Back pages | Anorak - Part 61

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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

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)

Steven Gerrard Was Here

“BIG-HEARTED” Stevie Gerrard is holding up a shirt with his own name write large in gold lettering on the back.

Chances are that 10-year-old Jamie Hellawell, will never forget whose car he collided with. But in case the memory is too painful, or schoolmates disbelieving, he can look at his shirt and deal with any latent issues.

“Thanks, Steve,” says Jamie. “These are amazing. Thanks.”

To go with the shirt, Gerrard has given Jamie a pair of signed football boots. They are white with flashes of read, and should help Jamie be seen as he crosses the road on dark winter nights.

“Steve Gs up hurt lad,” says the Sun, looking in as Gerrard is photographed with the injured Manchester United supporter.

It’s one for the family album, alright, something for Jamie to look back on with pride in years to come.

We may never know what occurred that fateful afternoon. And if Jamie was hit by the car, hit the car or affected simulation.
But we can see how caring Steven Gerrard is as he tends to the boy. And smiles for the cameras…

Posted: 3rd, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Alisher Usmanov’s Past Revealed

ALISHER Usmanov has made the step from the blogs to the newspapers. (Pic: Beau Bo D’Or)

Many now know all about Usmanov’s past. For those unaware, the Mail notes that the Russian is a former “fencing champion”.

We might learn even more about the man who would own Arsenal. The Times’ Matt Dickinson says the English media sit down with Usmanov for the first time today. (The press pack are off to Moscow, or at least as many hack as you can fit on a Gulfstream jet are.)

But this is not the first time Usmanov has met with the English. As the Independent reports, the billionaire took along his wallet for talks with Liverpool and Spurs.

But he opted for Arsenal because he loves the team. And note that £120 million would have bought him a larger slice of Spurs than the 23 per cent stake it has secured in their rivals. (Two years ago Jo Lewis bought a controlling stake in Spurs for £100million.)

“Alisher loves Arsenal,” a source tells the Mirror. “It’s his club,” says the Sun’s source.
And, as the Express puts it: “Usmanov and Dein have not got a chance.”

Dein is, of course, David Dein who sold his stake in Arsenal to Usmanov and chairs the Russian’s Right and white Holdings group.

And it is he and not Usmanov who is the problem. As a source says: “David Dein is so loathed within the boardroom that the main shareholders there would not sell to him, no matter what, and they wouldn’t want anything to do with anyone connected to him.”

The paper’s Harry Harris (“On Tuesday”, for those unsure) says if pushed to sell, it is more likely the Arsenal board would sell to American Stan Kroenke.

His prowess with a blade is not known…

More here.

Posted: 2nd, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Steven Gerrard Come Or Comes A Cropper

SAYS England footballer Steven Gerrard: “The lad just came out of nowhere.”

We have heard Liverpudlian Gerrard speak on many occasions, and wonder if the actual spoken words went: “The lad just come out of nowhere”?

Whether the lad came out or come out, there must be some debate. But there is no escaping the awful fact that the lad, Jamie Halliwell, has been struck by Gerrard’s car. His leg and hip are “smashed”.

Gerrard is, understandably, upset. But is he at fault?

The Mirror’s front-page headline offers: “STEVIE G RUNS DOWN BOY, 10.” The boy is called Jamie Hellawell. He may or may not be related to Jamie Halliwell, Gerrard’s victim in the Sun.

A witness says “Gerrard’s car wasn’t going fast”. Another witness says: “Steven was driving very slowly when a young boy ran out and hit the side of his car.” And Gerrard’s testimony we have already heard.

But the Sun reminds its readers that Gerrard has a conviction for careless driving. It tells one and all that in 2004, “he was fined £1,000 and given five penalty points for driving without due care and attention”.

Has this any bearing on the matter? For reasons not immediately clear, the Sun says Gerrard owns a Bentley Continental an Aston Martin and a Jaguar. The Mirror says the Bentley is worth £175,000.

Let it be known that the Bentley is now damaged. Hwo much the repairs will cost is not said. But the other cars are good to go.

As is Gerrard…

Posted: 2nd, October 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

Real Love: Ashley Cole Left Arsenal And Joined Chelsea For Cheryl

CHELSEA FC are failing to win every game and Ashley Cole’s Wag Cheryl is in negotiations with the News Of The World. Can the two be linked?

Here’s Cheryl telling the world that it was not Ashley’s dream to move to Chelsea from Arsenal but to play for Real Madrid.

(To recap: In 2005, Chelsea and their manager Jose Mourinho were found guilty of illegally “tapping up” Arsenal defender Ashley Cole.

They broke Premier League rules forbidding rival clubs to approach a contracted player without permission from their employers.

Cole was found guilty of talking to Chelsea with a view to negotiating a transfer without approval from Arsenal.)

Says Cheryl: “Why should all my dreams and aspirations be shattered for the sake of his career? It would have meant that I’d have had to give up my career, which I wasn’t prepared to do.”

Cheryl is one part of the act Girls Aloud. The is very reason to believe that, given Ashley’s salary, Cheryl could have afforded to rent a small flat in the UK and, thanks to budget air travel, flown to Madrid for photo opportunities.

Cheryl tells us that “Ashley was offered a hell of a lot of money to go…the deal was there on the table”.

But the table, la mesa, was in Madrid.

She goes on: “I stopped him living his dream playing out there. It made things difficult. I’ve been through a s**t, horrible relationship before, so I refuse to argue with Ashley. I disagree with him, that’s human nature, but I won’t get into an abusive relationship again.

“So there was a lot of disagreement, and there were a lot of tears being shed. He has always told me never to talk about this, but I think people should know.”

Good that she does. And with Chelsea languishing in the Premier League table among the also-rans, and CAshley playing football that would make it a struggle for him to make the Arsenal team he was so desperate to leave, Cheryl speaks out.

“I almost begged Ashley to sign for Chelsea not really knowing what that would mean,” she says. “…But I didn’t realise the extent to which moving from Arsenal to Chelsea would cause so much hurt between the two of us, and to Arsenal fans… And for that I do apologise. He wouldn’t have got half as much s**t if he had gone there (to Madrid) rather than Chelsea. And I blame myself for a lot of that.

“Looking back, with all the different advice he was getting and me saying, ‘Don’t go abroad’, it must have been hard for him. He went through hell.”

“His eyes were dead until recently.”

So there you have it. It was never about money. It was never about greed and disloyalty. It was about love. As Cheryl says:

“I’ve never been the kind of girl who has to have the latest Chloé handbag. If I see a nice bag for £30, I’ll get it.”

The NOTW notes: “As she talks, she twiddles the giant diamond ring on her finger. How much is that worth?”

“That’s worth Ashley’s heart,” she smiles.

And we understand…

Posted: 30th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)

Alisher Usmanov Declares War And Wants Arsenal

alisher-usmanov-bloggerheads.jpgBLOGGERS’ pal Alisher Usmanov is closing in on Arsenal. In “GUNNERS RED OCTOBER”, Mirror readers learn that the Russian billionaire has increased his stake in the club to 22 per cent. (Pic: Beau Bo D’Or)

And he has “declared war on ‘slurs’ on his character’”.

As the Mirror puts it (“Red Al upping his raw stake”), Usmanov is upset at what he sees as an internet “smear campaign over his rise to prominence”.

A source close to Usmanov tells us: “Alisher is very angry at the rubbish and slurs that are being written and wants to explain the truth to Arsenal fans and the people in England.”

We humbly advise Usmanov to think twice before addressing the Gunners’ faithful over a blog. His words may not go down well with one and all.

And then good intentions can turn into a PR disaster.

See what can go wrong here and here.

Posted: 28th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Fat Chance: England Take On The Tongans In Rugby World Cup

wags.jpgENGLAND are taking on Tonga tonight in the Rugby World Cup. If England lose, they are out.

Last time the sides met in the game’s premier tournament was in 1999 when England won 101-10.

The Telegraph says that game is memorable for Isi Tapuelulu’s upending of England fullback Matt Perry. After a bit of fisticuffs, the Tongan was sent from the field.

The Mail seems to recall this. And bears a grudge, reduced to calling the Tongans “TEN-TON TONGANS!”. They are fat. Some 92 per cent of adult Tongans over 30 are clinically obese, says the Mail. This is a sporting fact repeated in the back pages in a sections entitled “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TONGA”.

The Mail doesn’t say if junk food is advertised on Tongan telly, only that the Tongans are fat. It is not to reason why. And to the Mail being fat is almost as bad as being as thin as a teenage model. (See our exclusive picture of the Tonga Wags.)

Boy are these Tongans fat. The Mail says the late King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was the world’s “heaviest” monarch. He weighed 33 stone. In 1981, when Diana married Charles (weight ungiven), the Tongan High Commissioner was driven round in a car bearing his massive bulk and the number plate “ITON”. The car was “reinforced”.

And they are cheats too. Fat cheats. As the Sun says: “OFFICIAL TONGA HAVE GOT AN EXTRA PLAYER.” The Sun speaks not of the “starved sea eagle” that devours the “foreigner and sojourner” (the Tongan haka is not without poetry) but of their fatness.

So fat are the Tongans that the forwards have an 11stone advantage over England. And that is akin to extra man, although not an extra Tongan man.

Such is the sports news. Can the svelte English put paid to the fat Tongans?

And if the fatties win, what doe sit man for Britain. Pass the nachos…

Posted: 28th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)

Alisher Usmanov: Russia Wins With Arsenal

SAYS Alisher Usmanov: “I consider this team to be the best in the world. But be reassured, the taxes from any Arsenal profit will in any case go to Russia.”

Reassured? It just keeps getting better.

But Usmanov is not profiting at the moment.

Earthquake Cove looks at the matter of his taking on Craig Murray from the position of his lawyers at Schillings:

Our client was a lardy foreign oligarch looking to take over a leading British football club. The former British Ambassador to his country had published allegations about him which he considered to be false and defamatory.

The solution
We put the frighteners on the former Ambassador’s webhost to such an extent that it shut down not only his blog, but also other high profile blogs which had nothing to do with it, including that of the Conservative candidate for London mayor, and others in elected office. The allegations then spread around the internet and the mainstream media like wildfire.

And as Schillings tell us, they are the best…

See it all here.

Posted: 27th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Alisher Usmanov: Arsenal Release The Hounds

arsenal_usmanov1.jpg“ARSENAL resist Uzbek suitor’s advances,” says the Guardian’s front page on Alisher Usmanov.

“He’s certainly not an open book,” says Peter–Hill Wood, the Arsenal chairman of the Uzbek who owns 21 per cent of the club.

“Business is murky in Uzbekistan that in itself is an argument against him being involved in Arsenal. I wouldn’t want him to be owner of the club.”

This echoes Hill-Wood’s comment on American billionaire Stan Kroenke, who bought 12.2 per cent of the club, of whom Hill-Wood said “we don’t need his money and we don’t want his sort”.

Arsenal is a club more akin to White’s than a Premiership outfit. Hill-Wood’s Arsenal lineage goes back three generations. The Eton, Coldstream Guards, Hambros investment bank graduate is joined around the boardroom table by the Wodehousian Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith, wife of Sir Charles Bracewell-Smith, the fourth baronet of Keighley, friend of Sir Chips Keswick, also involved with Arsenal’s upper echelons.

So they don’t want Silent Stan and Alsiher The Hun here, thank you, all the same. Release the hounds.

And in case they don’t get the message the first time, Hill-Wood’s words are repeated on the cover of the Guardian’s sports section. There readers learn that Usmanov was “convicted of offences reported to include fraud, corruption and theft of state property”. He served six years in prison.

As the paper notes, Usmanoz says the charges were politically motivated and the Government has since pardoned him.

As we know, this version of events has been challenged by Craig Murray. See his blog. Or not. At least not yet.

Schillings, the law firm working on behalf of Usmanov, said Murray’s words were defamatory and ordered his internet hosts Fasthosts to take it down. They complied.

Laura Tyler of Schillings makes no mention of this PR disaster – thanks to Schillings’ clever ploy we all know who Usmanov is and what he has and has not done – now says her firm does not intend to sue Murray because “they did not want to give him platform to express his views”.

Better to chop his site down and get everyone talking about him on another platform.

Posted: 26th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Alisher Usmanov: Channel 4 News And Craig Murray Says

ALISHER Usmanov is making news. As Moninksi notes, “If only Robert Maxwell were alive today!”

Says Craig Murray:

The key point is that I stand by what I said and stand ready to justify it in a British court of law, and to call lots of witnesses to help me. I have made completely clear to Schillings that I am not running away and am ready for the legal case.

Schillings however, rather than sue me, have threatened and intimidated others into closing down websites, without ever the truth or falsity of the facts about Usmanov being tested in court. That is a very dangerous precedent indeed.

Posted: 24th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Tzofit Grant Stars At Avram’s Chelsea: Give Me A Pee…

tzofit.jpgMORE problems for Chelsea fans as they read of Tzofit Grant, 42-year-old Wag to Avram Grant, new leader of the club’s blue and white army.

Is she “So Fit”, as doubtless the red-tops will label the woman the Times calls a “glamorous TV hostess”. Of “Zoff It”, as in that Andriy Shevchenko is not up with the game, he is “Zoff It”?

Much to discuss as the Chelsea faithful mull over the club’s new broom as they travel to Calais (rhymes with palace) and Milan (rhymes with Dylan).

And what to make of this woman who once quaffed a sample of her own urine on live telly? “It tastes,” says Tzofit Grant, “like water from the Dead Sea.” We can only deduce that she means salty, although her sample probably tastes less exotic, like the contents of the typical municipal swimming pool.

To the Mail, Tzofit is “THE WEIRD ONE”. As readers are told: “If you felt Nancy Dell’Olio was a bit much, brace yourself for the wife of Chelsea’s new boss. From taking a bath in chocolate to TV spankings (and very dubious drinks) she’s a WAG like no other…”

The Mail says Mrs Grant’s show is called Milkshake. (I’ll stick with the banana).) And produces a picture of Tzofit poised with a glass of what we presume to be urine.

She is taking the piss. Much like the Chelsea fans who ignored their new leader to herald his No 2 Steve Clarke with “Steve Clarke’s blue and white army”. Clarke is the last survivor from the Mourinho administration and may not last much longer if the fans continue to back him.

We learn that Tzofit’s elder brother has schizophrenia and “has even proclaimed himself the Messiah”. Anyone else think Roman Abramovich got the wrong man to follow Mourinho?

Indeed Abramovich may have been attracted to Grant because of his wife who has been known to sit in the stands and cheer on her manager husband with the words: “Make some substitutions now you bastard”.

Old-style Chelsea fans may at last have got someone they can relate to…

Posted: 24th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (8)

Jose Mourinho: Not In Front Of The Chelsea Mascot

shevchenko.jpg JOSE Mourinho. Not in front of the children.

What damage was caused to six-year-old “thrilled” Kai Need-Boreham can only be guessed at.

At an impressionable age, master Kai, Chelsea team mascot for the Blues’ Champions League game with Rosenbourg, may be changed by his experience.

True enough, he may have emerged from the tunnel and expecting to see the stands packed for the big match been shocked and amazed to see the Chelsea ground half empty. More shocked still to see his Chelsea heroes fail to win.

As is the way with young Chelsea fans, though, Kai may well find an Arsenal top in his Christmas gift pile, or one of Manchester Untied or Barcelona. He can recover.

But what of the row? As the Sun reports mascot Kai heard the “huge bust” between Mourinho and the team’s other mascot, Andriy Shevchenko, hours before the match.

Words are exchanged between the then manger and his most expensive player in an office. “Trembling” Kai is waiting outride. The door is flung open. And an “ashen –faced” Mourinho emerges.

Moments later Shevchenko leaves the room.

Kai’s mum, Tania, takes up the story. She says Kai went into the changing room to gather the team’s autographs. Shevchenko was missing. So he went to find the Ukrainian. And witnessed the row.

What was said? We know not. We can only guess. And wonder why young Kai has taken to referring to himself in the third person and is refusing to play football or indeed any game with anyone who fails to let him win…

Posted: 24th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Alisher Usmanov: Boris Johnson On Free Speech

mr_usmanov.jpgALISHER Usmanov is chucking his weight around. See here.

The Russian oligarch has bought into Arsenal football club.

The Times notes:

“With Mr Putin due to stand down as President in March, Mr Usmanov’s involvement with Arsenal may be an insurance policy against any unexpected downturn in relations with his successor as president.”

As you know. Boris Johnson’s blog is also down. Mr Johnson hit out at the closure of his website, calling it “a serious erosion of free speech”.

“This is London, not Uzbekistan,” says he.

“It is unbelievable that a website can be wiped out on the say-so of some tycoon.

“We live in a world where internet communication is increasingly vital, and this is a serious erosion of free speech.”

Pic: Matt Buck

Join the protest. The list so far. As with Justin, please add your blog to comments if you want to be included.

And then copy and paste the list to your blog.

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, noodle , kerching (195).

Posted: 23rd, September 2007 | In: Back pages, Politicians | Comments (2)

Jose Mourinho Gets His Coat And Pulls At Chelsea

jose_mourinho_001.jpgJOSE Mourinho is gone. Had his Chelsea team played in his image rather than at his direction they would have been terrific.

For large parts of Mourinho’s reign, Chelsea resembled an expensive gown worn beneath a Matalan coat.

Under 25,000 turned up to watch Jose’s boys play in the Champions League mid-week; many fans preferred to stay at home and watch reruns of the trains leaving and arriving at Newbury station on UKTV Gold.

And Mourinho’s image is important. This is the man who can be seen on the Mail’s front page cradling his son. The boy’s name? Yes, you guessed it: Jose Junior. And what odds Mourinho marrying a woman called Matilde and calling their daughter – here it comes – Matilde?

This is the man of whom Karen Brady, Birmingham City’s managing director, says: “Mourinho was sexiest boss in Premier League.”

Of whom Denise Van Outen says in the Sun: “I’m gutted about Jose, I always fancied him. He’s really sexy.”

Of whom the Independent’s football expert Jessica Callan writes: “Mourinho The Sex Symbol.”

Of whom the Mail’s Rosie Millard writes in “MY CRUSH OF THE DAY” that her dog is named after him. She thinks this is a big deal. This is nothing – Jose named his own son after him. Top that.

Millard tells us: “As with Princess Diana, it is impossible to take a bad picture of Mourinho.”

Can the same be said of Sir Alex Ferguson? Arsene Wenger? It is clear to Millard, who epitomises the new Chelsea fan base, who is the better manager.

What Millard does not say is if she went to see Chelsea play an actual game of football. Was she there earlier in the week?

Readers do, however, learn that her son adores Jose. Her son is seven. He has only ever seen Chelsea win. Now Jose has gone he and a million other impressionable boys in replica kits can follow their hero’s new team.

Or go back to supporting Arsenal and Manchester United.

All together now: “Avram Grant’s blue-and-white army . . .”

Sit, Avram. Sit!

Posted: 21st, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Bloggerheads, Craig Murray, Bob Piper And Boris Johnson Downed By Alisher Usmanov

usmanov.jpgAS Tim Ireland tells me, his Bloggerheads site, and sites operated by Craig Murray, Bob Piper and Boris Johnson have been downed by Alisher Usmanov. Tim suggests the Arsenal fans might like to take the matter up in song.

Who’s Usmanov?

As the Guardian writes:

Arsenal’s newest shareholder, the Uzbek minerals billionaire Alisher Usmanov, continues to police discussion of his past and of his intentions for the Gunners after paying £75m for David Dein’s 14.58% share in the club.

Schillings, the lawyers acting for Usmanov, have been in touch with several independent Arsenal supporters’ websites and blogs warning them to remove postings referring to allegations made against him by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan.


Usmanov was jailed under the old Soviet regime but says that he was a political prisoner who was then freed and granted a full pardon once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as president. Schillings have warned the websites that repetition of Murray’s allegations were regarded as “false, indefensible and grossly defamatory”.

DavidT at Harry’s Place:

Bloggers cannot operate if they are bullied by rich plaintiffs. Defamation law in the United Kingdom is both farcical and unfair, and is in desperate need of fundamental reform. Errors on blogs can easily be remedied: particularly where they permit open commenting (a libel risk in itself) which allows postings to be criticised, facts corrected, and arguments opposed. I know what it is like to be at the receiving end of a well funded threat of defamation proceedings, and it is no fun at all. It is outrageous that the law of defamation should be used to break bloggers: like butterflies upon wheels.

Mr Eugenides writes:

And let’s be clear on this point; these blogs are down not because Usmanov has been libelled, but because he says he’s been libelled, and has a room full of paid monkeys sitting at typewriters firing off theatening letters to that effect.

I don’t give a shit about this character, or Arsenal FC (no offence to any Gooners out there); nor do I share all or even most of Tim Ireland or Craig Murray’s politics. But that’s far from the point. If you can be silenced for calling a businessman a crook, then you can be silenced for calling a politician a crook, too. Then it’s everyone’s problem.

This one will run and run. No need to watch this space; there’ll be plenty of other bloggers stepping up on this one. Oh, and Arsenal fans; if you’re not convinced yet, think what this guy is going to do to your web discussions.

Dave Warner notes:

It appears Schillings has fallen victim to something our pals at Techdirt like to call “The Streisand Effect.” Back in 2003, Barbra Streisand sued a photographer in an attempt to remove an aerial photo of her California home from the Internet, despite the fact that the photo was part of a publicly funded coastline erosion study and wasn’t even labeled as her home. As a result, photos of her house were published all over the web within days.

[…] for all their claims that Murray is libeling their client, Schillings has not actually sued Murray for libel. They have told anyone who will listen that Murray’s book, Murder at Samarkand, is defamatory against Usmanov, but it’s been out for more than a year, and they have never taken any legal action against Murray. Instead, they seem more focused on getting any mention of Murray and his allegations against Usmanov removed from the web — and as the Streisand Effect teaches us, that’s pretty much impossible.

If Murray’s goal was to make Usmanov look like a thug, then mission accomplished.

Schillings has a page on its website entitled: The internet attacker.

It states:

The Issues

Our client was the founder and CEO of a financial services company. An anonymous source created a website which accused our client of assault, various financial crimes and unethical behaviour. We suspected that the source was a disgruntled former business partner, based both in the USA and the UK, but we could not initially prove this.

The Solution

The internet is not lawless. All the laws that apply to traditional publications apply, plus new regulations have been created. In this instance we:
# applied to Court for a “Spartacus” order requiring the source to identify himself or his ISP and webhost to identify him; and
# contacted the host, ISP and various search engines advising them that even though the allegations had physically been posted in the US they were defamatory under UK law as they could be accessed here
# search engines and ISPs removed the material.

Once the source was outed and starved of the oxygen of publicity, he quickly settled to avoid a defamation claim.

Tim Worstall writes:

The internet attacker

The Issues

Our client was the founder and CEO of a Russian metals company. An Ambassador created a website which accused our client of assault, various financial crimes and unethical behaviour, including heroin trading and rape. We suspected that the source was disgruntled and while he had published such allegations in a freely available book we advised our client not to sue for defamation.

The Solution

The internet is not lawless. All the laws that apply to traditional publications apply, plus new regulations have been created. In this instance we:

# applied to Court for a “Spartacus” order requiring the source to identify himself or his ISP and webhost to identify him; and
# contacted the host, ISP and various search engines advising them that the allegations were defamatory under UK law, although no one had ever tried anything in court.
# search engines and ISPs removed the material.

Once the source was closed down we could invoice our client in the knowledge of a job well done. The reputation of Gospodin Usmanov is, due to our prompt and careful attention, still spotless.

Laudatory comments upon our actions can be seen across the internet. If your reputation is at stake from some chavvy little blogger, no doubt any of the following would be delighted to provide you with references as to the effectiveness of our services.

Posted: 20th, September 2007 | In: Back pages, Politicians | Comments (30)

Wags In The OED And Amii Grove On Jermaine Pennant’s Duty

amii-grove.jpg NEWS in the Star that ‘Wag’ has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.

The OED aims to be descriptive, not prescriptive, and strives to remove the authors own prejudices from its tome.

Anorak readers will recall how Dr Johnson offered: “Excise: a hateful tax levied upon commodities” and “Oats: a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.”

You may also recall the Anorak Lexicon (which will return again soon) marking mention of words such as Bovey (orangey stain), the Kilroy-Silk (ditto) and the Bext (a text message to one’s PA.)

Of course to describe a Wag is to see a Wag and for education purposes the Sun focuses on Amii Grove.

Amii has the prescribed superfluous vowels in her name. She also has assisted blonde hair, a tight sweater and the epithet “Page 3 stunner”.

Amii’s footballer is/was Jermaine Pennant, the diminutive Liverpool winger. He lives in a mansion. It has CCTV. And Amii is shocked at what she is looking at.

“Sure enough,” says she, “the tape showed a pretty brunette walking into our bedroom with Jermaine. I could see the moment they turned the light off – and burst into tears.”

The OED will applaud the Sun’s syntax. A lack of that dash and readers may suppose Jermaine and his lover turned off the lights and began to sob. But with the gift of grammar we can see that it was Amii doing the crying.

And she has suffered for her love.

“He spends up to six hours a night playing Call of Duty 3,” says she. We have no idea what she is talking about, but are buoyed to learn that in this foul-mouthed age, Amii can not bring herself to say the word toilet in public and resorts to euphemism instead.

“He would sit down at 9pm and lay out crisps and fizzy drinks in a circle around him so he wouldn’t have to move for the next six hours,” says Amii. “He would stay up till 3am even before matches, wearing a head-set so he could talk to friends about who he was going to kill next.”

Insightful, indeed. And good news as Amii introduces her man to Scrabble. She tells us he became an “addict”.

And now that “Wag” is an official word, the footballer can get some more points…

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