve-mcclaren-arse.jpgHEADLINES such as “ENGLAND COST US £1BN”, “BLACK WEDNESDAY” and “DON’T BANK ON ENGLAND” have appeared in the slipstream of England’s departure from football’s European Championships.

McClaren’s branded umbrella would have been better served as a receptacle into which England fans could have tossed all manner of coins, milks bottle tops and razor blades to help the country muddle on.

And now, as the Sun reports, the players have realised that in losing to Croatia they have damaged the nation’s financial health. It is said that “football stars last night gave up their match fees from the disastrous Croatia game to help wounded troops — thanks to The Sun”.

Thanks to the Sun, Britain’s soldiers are now wondering how to spend £23,000.

Each player in the England squad was paid £1,000 by the FA for last Wednesday’s game. And the squad has selflessly donated the sum to the Sun’s Help For Heroes appeal.

What’s more, sacked manager Steve McClaren also pledged to make a donation out of his estimated £2.5million pay-off. Says McClaren, who has just bought a “SECOND” home in the Caribbean (Mail): “It’s a good cause and I am happy to help. I will definitely give some money.”

And David Beckham pulls off is Make Poverty History and Find Madeleine wristbands to make way for the Help For Heroes symbol. Says Becks: “I am incredibly grateful for the commitment and work our armed forces do for our country. I fully support the campaign.”

Great stuff. The average salary of a newly qualified soldier is £14,300 before tax – which means that thanks to England’s sub-standard footballers the UK can now afford almost two new soldiers, or one soldier and a reservist.

How proud and grateful the Army must be…

Picture: The Spine

Posted: 24th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comments (3)


Brolly Poor Show: Steve McClaren’s Plans Unfurl At The Lat

mcclaren-umbrella.jpgSTEVE McClaren has been sacked from his berth as England manager and the Mail chooses today of all days to announce: “Forget the winter woollies. Over the next few months, a stout umbrella and sturdy raincoat are going to be more useful”.

Readers will need little reminding that the umbrella is the favoured motif of the aforesaid McClaren. David Beckham has tattoos, Jose Mourinho his Matalan coat and Alex Ferguson his chewing gum.

McClaren has his umbrella.

McClaren was always going to need a prop if he was going to cut it in the white heat of football branding. And at the death McClaren pulled out the umbrella, that most quintessential English device.

Had England only managed to hang on for a mighty draw, McClaren would have developed his brand, appearing with a Bob the Builder umbrella whenever blooded a young player, a see-through umbrella for every England goal and a golf umbrella when he and the team were at camp.

But ultimately it was too little too late.

McClaren now rests his parasol on his dry shoulders and walks off into the Caribbean sunset. And Umbrellas R Us seeks a knew ambassador…

Posted: 23rd, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comments (2)


The Knee Jerk: Ebbsfleet United Owners Pick The Next England Manager

ebbsfleet.jpgTHE Knee Jerk: Ebbsfleet United Owners Pick The Next England Manager. From the secretary’s desk by the chairpersons’ office:

DAILY EXPRESS
“FA WANT JOSE” – Get Jose Mourinho on the phone
“Mourinho now the No1 target” – Got him yet?

DAILY MIRROR
“COUNT ME OUT” – Cancel meeting with Martin O’Neill
“RAFA: COUNT ME IN” – Get Rafa Benitiz for brunch
“Capello: I’ve been tapped up” – Tell Benitez to wait. Fabio Capello’s already got the job
“BRING ON THE SPECIAL ONE” – Send Matalan catalogue to Mr Mourinho’s home…and £50-worth of vouchers

DAILY STAR
“S-MART MOVE. FA wants O’Neill as the man to replace Mac” – Did you cancel with Martin O’Neill. Don’t!

THE SUN
“PEOPLE’S CHOICE” – The fans wants Mourinho. Get Mourinho – it’s what the fans want
“THE FA’S CHOICE” – Martin O’Neill’s a shoo-in. Book lunch with O’Neill
“GET S-MART” – It’s now dinner with O’Neill
“CAPELLO: YES, I’M UP FOR IT” – Tell Capello to hold on a moment
“I’D LOVE THE JOB – HARRY” – Can we do a deal with Harry Redknapp – discount for weekends off, that sort of thing?
“KLIN THE FRAME” – Jurgen Klinsman lives in LA – he can watch Beckham train. Give him a call

THE MAIL
“Count me out. O’Neill rejects the chance to replace McClaren in hot-seta” – Tell Martin O’Meill we’ll call him back later. Cancel table

THE TIMES
“O’Neill rules himself out of running as search for hero begins” – Eeney, meeney, myneey…

DAILY TELEGRAPH
“Momentum builds behind O’Neill” – Book another table for next Friday

GUARDIAN
“O’Neill installed as favourite but Capello first to show willing” – Organise a race – quickest one over 100 yards gets the job

“O’Neill and Mourinho are favourites” – Ip, dip, sky blue, who’s it not you, not…

Posted: 23rd, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


Headline Writers Celebrate England Defeat

beckham-mcclaren.jpgENGLAND have lost to Croatia on a wet night in Wembley. The fans will not be getting themselves acquainted with plastic chairs, inflatable Lancaster bombers and banking at next summer’s European Championship in Switzerland and Austria.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Steve McClaren is surely on his way out. David Beckham can stop trying to run. And the headline writers are having some fun:

DAILY SPORT:

“YOU MAC US SICK – Cro-ing, Cro-ing gone as England blow it”

“HEAVEN ALP US!”

THE TIMES:

“McClaren’s Wembley washout”

DAILY TELEGRAPH:

“Unqualified failure”

DAILY MAIL:

“A wally with a brolly”

THE GUARDIAN:

“Hopeless, hapless, helpless”

DAILY STAR:

“OUT YOU CRO”

DAILY EXPRESS:

“HUMILIATION FOR STEVE’S SHOWER”

“It’s over and out for McClaren”

“You’re a muddy disgrace Mac”

DAILY MIRROR: “I’LL GET ME CROAT”
“FIASCRO”

“CRO, NO! CRO, NO! CRO, YES! CRO, YES! CRO, NO!” – The goals go in
THE SUN:

“RAIN OVER”

“WE STINK. IT’S ALL OVER”

“CRO JOB TO NO JOB”

Picture: The Spine 

Posted: 22nd, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (6)


Head Of Croatian FA Arrested At Airport

steve-mcclaren.jpgMORE Croatia-England news in the Sun where the head of Croatia’s Football Association has been spotted at Gatwick Airport.

“Tubby” Zorislav Srebic, a general secretary of the country’s FA, is at a ranch of WH Smith’s allegedly squirreling pens and paper into his flight bag.

A police source confirms: “We had a call from WH Smith at Gatwick to say staff had caught an elderly, chubby man pinching pens and paper. We went there and arrested him.”

If guilty, we can only speculate on the reason for this crime. And note that Steve McClaren, manger of what is called Team England, is fond of using pens to make notes, and paper to make them on.

Remove the pens – neutralise the threat…

Posted: 21st, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


Serbian War Criminal Ratko Maldic Invited To England V Croatia

mladic_ratko1.jpgIN readiness for tonight’s England v Croatia football match, the Daily Sport invites readers to cut out and wear a picture of Ratko Maldic, Serbian war criminal, “fugitive and man accused of genocide”.

The Serbian government had announced a bounty of €1m (£700,000) for Mladic, and jingoistic England fans are encouraged to wear the paper face with caution.

It should also not go unmentioned that in the Star’s 10 Facts on Croatia, number 7 says that the country’s fans were “once offered tickets for a big international match in exchange for making blood donations”.

The recipe for upset is evident. We advise England fans to resist all urge for say “For the good of Greater Serbia!” and instead blend in with the “enemy” by joining the Coats in cries of “We Want Beckham!”, “No World Wars And One Semi-Final” and “Steve McClaren Is Doing A Wonderful Job”…

Posted: 21st, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (6)


The Knee Jerk: Picking The England Team The Ebbsfleet United Way

subbuteo_family.jpgEBBSFLEET United FC has been bought by net nerds. They will play fantasy football with real people – tinkering with their livelihoods and their careers – by picking the team and the tactics via online polls.

The club’s new owners won’t see all the games, all the training sessions. But they can read the match reports. And make their judgements.

In light of that, today Anorak introduces its Knee Jerk Column, where we give an instant reaction to how the modern fan responds to headlines:

GUARDIAN: “[Paul] Robinson fails to impress in training” – And in games against Croatia, Russia, Germany. Dropped

INDEPENDENT: “Croatia unafraid of England except for boot of Beckham” – Play Beckham as lone striker

INDEPENDENT: “Wenger urges McClaren to pack midfield” – Play a 0-10-1 formation

THE TIMES: “Carson back in the frame after crisis of confidence for Robinson” – Pick Carson

DAILY STAR: “I’LL END IT LIKE BECKS – Peter Crouch wants to do a Beckham, who famously scored in the final minute to secure a vital draw with Greece – Crouch to take all free kicks

DAILY MAIL: “Becks’ appeal waning” – Drop Beckham

“BECKS GIVES ME HEAD START – Crouch has the jump on rivals if Mac picks David” – Pick Beckham and Crouch up front

Posted: 20th, November 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)


Wag The Player: Abbey Clancy Best It For England

peter_crouch.JPGIT’S not often the world of football encroaches on the life of a Wag but when called upon the girls can step up to be counted.

This is England’s hour of need, and with official shopping trips to Switzerland and Austria at stake next summer, Abbey Clancy wants to ensure her footballer does not let a nation down.

“I’ll inspire my Crouchie to score,” says Abbey Clancy from a position of defiance on the Star’s cover page. The vow is given added weight and direction within the paper as Abbey says: “I’ll help my Crouchie score for England.”

Ms Clancy promises to make Peter Crouch, England footballer, “ready, willing and able” for England.

This is, of course, part of a fully functioning Wag-footballer relationship. Not too long ago, Crouchy approached the serving hatch on Marco Pirre White’s Hell’s Kitchen and gave his lover the come on in the celebrity cooking arena.

Sadly, Crouchy failed to inspire his lover’s hunger for cooking and her fish pie lost out to Barry McGuigan’s potato. Now Abbey wants to cheer her lover on.

But she has learnt much from the experience. And we expect from Abbey much chest beating and cries of “We went to Barbados last year you useless string of spaghetti!”

Posted: 19th, November 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment (1)


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?”

Pic 

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…

PICTURE: CAPTION IT…

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)