Back pages | Anorak - Part 65

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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

Alan Sugar Sells Stake In Spurs

venables-sugar.jpgSIR Alan Sugar, currently entertaining the great British public with his hammy performance in BBC 1’s top-rated soap opera The Apprentice, has decided to sell his stake in Tottenham Hotspur for a reported £25million to sports and media group ENIC International.

The multi-millionaire made his fortune with the electronics company Amstrad, which he founded way back in 1968.

He turned his attention to Spurs in the nineties, taking control of the north London club from 1991 to 2001, a period which he has since described as “a waste of my life”.

Once the deal has been finalised, ENIC will have increased its stake in Tottenham to 66% and while City rules require the company to make an offer for the remaining 34% of the club, ENIC intends to maintain the club’s AIM listed status.

Now that Sir Alan has completely washed his hands of Spurs, he can presumably spend more time focusing on his burgeoning TV career.

Maybe he could swap shows with Graham Norton and host Any Dream Will Do? A song close to the hearts of many Spurs fans…

Posted: 7th, June 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

London 2012 Olympic Logo Sucks: Says Wistful Piper Lisa Simpson

olympics-2012.png“OLYMPICS LOGO TRIGGERS EPILEPSY,” announces the Sun’s front page.

Olympic logos are like World Cup songs and official mascots, the marketing department’s way of leaving their soggy imprint on sporting events; something that should not offend the corporate partners.

The only people who buy official logo-endorsed mascots are parents of small children at motorway service stations. (The word “official” suggest something routinely anodyne and overstuffed. It rarely disappoints.)

The London 21012 Olympic logo will be easy to forget. Although Anorak reader Laurence Lemon observes this latest design by committee resembles Lisa Simpson giving oral relief. Not a pleasant image but, nonetheless, a statement. Not for nothing is the logo named The Wistful Piper.

As such, it’s not the kind of thing you want impressionable children to see, nor an epilepsy sufferer. You see this logo is not like all other logo because it flashes on an off.

1976summerolympicslogo.pngIt’s not enough to have London host the world’s biggest sporting event, what’s really needed to enliven the thing is a spot of strobing, a logo that will speak to people in America, Romania and Angola.

But there is trouble. The Sun reports that people afflicted with the photosensitive form of epilepsy are collapsing after viewing the logo on the internet and television. So the animated version has been removed.

And now the Mail says the static version should also be consigned in the same bin as Olympic mascots Izzy (Atlanta 1996), Millie the echidna (Sydney 2000) and logos like the Barcelona cow lick (1988) and the Montreal clenched fist (1976).

In “THE OLYMPIC LOGO REVOLT”, the Mail hears Tory MP Philip Davies say that he plans to table a Parliamentary motion calling for the Lisa Simpson Whistle to be scrapped.

Says he: “It is incredible that someone has been paid £400,000 to come up with this load of garbage.”

Indeed. It sounds unreassuringly cheap. The Millennium Dome cost £789million. Davies is right – let’s get the politicians onto it. If money needs to be wasted on official rubbish, the least we can do it make is spectacular…

Posted: 6th, June 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (11)

Bob Woolmer Murder: Told You I Was Ill

bob-woolmer.jpgBOB Woolmer was murdered.

Woolmer was killed by an ancient poison called anconite. He was killed by al-Qaeda, the Mafia, a deranged fan, a member of the Pakistan team, snake venom and a poisoned drink. Bob Woolmer was William Wallace in whites, hung, drawn, quartered and scattered to the winds.

Woolmer was the victim of a game of Corridor Cricket, in which an unnamed batsman did strike with deadly force the stale bread roll ball hurled down the corridor at the Pegasus Hotel, Jamaica, by an unnamed bowler. It was Woolmer’s lot to open his bedroom door as the missile was hit for “six” and the cry “Heads!” went up.

But now we learn via the Mail’s front page that Bob Woolmer was not killed. As the headline screams: “IT WASN’T MURDER.”

It now seems that the Pakistan cricket coach was not in the best of health at the time of his death. Such is the strength of the detective work in Jamaica that next week the world will learn that at the time of his death Woolmer was not feeling all that well.

Beneath a picture of Bob Woolmer, the Mail offers the caption: “Bob Woolmer: He was not a well man.”

As the Mail reminds us, “the 58-year- old former England batsman was found dead on March 18 in his suite at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, hours after Pakistan crashed to a shock defeat against rank outsiders Ireland in the World Cup.”

Mark Shields, a former Scotland Yard detective now operating as Deputy Commissioner in the Jamaican force told us he was “100 per cent certain” that Woolmer had been murdered.

flintoff.jpgThe Mail says that these “bombshell comments effectively wrecked the tournament”. Only they didn’t. The Cricket World Cup was wrecked, for England at least, when Andrew Flintoff set out to invade America on pedalo, the final finished in almost total darkness and Bob Willis, the third stump of Sky TV’s coverage, was bitten by a mosquito.

But to the Mail the game was up when Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room.
The world looked on in horror at the World Cup Murder Mystery. And now we hear a source tell us: “”Mr Woolmer was not a well man. It is now accepted that he died of natural causes.”

A colleague of Mark Shields’ says: “The knives are out for Mark. It’s enormously embarrassing . . . there’s blood on the carpet in the Jamaican police.”

Or it might be cranberry juice. Forensic report to follow…

Posted: 2nd, June 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Premiership Wages Hit £1billion

ashley-cole.JPGWHAT a hard life those footballers have – the adulation, the glamour, a never-ending supply of orange woman, and of course the massive pay packet.

According to a new report from Deloitte, those enormous wages will add up to a whopping £1billion in total next season as basic salaries and bonuses increase and the new £1.7billion television deal comes into effect.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation, is understandably livid. Says he: “Fans are sick of the way the game is being run, the way that is all about money. They hate to see players who do nothing all season getting paid so much. The clubs should be pumping more money in to the lower leagues and reducing prices”.

The annual review from the accounting firm also showed that in the 2005/06 season, wages rose by 9 per cent to £854 with the Roman Abramovich bankrolled Chelsea paying its players an incredible £114million.

The Premiership was also the top-earning league in the world with £1.4billion generated in turnover, significantly more than the likes of Serie A of the Bundesliga.

Beats working. Now all I need is to find a gay footballer…

Posted: 31st, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Maria Sharapova’s Grunt


Hark. Do you hear? Why, it’s the first stains of female tennis players striking ball with bat.


And the Mail spots one blonde player. It’s “Russian beauty” Maria Sharapova. Now that Anna Phwoarnikova has hung up her grunt, we study the form of Sharapova.

The Mail looks at the Sharapova forearms and the Sharapova legs as the tennis star grunts her way to victory in the women’s single’s in the French Open.

It is terrific stuff.

The Mail makes no mention of the score, but does deliver some vital statistics, telling us that Sharapova is 6ft 2in and weighs 130lbs. She has “tanned limbs” and can be seen clad in a “tight-fitting blue dress and knee-length leggings”.

How times have changed. The Mail produces a shot of Sharapova dressed in short white shorts and shorter white vest. Never mind the length, feel the grunt.

And look forward to a summer of serious sport at this year’s Wimbledon.

Posted: 31st, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Mamma Mia! Nancy Dell’Olio Shows Us Sven Goran Eriksson

sven.jpgIT was at last summer’s World Cup that England fans realised Sven Goran Eriksson had sold them a dummy.

Distracted by Nancy Dell’Olio, tales of secretary keepie-uppy in the Football Association’s offices and orange-skinned Wags, fans had largely overlooked the fact that Eriksson’s England team were devoid of direction, guile, skill, ability, teamwork, excitement and cohesion.

But that was then. And who knew that shorn of Eriksson, England supporters would hanker for those halcyon days of prosaic football and so much fake bake.

So in celebration of the time when fame was all and talent was wearing heavy make-up in a Baden-Baden boutique, Sven’s main strike partner Nancy Dell’Olio has written a book.

My Beautiful Game will tell the world about Sven and Nancy, as serialised in the Mail.

sven-nancy.jpgToday Nancy tells us how Sven won her heart. “Even now, I have no explanation for the love affair that changed my life,” writes Nancy. And we are hooked. Who knew that Nancy would share so much with David Copperfield’s bildungsroman?

One of us is crying
One of us is lying

“I was content in my marriage and had no flirtations or extra-marital interest of any kind. The idea of an affair was something I discussed with my husband Giancarlo as a thing that happened to other people. But then it happened to me,” writes Nancy.

Love happened when Nancy happened upon the “vaguely academic and inscrutable” looking Sven. Meeting one was in a Rome restaurant. The second meeting was in a club.

They passed me by, all of those great romances
You were, I felt, robbing me of my rightful chances

Writes Nancy “Again I felt those ice-blue Nordic eyes lock on to me. I noticed a look of shock mixed with desire, which came across as shy over-attentiveness verging on obsession.”

sven-goran_eriksson.jpgEngland fans may well agree. This was the look on Sven’s face when David Beckham scored that goal against the Greeks that clinched 2002 World Cup finals qualification. The look when Sven to talked to the media. The look when Sven saw England defeated by Northern Ireland. The look when Sven saw Faria Alam. The look when Sven emptied the dishwasher.

Nancy tells of the “white-hot laser of his stare”. Who needs Alex Ferguson’s hair-dryer when your eyes can melt flesh?

And: “For my part, I felt the magnetic curiosity of a woman who knows she has ignited the passion of an exceptional man.”

Wishing she was somewhere else instead

And then his first words in camera: “After a few mumbled pleasantries-I heard myself ask: ‘Would you like to have lunch sometime?”

They lunched. An affair began.

“I had loathed living a lie. Now there was no way out without telling my husband and causing him intense suffering. But Sven and I were also in pain, and I could not bear the thought of losing him.

“I kept thinking of the legend of King Arthur, whose queen, Guinevere, fell in love with Sir Lancelot. I felt we were a trapped triangle. I knew both men loved me and that only I could make the choice.”

But Nancy was disappointed. “My Sir Lancelot had given in to doubts about his Guinevere, and instead of riding in on his charger and carrying me off had held back and sulked,” says she.

Waiting for a call
Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small
Wishing she had never left at all

But eventually Sven called. Nancy got the nod. And it was on with the show…

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

Champions’ League Tears: Gerrard’s Liverpool Was Robbed

gerrard.jpgNO little lachrymosity on the Sun’s front page as Liverpool FC’s Steven Gerrard, his face contorted in “gutted” grief and suffering, illustrates the headline: “MERSEY CRIED.”

Liverpudlians are among Britain’s most emotive tribes, crying when their boys win, weeping as they board the plane to the match and weeping with joy or sorrow all the way home. There are stories aplenty of wet-eyed, whale-voiced men living nomadic existences in Paris, Istanbul and Rome.

Chins Up High 

Liverpool fans weep. And they weep when they are robbed.

“ROBBED by the hand of Zag,” says the Mirror’s front page. “THE HANDBALL THAT WON IT.”

Those among you who viewed the Champions’ League final may have missed this telling moment in which the traditionally cheating foreigners stole the silverware from brave Gerrard and his gutsy native and adopted British teammates.

So here it is. Look closely. See the ball. Note AC Milan’s Posh Spice look-alike Filippo Inzaghi (and he is just as likeable) close his eyes as the heavily struck ball approaches. Look as he twists, attempting to get out of the way. See the ball run off his chest and into the Liverpool goal. 1-0. Tears.

Did you see the handball?

“Kop’s hopes of sixth Euro cup is crushed by a handball goal,” says the Mirror. But the game finished 2-1.And, though the Mirror produces no pictures, the solitary Liverpool goal was scored from an offside position.

But no matter. This is cheating. Foreigners cheat. They are dirty, cheating foreigners. And we are the noble English who take life’s injustices squarely on the chin, with a stiff upper lip and the command “We will say no more about it.”

And It Burns, Burns, Burns 

But the lip is quivering. The lip is coated in salty tears of bitter pain. The lip is shaping words that cannot be repeated in a family arena.

Let them have their win. What is it without glory? In any case, Liverpool fans have their tears.

The Mirror spots one of the Red faction “distraught” at Liverpool airport. He and around a further 150 Liverpool fans had tickets for the match. They were on the plane. They were doubtless giving full throat to Ring of Fire, the Johnny Cash staple adopted by the supporters as they travelled across Europe en route to the unforgettable 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul.

And then the pilot comes over the Tannoy. The plane is unwell. The plane must stay on the ground. The plane cannot drive to Athens for the final, there isn’t time. So will all supporters please vacate the plane?

So to the command “Come ‘ed!” they storm the cockpit, take over the controls and in the finest traditions of heroic endeavour say to a man: “If any of should not make it, so be it. There’s a game to get to. And it is our duty to be there. Start the engine. Chocks away. We take our chance to say ‘I was there’. La.”

Or, rather, they all troop dutifully off the plane and sit in the airport, forlorn figures, the saddest people on the planet. Robbed. And we feel for them.

And they cry.

And cry…

And cry…

Posted: 24th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (6)

The King Of Torquay: Leroy Rosenior’s Ten Minute Teaser

leroy_rosenior.jpgMAGIC hats off to Leroy Rosenior. The former West ham and Fulham player has just been made manager of Torquay United.

Journalists are at the press conference. Rosenior is paraded before the leading lights of the local papers. He will put Torquay on the map. He will make them great, or at least better than those Exeter losers. Forward with Rosenior.

Rosenior has the right stuff. As the Sun says, Rosenior was “once tipped to be the first black England manager”. And sure he was – just as all black managers are so tipped.

The show finishes at 3:30pm.

At 3:40pm, club chairman Mike Bateson announces that he has sold 51 per cent of the club to a new consortium. The new brooms appreciate Rosenior’s hard work but feel that the club and manager want different things and it is time for a parting of the ways.

Rosenior is sacked. Rosenior has been the manager for ten minutes.

He tells us: “Obviously they thought I had done a fantastic job after ten minutes so let me go.” Adding:” I wish them the very best of luck. They are going to sort me out a bit of compensation.”

Although you’d have thought not managing Torquay was reward enough…

Posted: 22nd, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Miss Great Britain: The Wag Factor

michelle_marsh.jpgNO small thrills in the world of the Wag as Miss Great Britain looms.

As the Star reports, the contest will feature Michelle Marsh, fiancée to Oldham Athletic “star” Will Haining. And Nicola Tappenden, aka Nicola T, former Wag to West Ham striker Bobby Zamora.

Nicola will be sporting the Croydon sash.

Says an insider in the Star: “Having two Wags in the competition is certain to raise its profile. These girls have a lot to prove – and won’t be taking any prisoners.”

First things first. Is it a case of once a Wag, always a Wag? Is Nicola T the eternal Wag? And what is Wag without a footballer? It’s a huge issue that needs more thought than we can give it here.

The other point is on prisoners and their taking. One wonders what format the beauty show now takes? Are beauty queens required to shoot on sight, realising that their traditional dream of world peace cannot be achieved without shock and awe? Is this what chimes with the judging panel?

The competition is certainly fierce. And the organisers will be keen to avoid a repeat of last year’s contest in which Danielle Lloyd was stripped of her crown amid allegations that she was Wagging it with the show’s judge, footballer Teddy Sheringham.

And so to this year’s agonists. We have seen Nicola and Michelle. What are they up against? We look over some of the 50 competitors (details from the official Miss GB website):

Cary Baker (Wimbledon)
Achievement: Record Deal with BMG Records, touring with Five, Lionel Richie and Westlife
WF: Hammerette’s lead vocalist

Melissa Baxter (Bournemouth)
Ach: Representing Britain in Miss Tourism International in Sri Lanka
WF: French footballer whose name escapes us

Fay Bevan (Newport)
Ach: Was member of girl band Candy rivals of Kandifloss (Chantelle from celeb Big Brother’s band). Finalist in Max Power 2006 Babe competition. Covergirl for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club calendar
WF: Sheffield Wednesday merchandising manager

Clair Cooper (Westminster)
Ach: In the short term to make all Gingers proud as I am the only Redheaded Miss GB finalist this year.
WF: Paul Scholes

Sara Louise Hempel (Blackpool)
Ach: I am currently Miss Blackpool 2006 which I am very proud of, I’ve also been crowned Miss Poulton and Miss Brannigans.
WF: Half-time snacks

Stay tuned…

Posted: 21st, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Top Sporting Sex Scandals: Cristiano Ronaldo And John Terry Go To Pot

cristiano-ronaldo.jpgIN readiness for tomorrow’s FA Cup final, the Daily Sport pits Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo against Chelsea’s John Terry.

In this football smackdown the paper asks: “Who wins in the sack? We ask the girls who know.”

In the interests of fair play it might be best for Ronaldo to get into bed with Terry. But what need to push back the envelope of sporting endeavour when you have such willing and able pundits as Emma Kearney.

Said to have fronted TV show Nice House, Shame About The Garden, Kearney tells us how she gave Terry oral relief in his Porsche.

As the report says, Terry was so keen to have his way with the Australian glamour model he issued the rallying cry, “Let’s f***, I want to f*** you.”

Football fans cannot help but wonder what effect a similar call to arms would have on the Wembley turf if aimed at Ryan Giggs. And whether, if successful, England captain Terry should use the tactic in a national capacity.

For now, we hear of Terry scoring, and with a trademark headed goal.

But is he better than Ronaldo? To help us appraise the situation, Julie Hawkins arrives on the sofa.

Readers and Ronaldo’s Manchester United teammates learn how the player likes to have sex in the shower. Says Julie: “He scored a hatrick with me – and I’m not talking about goals.”

Impressive stuff, perhaps, But readers brought up on stories of five times a night romps may be disappointed by talk of triple plays.

Anorak recalls some sporting endeavours that make Ronaldo and Terry’s exploits look Championship material:

Steve Davis: Back in 1999, Snooker’s Mr Interesting cheated on his wife Judith with 19-year-old Cheree Palla. The talk was of seven-times-a-night. “He was the best lover I’d ever had,” she confided in the Mirror. “He did things to me I didn’t even know you could do.”

Ian Botham: Having denied breaking the bed with Miss Barbados Lindy Field, married Botham became entangled with Australian waitress Kylie Verrells. She claimed Beefy saw the value of email and wrote her: “Babe, you ain’t seen nothing yet! The mighty Beefy sword awaits … and that’s just for starters.”

Stan Collymore: Dogger. And friend to Kristy Gallagher: “She did things with chocolate fingers that have stopped me looking at them in the same way since.”

Sven Goran Eriksson: Emptying the dishwasher as foreplay. Cuban heels. Ulrika Jonsson (“There was no sense of hesitation about him, just a calm, gentle loving”). Faria Alam (“It was beautiful. He didn’t use a condom, he was not concerned about me getting pregnant. Then he pulled on some cotton pyjama bottoms before returning to bed.”)

Boris Becker: Nobu restaurant. A broom cupboard. Angela Ermakowa in the Mail: “To stop him when he was so excited was as impossible as stopping a high-speed train,’ she confided, exclusively, in the Daily Mail. “I felt like Cinderella… Boris was like a radiant German knight.” Boom. Boom.

In the pantheon of sporting kiss ‘n’ tells, Ronaldo and Terry and Emma and Julie hardly score…

Posted: 18th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)

Gemma Atkinson Keeps Them Crossed For Manchester United’s Ronaldo

gemma_atkinson.jpgINTERESTING to read on the front page of the Star that Gemma Atkinson is still stepping out with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Pictured with a sheet held to her high-pressured bosom, Gemma is here to tell us that she is “up for the cups”.

Tomorrow is FA Cup final day and any self-respecting Wag will be applying the wood stain in earnest.

Though the action on the pitch will be keen, experience tells us that the cameramen will punctuate lapses in play with shots of the crowd. And that mean focusing on the Wags.

But what’s this? We read that Gemma will not be there. Gemma, now dressed in a blue bikini was given a pair of tickets by a “special friend”.

But she gave them to her parents.

So instead of going to the Wag-fest, Gemma will be at home watching the match on her sofa. A source tells the Star: “Gemma has got everything crossed that United will do the Cup and League double and bring home some silverware this season.”

Everything crossed. Surely not…

Posted: 18th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (19)

Would Jew Believe It: Chelsea Fans Call Gary Lineker A ‘Yid’

whitehartlane4.jpg“LINEKER is target of race hate,” says the Mirror. The paper looks on as former England footballer Gary Lineker walks to the stage. He is to present an award at Chelsea FC’s £135-a-head Player Of The Year dinner.

The crowd show their appreciation for Linker by chanting “yiddo, yiddo”.

“It was appalling,” says one fan. “And it wasn’t a couple of people. I’d say at least 100 people joined in. It was embarrassing.”

The shame heaped upon Chelsea is compounded when the Mirror notes that among the Chelsea faithful are sat ex-England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio and Lord Attenborough.

“You wouldn’t expect anything else,” says Lineker.

It is thought Linker was not making reference to Chelsea FC’s history as a club whose fans revel in a thuggish, neo-Nazi reputation, but the fact that Lineker played for Spurs.

Any visitor to Spurs’ White Hart Lane ground will be met with the sound of a drum being hit, the final beat punctuated by the collective shout “Yids!” And this from the Tottenham fans. Fans may also note the chant of “Yid Army”, unfurled Star of David flags and Tottenham yamulkas.

There is no other club in English football with such a tight affinity with one racial group.

The Mirror is, nonetheless, shocked and saddened. And notes how earlier this season Chelsea fans were politely requested from making noises mimicking the Nazi gas chambers as their boys took on Spurs.

Of course, this is all too funny. The new Chelsea fans are not a patch on the old diehards, who have been softened up by success, seating and the sheer cost of watching their team play.

You know, those Chelsea fans who cheer on a team owned by Roman Abramovich, a, er, Yiddo…

Posted: 17th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (7)

Stumped: Bob Woolmer Was Not Murdered

woolmer_bob.jpgBOB Woolmer was not murdered.

Woolmer was not struck a fatal blow by a cricket ball as he and the Pakistani team played a game of corridor cricket.

Woolmer was not killed by poison, a deranged lover, al-Qaeda, drink, upset fans, a carton of mango and carrot juice, or the mafia. Bob Woolmer died of natural causes.

That, at least, is what the Express is reporting in “Woolmer police rule out murder”.

Of course, the Jamaican police have not ruled out murder. But they might. The news is that officers on the case “hope toxicology reports will show the Pakistan coach was the victim of a ‘sudden unexplained death’”.

Cynics may well say that this sudden unexplained death pretty much sums up the police progress so far. Woolmer’s death was sudden. And it is unexplained. Job done. Case closed.

But this new line focuses on death by natural causes. A Jamaican police source tells the Express how his country’s Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Shields has journeyed to South Africa to speak with Woolmer’s widow. Says the insider: “He was going to talk to her in terms of ‘sudden unexplained death’ rather than murder.”

This is the cue for conspiracy theorists to get to work. A man is dead. Police fail to catch the killer or killers. And now the case approaches an altogether unsatisfactory conclusion.

What price a welter of books on the matter and the story turned into a made-for-TV movie?

It’s cricket’s most enduring whodunit since Shane Warne appeared in public with a fuller, shaggier and more highlighted head of hair.

And everyone and no-one is a suspect…

Posted: 14th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

£9.3 Billion London Olympics Of No Benefit To UK

london-olympics.gifWE all remember their faces – has-been athletes such as Steve Cram and Kelly Holmes, not to mention Lord Sebastian of Coe, erupting with joy as the decision to award the 2012 Olympic games to London was made. (Pic: Beau Bo D’Or.)
Yet while these ex-Olympians celebrated the undoubted extra media work they’d get over the next seven years, and London property developers danced in the street, the reality for ordinary Britons was less certain.

Now, in a new report for the Greater London Assembly, researchers claim the 2012 games – the cost has quadrupled to a staggering £9.3 billion – will struggle to create a boom in jobs, sport and even housing.

In looking at the impact of the games on former hosts Athens, Sydney, Atlanta and Barcelona, the authors of the report found that the cites all struggled to benefit from the event, with Greece even losing 70,000 jobs just after the 2004 games.

Increased participation in sports also failed to rise significantly after the event while infrastructure improvements mainly benefited international residents and those lovely property developers.

Expect to see a herd of White Elephants rampaging around the East End after 2012.

Posted: 14th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Manchester United: Alex Ferguson Going Nowhere

_42786021_fergie203.jpgNINE Premiership titles in 15 seasons is something even Chelsea’s self-anointed ‘Special One’ would be proud of, but triumphant red-faced Sir Alex of Ferguson has no plans to quit while he is ahead.

With the 10-man Blues putting on a memorable and surprisingly entertaining show at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but failing to beat Arsenal and keep their titles ambitions alive, United’s Scottish king could drink from the time-honoured ‘flute’ of champagne in celebration and look to the future.

“Why should I give up?” asks Ferguson, “I feel invigorated by the young players at the club and players like Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes turning out every week for me. I don’t know how long I will last now but I am enjoying it”.

His charges can now bask in the glory of a Chelsea guard of honour in the now-meaningless mid-week clash at Stamford Bridge.

Fergie’s success this season, which could run to a league and cup double, is all the more worthy considering the mediocre likes of Fletcher, O’Shea and Brown in his ranks. For that and that alone he deserves another knighthood. And another ‘flute’ of champagne.

Posted: 7th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

Alan Ball’s Eternal World Cup Glory

5.jpgFAREWELL Alan Ball. You came. You scampered about the pitch like a feisty Yorkshire terrier. You won the World Cup.

On a happier note, since those heady times of 1966 and all that, England have been routinely disappointing, bereft of ball control, cohesion, tactical awareness, ability and style. They also lack belief, but it is hoped that once they get the skills, the confidence will come.

As it is, Ball’s position as one of the small band of English World Cup winners is safe for some years, and certainly while Steve McClaren is in charge of the England team.

Ball was a worker with natural talent. Ball won.

And you can just imagine Ball, one always quick to remind all and sundry about his World Cup exploits, going up to St Peter and saying, “Fair dos, you’ve got the key to the Gates, your own sandals and a flowing white beard, but have you got a World Cup winners’ medal. Go on have you? I think not.”

Of course, in riling St Peter, Ball risks being relegated, something that occurred with alarming regularity in his managerial career…

Posted: 4th, May 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

Ultras Stupid: Vow To Kill Manchester United Fans

roma_fans.jpg“WE’LL KILL MAN UTD FANS.”

The Star’s front-page headline promises much. And none of it pleasant.

British book shops have shelves dedicated to the stories of sad men who see football fandom as a form of guerrilla warfare.

But this is not England. This is Italy, land of culture, fashion and the profiterole.

The Star has a picture of a fan of AC Milan. He is offering us his best Nazi salute. His head is wrapped in a hood. He is billed as one of the Ultras, a gang of inadequates who follow the Milan side.

And they have issued this proclamation: “Speak English and your dead.”

Of course, this could read “Speaka da Inglish and you is dead”, and it is tempting to turn to such anachronistic language given the circumstances.

“PLAY DUMB IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE,” comes another headline deeper inside the paper. Not stupid dumb – something many travelling football fans can carry off with aplomb without the Star’s promoting – but mute.

Trouble has dogged Manchester United’s European adventure this season. And the Star feels duty bond to looks over it all.

There is a picture of a Manchester United fan bloodied and battered in Rome.

The paper looks at violence between Catania and Palermo. A policeman died. “All hell breaks loose”.

This is bad. United fans should be concerned. But do not worry. Palermo and Catania play in Sicily, which schoolboy geography points to being not all that near Milan, or even Rome.

But the Star wants to show the trouble. And who knows, a United fan may play dump enough to end up in Sicily for tonight’s match in Milan.

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

Bob Woolmer Poison: It’s Not Over Yet Says Sherlock

woolmer2.jpgWITH the Cricket World Cup ended under a dark cloud – the final finished with Sri Lanka’s players risking life and limb trying to hit a hard ball in the dark (unsurprisingly, they lost to Australia) – we return to the main story: the death of Bob Woolmer.

In “Woolmer ‘paralysed by poison”, the Express hears it claimed that the Pakistan coach was rendered powerless by poisoning before being strangled.

The BBC’s Panorama show has seen the preliminary toxicology reports that says poison was found in Woolmer’s blood.

Ans this is seen as a breakthrough. Woolmer was poisoned before being killed, eh? Not after? Although it has not been proven. But still, watch the show and find out what could have happened.

And there are expert views. Panorama hears chief investigating officer Mark Shields says he feels it would be difficult to strangle 6ft 2in Woolmer.

Calling upon his many years of experience, Shields tells the BBC: “A lot of force would be needed to do that.” (Ed’s note: Insert ‘No shit Sherlock’ here.)

And: “Bob Woolmer was a large man and one could argue that it was an extremely strong person, or maybe more than one person. But, equally, the lack of external injuries suggests that there might be some other factors.”

Good to know the case is making progress. And the BBC is making entertainment from it…

Posted: 30th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment

‘I Am A Transsexual Sportswriter’: Jacqui Oatley Meet Mike Penner

jacqui_oatley.jpgWHEN JACQUI Oatley, 32, covered the Premiership game between Fulham and Blackburn on BBC TV’s Match of the Day football review, she proved to be every bit as sick as a parrot/over the moon as the show’s male commentators.

No comment on players legs. No comment on which two teams’ kits look best together on the pitch. No comment on getting grass stains out of nylon. Just the usual commentator stuff – game of two halves, rocket shots and crowds in raptures.

No big deal. And certianly no big deal compread to the news that LA Time staff writer Mike Penner will be from now on using the byline Christine.

Says Mike: “During my 23 years with The Times’ sports department, I have held a wide variety of roles and titles. Tennis writer. Angels beat reporter. Olympics writer. Essayist. Sports media critic. NFL columnist. Recent keeper of the Morning Briefing flame.

“Today I leave for a few weeks’ vacation, and when I return, I will come back in yet another incarnation.

“As Christine.

“I am a transsexual sportswriter.”

And Penner can do the job as well as ever he could. As Mike says: “Everyone who knows me and my work will be transitioning as well. That will take time. And that’s all right. To borrow a piece of well-worn sports parlance, we will take it one day at a time.”

Twat! Liquid football…

Over to you, Gary Lineker…

Posted: 28th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)

Manchester City And A New King’s Ranson

man_city.gifWHILE the future of Arsenal football club remains up in the air, Manchester City are themselves the subject of a new bid from none other than former player Ray Ranson.

The one-time Man City full-back eschewed the usual route of opening a pub and instead made his money from insurance and sports finance.

The 46-year-old is leading a consortium with a bid of £90 million which covers the club’s shares, loans of around £24 million to major shareholders John Wardle and David Makin and debts to other creditors.

City fans, frustrated by another season of mid-table disappointment, will be particularly pleased to hear that Ranson is apparently prepared to provide a warchest of £20 million for transfers.

The Merseyside-born millionaire twice tried to purchase Aston Villa a few years ago, but may well find himself succeeding with this City bid.

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

Lottery The Loser In Olympic 2012 Money Marathon

millenni.jpgALMOST two years have passed since London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.

How has-been athletes, the construction industry and London mayor Ken Livingstone all rejoiced over the, apparently, momentous decision.

However, with the cost of hosting the event continuing to rocket, the heads of lottery-funded voluntary bodies have joined leading names in the arts world in demanding that the plundering of lottery money for the Olympics be investigated.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell’s recent decision to siphon off another £675m of lottery money from the arts, sports, heritage and good causes means that, so far, a whopping £2. billion of lottery funds has been diverted to pay for the Games.

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Central Council for Physical Recreation, says: “If there is to be a real legacy of increasing participation in sport, it seems ironic, if not perverse, for money to be taken away from community sport to fund the Olympics”

Jowell is adamant, however, that her decision was the right one, “This isn’t about taking money from the lottery to build a new Trident. This is money from the existing good causes to an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime good cause.”

Taking lottery money to use for the arms trade? Why didn’t New Labour think of that one before they started blowing things up in Iraq?

Posted: 24th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)

Andrew Flintoff Drowns His Sorrows

flintoff.jpg“OWZPRAT!” says the Mirror as English cricket’s star player Andrew Flintoff perches on a bar stool.

England all-rounder Freddie is as versatile off the pitch as he is on it, taking on beer and Jaegermeister (35 per cent-strength notes the Mail) at the Piano bar in Barbados. England are out of the World Cup and Freddie has time on his hands.

“They were certainly the only shots Flintoff has got to grips with during the tournament – having failed dismally with the bat,” says the Mirror.

This is all too true. But to single Freddie out for criticism seems unfair given that English team spirit extended to the full XI agreeing to be as crap as one another and so diffuse blame.

But still the Mirror zooms in on Flintoff’s drinking session. The paper reminds us that in his early days at Lancashire his teammates used to call a drinking binge “Getting Freddied”.

And can we ever forget the story of how in preparation for England’s match against Canada, Flintoff commandeered a pedalo and set off to conquer South America.

As the Mail notes, after that not-in-the-least-bit-hilarious incident – a contrite and possibly hung-over Flintoff told us: “I’m ashamed and embarrassed. I’ve got to show this is the end of these sorts of incidents. I know it will take time to regain people’s trust.”

Says the Mail: “On this evidence, he may well be right.”

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

Queen Elizabeth’s Arsenal

queen.jpg“GOD Save our gracious team, long live our noble team, God save our team…”

A song to warm the cockles as Arsenal fans wake up to the news that no less a person than Her Majesty the Queen supports the Gunners.

In the Sun’s front-page news (“QUEEN: I SUPPORT ARSENAL”), readers learn that Her Majesty is a follower of the London giants.

Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabreagas, a Spaniard by design, tells us: “It seems the Queen follows football and she told us she was an Arsenal fan. She appeared to definitely know who I was and we exchanged a few special words.”

Rightly what was staid in the Queen’s chambers stays in the Queen’s chambers.

All we can reveals is that, as is often the way with football fans, support runs along family lines and the Queen’s late mother was also a fan of the Gunners.

All hail the “GUNN EIIR S” says the Sun. And readers thrill to the news that Liz has followed the Arsenal for many a long season. As a “senior Royal source” tells us: “Her Majesty has been fond of the Arsenal for over 50 years.”

And: “Her late mother was a self-confessed Gooner, due largely to her admiration of their former player Dennis Compton.”


And so it is that Her Majesty joins a long and illustrious line of Arsenal fans. As the Sun reports, The Queen is now in the company of her EastEnders’ namesake Barbara Windsor, favoured jockey Frankie Dettori, Joan Collins and Osama bin Laden.


Phil Collins supports Tottenham Hotspurs.

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

Prime Minister’s Petitions – More Rejections

blair-computer.jpgANORAK’S regular look at those petitions appearing on the Prime Minister’s website

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop students calling male teachers sir when they dont have a knighthood – Max Zito
Rejected: It was intended to be humorous, or have no point about government policy

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Send Mr Hain on a world tour, apologising to everyone he meets – Paul Carlin
Rejected: It was outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make Oliver Gover a Lord
Rejected: It was intended to be humorous, or have no point about government policy

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Allow Driver to run down Chavs on sight – Richard of Sefton
Rejected: It contained language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to get rid of the police state – Francis Warrick
Rejected: It contained language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative; It contained false name or address information

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make sure that banana’s are peeled from the bottom to top – Ian Elgin of Banana Liberation front
Rejected: It was intended to be humorous, or have no point about government policy

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Posthumously award Bill Nicholson a knighthood – Ryan Pitson
Rejected: It was outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government (see cash-for-peerages etc.)

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reconsider committing the United Kingdom to the absurd EU proposition to compel us to use low voltage fluorescent light bulbs that provide inadequate, cold, depressing light provided by ugly bulbs that don’t fit into standard fittings or are unusable in chandeliers and other artful light fittings – Buck Lopez
Rejected: It was similar to and/or overlaps with an existing petition or petitions (We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Save the traditional light bulb and retain freedom of choice)

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make it illegal to smoke while driving – Patricia A Gwyther
Rejected: It was similar to and/or overlaps with an existing petition or petitions (We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make smoking whilst driving illegal)

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop using global warming as an excuse to invent more taxes – Ben Ware
Rejected: It contained party political material

Posted: 22nd, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)

England Out And Time To Refocus On Bob Woolmer

conch.jpgFRESH developments in the BOB Woolmer murder case.

As the Independent reports, a man has been seen. Security footage taken from the 12th floor of the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, reveals a man.

The CCTV footage has been cleaned and enhanced and by detectives at Scotland Yard and, yes, the police can confirm that there is the figure of a man.

A a source tells the Independent: “The time of the footage and its location mean that this individual must be considered a suspect. Further work is being done on statements given by individuals to look at any inconsistencies. It is good progress.”

And interesting that it should coincide with England’s removal from the cricket World Cup, which provides this case with a colourful backdrop.

Deprived of shots of woman on conch-shell bikinis, England’s Freddie Flintoff going down with his pedalo and the Barmy Army turning the shade of raw ostrich meat in the sun, Scotland Yard’s offices revisit the film.

And this discovery has delayed the onset of the inquest. A spokesman at the Justice Ministry in Jamaica says: “The coroner has been advised that there are recent and significant developments concerning the death of Robert Woolmer.

“The coroner wishes that these new and significant developments be pursued with the utmost urgency, taking into account that the officer in charge has advised that these new developments are critical to the progress and the eventual results of the investigations themselves.”

This should give Sky television pundits something to discuss as they work their Barbados sun loungers. To date, breaks in play have seen heated debates on the palsied state of what must now be called Team England, Bob Willis’s mosquito bite and the sight of England’s Paul Nixon running into the surf topless with an equally underdressed Tim Abrahams, Sky’s cricket news man.

News of Woolmer on Sky Sports has been noticeable by its absence. Never once did David Gower, who fronts Sky’s package tour operation and advertorial, decamp to Jamaica.

But now with England out and the final approaching like the next drinks waiter he can make the mental journey, at least. And Woolmer’s matter can get the coverage it deserves…

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