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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

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)

Daily Express Exclusive: Jose Mourinho Remains Chelsea Manager

mourinho.jpgJOSE Mourinho. He came. He bored. He wore a Matalan coat. He left by text message. The Chelsea manager is no more.

“Mourinho says farewell to Chelsea, with recriminations,” says the Guardian’s front page.

“Exit Mourinho,” says the Indy on its cover.

“JHOSE: I QUIT,” announces the Mirror’s front page. “JOSE: I QUIT,” announces the Mirror’s back page.

“Goodbye Mourinho,” says the Times on its cover. “Mourinho walks out on Chelsea and Abramovich,” says the Telegraph on Page 1.

The Sun leads with the news “JOSE ‘OUT’.” And: “He texts goodbye to players.”

And the Express? To its readers Jose Mourinho remains manager of Chelsea.

The paper reports that Jose has been given permission to bring out his own brand of toilet paper.

“Chelsea manager” Mourinho has successfully applied to trademark his name for a wide range of goods.

The Express looks at the Morinho bottle, flags and teddy bear. Others look at the Mourinho sack, boot and pillow…

Posted: 20th, September 2007 | In: Back pages, Tabloids | Comment

England Rugby Players And Wags Hit The Nazi Lager In Paris

rugby-nazis.jpg“NOT since the Nazis occupied France and made the hotel one of their key Paris bases will the opulent and historic Trianon Palace, current home of the England rugby team, have seen so many WAGs.”

So says the Mail which gives an entire new angle on the England Rugby XV hitting the lagers in readiness for defence of their Rugby World Cup.

The reports continues: “But the wives and girlfriends of Phil Vickery and his merry men represent an altogether more welcome invading force than officers of the Wehrmacht and Gestapo.”

This all depends on perspective, of course. The hotel’s website offers the section Personal Guest Experiences which is unforgivably devoid of tributes from Nazi Wags and their players.

It cannot be ruled out that when leaving the hotel, along with the silver, the curtains and the wine the Nazis seized the guestbook. In a loft in deepest Bavaria there is surely the ledger containing such bon mots as “Wicked Time”, “Mental” and “By the time you read this I shall be Argentina”.

But the hotel that staged the signing of the Treaty of Trianon 1920, an agreement following World War I in which the Allies disposed of Hungarian territories, now pays host to Lawrence Dallaglio’s wife Alice, Jason Robinson’s wife Amanda (a keen caravaner) and Jonny Wilkinson’s girlfriend Shelly Jenkins.

In a thread between then and now, the featured Wags (billed as “Scrummies in the Telegraph) are all blonde.

Plus ca change, as they say in the better suites.

Hitler, Nazis and rugby [insert joke about funny-shaped balls here].

Posted: 6th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

England’s Bentley Continental: West Ham’s Alan Curbishley’s Local Heroes

gallery7.jpgALAN Curbishley is writing in the Express.

He begins with a question: “To start with, a quiz question: who do you suppose is the biggest seller in the club shop at West Ham?”

Curbishley is referring to shirt sales, the barometer of a player’s success. Bobby Moore, say we. Or what about Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst who played a key role in England’s World Cup success? Or how about Argentinean Carolos Tevez who kept West Ham in the top flight or Italy’s Paulo DiCanio?

The answer is Mark Noble.

Curbishley says this is not because Noble has only five letters in his surname and at £1 a letter there are big savings to be had when weighted against his team-mates Matthew Etherington, Calum Davenport and Fredrik Ljungberg.

We imagine that had Kieron Dyer not broken his leg he’d be pressing Noble for the coveted No.1 shirt spot.

But Curbishley has another idea. Says he: “But Mark is local and that’s why he appeals to the supporters so much.”

Curbishley does not provide figures for Noble shirt sales, which may number in single digits. He has a point to make and statistics even in this pro-zone era must not infringe on the manager’s theory.

He goes on: “Now, as England face two Euro 2008 qualifiers in the next nine days that are crucial to the future of our game, a vital player for Steve McClaren could be David Bentley.”

Curbishley’s point being that Bentley is English and therefore local to the England team. The article is entitled “Bentley could be our Rolls-Royce”. You know, the company owned by True British Volkswagen, although BMW hold the rights to the name and the marque.

Is Bentley more local than Frank Lampard, Emile Heskey and Michael Owen? Curbs doesn’t say. Perhaps he wants all England players to be born near Wembley Stadium, preference given to proximately to headquarters?

The message is that local is important. Curbishley remind us: “We at West Ham are doing our bit with eight Englishman in the team on Saturday.”

All very, well, Noble. Since becoming manager of West Ham (a club owned by an Icelander), Curbishley has brought in Henri Camara (Senegal), Nolberto Solano (Peru), Craig Bellamy (Wales), Kieron Dyer (England), Scott Parker (England), Julien Faubert (France), Richard Wright (England), Freddie Ljungberg (Sweden).

Says Curbishley: “Perhaps you were as shocked as I was when it was revealed that only 40 percent of all players who started in the Premier League on the opening day were English.”

Curbishley has every right to be shocked. Of the eight players he has brought to West Ham this season, three are English, giving Curbishley an England-foreigner reckoning of 37.5 per cent.

He is doing his bit to address this peculiarity…

Posted: 5th, September 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich Does Not See The Light

abramovich.jpgTHEY say he sleeps upside down with his head in pot of molten gold.

They say his London home is powered by 2,000 eunuchs chewing on white tigers’ testicles.

They say Roman Abramovich did enter the Andrew Martin shop in Walton Street, South Kensington and try to buy a lamp.

He offered his polonium credit card. And it was declined. A witness, says the Times, saw all. They say Abramovich was “very polite about it”.

They say rivers started to run backwards and Britain’s richest man did walk on his hands in circles.

So they say…

Posted: 4th, September 2007 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Money | Comment (1)

Arctic Monkeys Take Piss Out Of England XI And McClaren’s Marvels

mcclaren.jpg“BET YOU LOT PEED ON DANCE FLOOR!” shrieks the Sun, whose equally bizarre subheading reads: “Arctic fans flood cricket pitch.”

The paper reports the England’s cricketers were “knocked for six” by the smell of their pitch yesterday after 100,000 arctic Monkeys fans had “used it as a giant LOO”.

The Monkeys’ Old Trafford concerts had left the outfield flooded with urine, and “England stars like Kevin Pietersen and Monty Panesar were puzzled by the whiff as they slid about on the grass during England’s thrilling three-wicket victory over India yesterday”.

Presumably England stars who are unlike Pietersen and Panesar were perfectly at home ankle-deep in old piss.

The story is a neat reversal of the usual relationship between England matches and stadium concerts.

Usually it is the music fans at who turn up their noses at the unmistakably pungent aroma that lingers on the pitch long after the latest performance by McClaren’s Marvels.

Posted: 31st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Net Losses: Football Burns More Calories Than Sex

maradonna-fat.jpg“GOIN’ DOWN!” cries the Star. “Watching footie burns more cals than sex.”

Strange but true, if a new study is to be believed.

It reckons that watching a match burns as many calories as 180 minutes of sex or 40 minutes of running.

Old Mr Anorak watches no football, but always has 180 minutes of sex on a Saturday afternoon, and he’s as fit as a fiddle, despite a drug habit that makes Keith Richards look like Delia Smith. (Actually, come to think of it…)

Anyway, the point is that to achieve this kind of calorie-burning, you have to be pretty active.

The survey reckons that the “jumping, dancing, yelling and air punching that goes into celebrating a goal burns off 81.5 calories, while even stamping, moaning and shouting at the ref involved in conceding one takes 61 calories.”

All good advice, but health-conscious Arsenal fans should take this with a pinch of salt (though not more than the recommended daily allowance).

As we all know, noisy and energetic behaviour is not the done thing inside the Emirates.

To burn off the required calories one should follow the example of medical experts and hit at least one steward (200 cals) and abuse two or more police officers (300-400 depending on length and volume).

But skip the two pints of beer if you are serious about losing weight.

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

Debunking 9/11 With Robert Fisk’s Popular Mechanics

THE 9/11 Arab-based truthers are like the Holocasut deniers: it never happened but wouldn’t it be great if it had have. Not that it did. But great though if it did.

Dizzy looks:

I forgot to mention that on Saturday I read the single most hilarious Robert Fisk article ever. The piece was titled “Even I question the ‘truth’ about 9/11” in which Fisk hilariously asserts,

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious “war on terror” which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush’s happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that “we’re an empire now – we create our own reality”. True? At least tell us.

“I’m not a conspiracy theorist but….”. Seriously, read the whole thing, it really is hilarious. He talks about all the conspiracy theories but frames them as “serious questions”. What I find a strange is that a journalist who acts like he’s well informed has not read Popular Mechanics or purchased their publication (cover pictured) which comprehensively rips apart every single one of the mentalists’ theories about the supposed “questions” around 9/11.

I mean, I’m not a fan of the Independent’s angle on the news generally. But what on earth is Simon Kelner and the Comment Editor playing at letting their paper be used to promote idiotic conspiracy theories that don’t stand up to scrutiny? I mean, it didn’t like being attacked by Blair as a “viewspaper”, but on Saturday it published an article that made it something else entirely.

Posted: 27th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (12)

What We Gonna Do? Life On Mars Behind Playground Bullying

mars.jpgAS the nation struggles to understand the violence of today’s youth culture, The Times offers a couple of pointers. (Pic: The Spine)

“GCSE writing contains ‘sickening violence’,” it declares. This refers to complaints by examiners that pupils taking English are writing increasingly violent prose when given titles like… er, “The Assassin”.

OK, so maybe that’s not a very good example. But surely no one could argue with the claim that gay-bashing is caused by the BBC time-travel drama Life on Mars.

Teachers unions have apparently claimed that the homophobic language of old-school seventies detective Gene Hunt was “harmful”, and that “Hunt’s use of ‘bender’ and ‘poof’ could be responsible for playground bullying”.

All very embarrassing for BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons, who praised the show and said it contained “some of the best one-liners I could hope for”.

The paper helpfully lists a few of Hunt’s bon mots, but sadly there’s no room to repeat them here.

We want to see them, you understandably wail.

Yes, indeed. But as DCI Hunt would say, “I want to hump Britt Ekland. What are we gonna do?”

Posted: 27th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Amy Winehouse Circumcises Her Demons

amy-winehouse-blake.jpgAMY Winehouse has been on the “slash” (Star). Winehouse is in London’s Sanderson Hotel, which may or may not be a form of rehab.

The Mirror says her arm is covered in bandages. There is blood seeping from a large gash on her knee. Her shoes are blood-stained. Her mascara has run down her face.

To her side is her husband Blake. His face is scratched. The Mirror says the lines appear to form the letter ‘A’ on her cheeks.

The paper hears that earlier the night, Blake had been ruining down Regents Street (his job is given as a “video runner”) asking random people if they had seen his wife.

They have. She’s been all over the papers on account of her drugs and her drink and her rehab. Now she’s all over the papers on account of her blood and her non-waterproof mascara.

If they haven’t, perhaps Blake could take their numbers and email addresses and put them on the Winehouse mailing list.

The Suns says Winehouse is “blood-soaked and battered”. Her wounds are the result of a “brawl”. The Mail says Winehouse has had a “fight with her husband”.

But the Mirror looks deeper. It hears “friends of Blake” says he is “obsessed” with self-mutilation. He hosts “’self-harming parties’ where he shares drugs with fellow partygoers before they cut parts of their bodies”.

Winehouse may well nod. A sip of wine always stiffens the resolve before a circumcision – before something or someone is cut off…

Posted: 24th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Calling Rob Styles: Chelsea Fan Accused Of Murdering Liverpool Supporter

ROB Styles has much to answer for.

Football arouses deep passions. And, as the Mirror reports, when referee Styles wrongly awarded a penalty in Liverpool’s home game against Chelsea he caused upset.

It is alleged that Chelsea supporter Mark Anderson and Liverpool fan William McClatchey became embroiled in a heated debate.

Was it a penalty? One thing is said to have turned to another and Anderson is due to appear in court charged with killing McClatchey and dumping his hacked-to-pieces body in two wheelie bins.

Rob Styles is suspended from duties…

Points For Styles: Chelsea Dives And Abramovich Drives

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

Points For Styles: Chelsea Dives And Abramovich Drives

styles.jpgDARK deeds suspected in the world of Premier League football as the Sun’s front page zooms in on Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich’s driveway.

We look at the asphalt. Our eyes search for bumps and lumps. Is this a clue to what happened to the old Chelsea die hard, less turned on to the delights of black footballers, corporate dining and victory than buried in his butcher’s coat?

Inside and readers are introduced to Rob Styles, a Premier League referee.

It was Styles’ lot to officiate at last weekend’s match between Liverpool FC and Abramovich’s Chelsea.

Liverpool are winning by one goal to nil. And then controversy as Chelsea’s new boy Florent Malouda shows that Chelsea’s decision to train 20,000 leagues under the sea was a wise one. He holds his nose and takes the plunge. The crowd hold theirs. Styles looks. Greg Louganis rises to his feet. Angst. Hope. Penalty!


Says Styles one day later: “In mistakenly awarding a penalty, I accept that I may have affected the result of the match and for that I apologise.”

And now we learn that Styles, a surveyor by trade (and he should check Malouda for signs of rising damp and rot) operates a company hired by Abramovich to lay that aforesaid drive.

A spokesman for the Professional Game Match Officials tells us: “The PGMO investigated this at the time and was entirely satisfied that no conflict of interest existed.”

Mr Styles is available for all manner of contracting work…

Posted: 21st, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Casey Batchelor’s Boy: Chelsea Captain John Terry’s No Kiss ‘N’ Tell

casey-batchelor-3.jpgIN “A Casey of Blues for John”, the Star on Sunday shines a neon light on Casey Batchelor, “one striker England captain John Terry FAILED to get his hands on.”

Readers learn that “Terry tackled the busty beauty when they locked eyes in London celebrity haunt Embassy.”

It was studs up as Terry checks Casey out. Casey, 22 tells us: “I could see him staring at me from across the club.

“He looked like a handsome guy but I just wasn’t interested.

“Then he walked over and started to try and make conversation.

“I made some attempts to chat back but he quickly got the message. He admitted defeat and wandered off.

“That’s when the friend I was with said, ‘Don’t you know who that is? That’s John Terry, one of Britain’s biggest footballers’.

“I had no idea and I still didn’t care who he was.

“But he must have been stunned that a girl had knocked him back. I later saw loads of girls around him trying to get him to notice them.”

Casey does not care. And she is happy to tell the Star how little she cares and that she did not succumb to Terry’s tackle.

And her testimony makes us wonder if a kiss ‘n’ tell is a kiss ‘n’ tell if there is no kissing and only telling? Does flirting constitute a kiss? And what does it mean for men who go to lapdancing clubs and the dancers?

Posted: 19th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Roy Keane Turns On The Wag Trade

handbag-roy-keane.jpg“KEANE turns fire on the WAGs,” says the Times.

Roy Keane, gum-chewing manager of Sunderland FC, former volcanic captain of Manchester United and World Cup dog walker, has issued a “withering attack” (“scathing attack” in the Mail) on the WAG culture.

Says Roy of the Rant and Ravers: “Priorities have changed for footballers and they are being dictated to by their wives and girlfriends.”

Being a footballer’s wife/lover/teenage temptress is, as one commentator put it, no “merry go-round of hermaphrodite babies and having your breasts set on fire that the (now defunct) TV series might have led you to believe”.

It’s all about positioning yourself for the best spray tan and shopping. What Matt Busby did for Manchester United, ITV’S WAGS Boutique did for London clubs, ensuring that WAGS would prefer to go shopping in the capital than in Wigan, Middlesbrough or Keane’s Sunderland.

Says Keane: “I find it surprising that geography seems to play such a big part, or that players let their wives decide. I think it’s weak.”

Keane names no names. And as Nikki reads of Beckham in Los Angeles and wonders what her man would be worth in that glitzy inflated market if he actually kicked a ball, Roy raves.

“Retire at 35 or 36, if you can live where you bloody well like – London, Monaco, wherever – any half-decent footballer will be a multi-millionaire anyway.” Or any Leeds United player, for that matter.

“Why is there such a big attraction with London? It would be different if it was Chelsea, Arsenal or maybe Tottenham, but they go a smaller club just because it’s in London, then it’s clearly because of the shops,” says Roy.

London United 

It might be because of the museums, the culture and the bigger clubs like The Embassy and Chinawhite, where Mrs Kickaball can rub orangey shoulders with any number of glamour model’s, soap starlets and paparazzo.

But London is not all. The Times says the North East has a “plethora of designer shops, and some of Britain’s most spectacular coastline”. Are you listening Armani?

The writer looks at wild-eyed Roy and goes on: “While Durham – Keane, Theresa, his wife, and their family live close by – boasts a centre of learning and architectural beauty”.

That alright, Roy? Is it o-okay?

Still listening, Armani. Your footballer can play for Sunderland. You can wear your designer frocks as your clamber over the rocks and visit Monkwearmouth Station Museum, Penshaw Monument and catch the Glenn Miller Orchestra at the Sunderland Empire.

Glory days…

Posted: 15th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)

Premier League Drugs: Scoring At Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool And Chelsea

fans8.jpgTHE Premier League season kicks off this weekend. At last. It’s been almost an entire fortnight since the last season finished.

Reports are that some Manchester United supporters have yet to make it home from the Cup Final, what with delays on the Tube.

But here come the new season to excite, exhilarate and amazzzzze…

But be warned, gentle football fan. As the Express reports: “Exposed: The cocaine culture at the heart of British football.”

A ball has not been kicked and already the whiff of scandal is getting up the nose of the national game.

Sure Tour de France cyclists cheat, forgetting that the blood they supply for testing has to be their own, and athletes run on fuel injections, but it is football that leads the way in scandal.

And here is the tale of drugs. The Express says Class A drugs are “routinely taken during games at ‘family friendly’ stadiums”.

The Express has found traces of white powder in the toilets at football grounds. Traces of drugs have been found at Old Trafford and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

The Express says this inquiry is “bound to worry parents”. Indeed, having lashed out for new kits and official boots for junior, the young impressionable football fan will be wanting an official Arsenal cocaine straw and a Theatre of Dreams mirror.

But reading on we get the news that it is not the players who are abusing substances but the fans.

John Williams, director of the University of Leicester’s Sir Norman Chester Centre for Football Research, says: “Some fans drink to add to the feeling of excitement. But a lot of people use other types of drugs for the same reasons.”

While we can speculate on what drugs would suit which team – Spurs (tin pot), Arsenal (jellies), Bolton (party poppers) and Blackburn (GHB) – the Express highlights the issue.

And makes us wonder how long it will be before the paper unearths a sex scandal among fans and sheds light on a the supporters who take drugs to dull the pain of watching West Ham take on Middlesbrough on a damp Tuesday night.

And paying £40 for the privilege…

Posted: 10th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Baseball Fan Matt Murphy To Make $1Million From Barry Bonds

WHAT an amazing career Barry Bonds has had. Barry who, you ask? Barry Bonds – y’know, the San Francisco Giants baseball legend who went into the record books when he hit his 756th home run on Tuesday.

Britons marked this great American sporting moment just as they do when the Superbowl is on, by watching Coronation Street and mowing the lawn.

Over there, this is huge news. It’s bigger than Beckham.

And while Bonds became the first player to hit more than 755 home runs, the fan who caught the ball, 22-year-old Mets fan Matt Murphy, should end up with a small fortune in his hands.

New York-born Murphy was visiting San Francisco en route to Australia when he decided, at the last minute, to attend the game between the Giants and the Washington Nationals.

Bonds hit the ball. And after a massive scrum, which left Murphy bruised and bloodied, he emerged with the record-breaking ball. And according to memorabilia experts, Murphy could make up to $1million by auctioning it off.

However, with rumours persisting about Bonds’ alleged use of banned drugs to boost his performance, items belonging to the star have previously gone for below the expected price.

Wonder what price the ball with which David Beckham scores his first goal in the MLS will go for?

Or for the ball Becks struck from the penalty spot in Euro 2008. Catch it if you dare…

Posted: 9th, August 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)