Anorak

Back pages | Anorak - Part 66

Back pages Category

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

The Bob Woolmer Mystery’s ‘Poison Clue’

woolmer1.jpgTHE Bob Woolmer mystery is not over.

There remains the possibility that Woolmer was killed in a crime of passion. That he was offed by the Mafia. That he was assassinated by Al-Qaeda. That he was the victim of a bouncer in a late-night game of corridor cricket. (We still wait to see that CCTV footage from outside his hotel room.)

But the nets are closing in. “Poison clue in Woolmer hunt,” says the Express.

So he was poisoned!

Congratulations to those of you who guessed correctly. Anorak had opted for Osama bin Laden with the rogue vol-au-vent in corporate hospitality. But now we know.

Or do we?

The Express cites “Tests” which “confirmed” Woolmer was poisoned before he was strangled. Police are “working on the theory” Woolmer was incapacitated before his killer dealt the fatal blow.

Yes, a theory. And then the Express says, “It is believed that Pakistan coach Woolmer, 58, may have been silenced by a match-fixing mafia who feared he was about to expose them.”

Yes, “believed” and “may”.

Might it be that our Bin Laden theory is back on?

We concede that the infected finger food explanation is not yet established. And the express tells us Mark Shields, Jamaica’s Deputy Police Commissioner, has “refused to say poison has been found” in Woolmer’s remains.

Which make us wonder about that Express headline. Is it a message to deliberately mislead the killer? Or is it just wrong?

Whatever the truth, we remain keen to see that footage from outside the Woolmer hotel broom.

And that room service menu in full…

Posted: 16th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)


Carly Zucker Rates Friends And Family

carly-zucker.jpgIT’S been while since we last saw Carly Zucker, Wag to footballer Joe Cole.

It was back in July 2006 that we saw Carly perform her “sexercises” by a Miami pool. Carly’s footballer had just finished kicking a ball around in Germany and was looking to unwind.

Now Carly is in the pages of Hello!. Still wearing a tracksuit, Zucker is just returned from a friend’s wedding in Cuba.

“Friends are like family,” says Carly. “You stick with them. You can’t grow apart if you’ve got a true friendship. I’m a very loyal person.”

We could say that friends are not like family, what with you being able to choose your friends.

But Zucker has more to say. “We might not talk for six weeks on the phone, but if any of us are ever upset, we’re all together.”

So is she friends with any of the other Wags?

“I’ve got a really small frame,” says Carly. “But she clearly knows her own mind,” says Hello! by way of a repost. The inference that Randy Newman was right about short people is best ignored.

And, in any case, Zucker does not diet. “I eat, sugar, fat, carbs, protein,” says she.

Readers may not have any idea what those American-sounding foods taste of, and they may not be for everyone.

You may need to exercise as well as eat exotic foods to stay in shape. Carly is a part-time personal trainer. And, no, she has not produced a DVD work-out video – something an appearance in Hello! should remedy…

Posted: 13th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)


Stuck On You – Gemma Atkinson Throws Her Knickers At Cristiano Ronaldo

gemmaatkinson.jpgTHANKS to the wonders of the world wide web, news of Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend Gemma Atkinson comes with a slideshow.

Now while mum and dad learn via the papery News of the World how Gemma likes to strip for her footballer, the web version allows daughter to ape Gemma’s moves in the training ground of her own bedroom and son to extend the sticky fingers of adolescence in his.

Now at last The News of the World can truly claim to be the family newspaper.

And here is Gemma to tell us: “I trained as a stripper for Hollyoaks so I’m really good. I’ve got a couple of wicked moves up my sleeve.”

Gemma, an assisted 32DD, is rarely seen in anything as demure as sleeves. But whatever the outfit, Gemma takes her clothes off to the dulcet tones of Lionel Richie. “He’s got a lovely voice,” says Gemma, “it gets me in the mood.”

But what’s this? GEMMA’S RE-UNITED,” announces the People’s headline. And no, Gemma has not been re-united with a favourite pair of knickers flung to the darker reaches of chez Ronaldo as Richie’s Stuck On You legato reached climax.

Gemma has been re-united with Manchester United’s Ronaldo.

It seems their relationship is not as smooth as a lap-dancer’s pole and the couple had a break in play. Why they split we are uncertain. But now they are back together.

And Gemma is stripping. This will keep Ronaldo happy. But what if he did cheat on her, for argument’s sake?

Says Gemma in the NOTW: “I’d dump him immediately. The best revenge is getting on with life and showing what a good time you’re having.”

Or, failing that, Gemma could always try locking Ronaldo in the house and playing Richie’s oeuvre at full throat. Or leaving her used knickers in the oven…


Posted: 8th, April 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (76)


Did A Mango And Carrot Do For Bob Woolmer At Cricket World Cup?

woolmer-bob.jpgWE join the Sun outside the window of the room Bob Woolmer died in.

It’s is room 12 – 374, the foremost digits indicating the floor.

But the Sun is not risking life and limb to show its readers a picture of a “squashed carton of mango and carrot juice – “Did this contain poison” – and the “desk from where coach probably sent his last email”.

The Sun’s man on the outside has not fashioned suction pads for knees and hands from plungers, but is stood on a balcony. Although he must have climbed over another balcony to get here.

Is this the balcony from where Woolmer “dragged” a white plastic chair, now seen inside his room? “Did Woolmer have a meeting in his room?” Are the fingerprints on the glass from the killers, Woolmer or the Sun’s snapper trying to steady himself for the shot through the shut glass door?

Questions and more questions.

“A drinks fridge could indicate he hit the bottle to relieve his despair,” says the Sun. Remember that mango juice carton?

“Torn sheets could indicate violence or a restless night,” the paper goes on. “Pillows are missing, backing reports that police seized a bloodstained pillowcase.”

woolmer-hotel.jpgRight now the cops are plumping that seized pillow to within an inch if its sorry life. Will it talk? Let’s hope so.

But if Plan A fails, the Sun can call upon the know-how of ex-Flying Squad chief John O’Connor to explain all.

Says he: “Two chairs face the bed, showing people were talking to the person on the bed.” Brilliant! “But it does not point to anything aggressive.” The angle of the chairs is wrong, right?

“None of this is adding up,” says O’Connor. The pictures do not show a room that was trashed in a struggle for life as you might expect.”

Given the often legendary goings on in cricketers’ rooms, the scene is one of relative calm and order. And not an ashtray in sight.

It’s all very suspicious.

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


Bob Woolmer, The Trusty Shields Of Justice & Death By Shower

woolmer.jpgTHE Bob Woolmer murder has a new angle.

In “BOOZE RIDDLE IN BOB DEATH” the Star says Woolmer “drowned his sorrows with a bottle or whiskey before he was found dead”.

Is this the clue investigators missed? As Mark Shields, deputy commissioner of Jamaica’s police force, has suggested, “You know when you’re involved in any piece of work and you are right up against it, sometimes you can miss the most blindingly obvious.”

So here is Woolmer sat in the bar at his hotel drinking a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. Pakistan have just lost to Ireland in the Cricket World Cup and Woolmer, coach of the defeated, is down.

Now look as Woolmer sways. Is he sat on a bar stool? The Star hears experts say how the tiny bone in Woolmer’s neck could have been broken in a “drunken fall”.

Accidental death? The Star says this would be a “huge embarrassment” to the aforementioned Shields who has said he is “100% certain”.

Fortunately, the papers are not confined to the business of facts and proof and can freely speculate on any number of reasons for Woolmer’s demise. To date, Woolmer has been offed by poison, strangulation, a crime of passion, drugs and al-Qaeda.

But was it all an accident?

Shields, as the Mail notes, is flying back to the UK for a holiday. “Don’t read anything into it,” says Shields. This break to see his children in the UK is “set in stone”. Says she: “I won’t change it for anything.” Shields will not be denied.

But the Mail does read things into it. It says Shield’s movements are “already being compared to the break taken by Cambridge Chief Constable Tom Lloyd, who went to France during the Soham investigation”.

The death of a man is now spoken of in the same breath as the evil murder of two girls?

The plot thickens. And the Express sees a “new twist”, just as it saw a “new twist” last week. It hears that Woolmer had a drink and may have slipped in the shower.

Did the “manual strangulation”, as indicated by the initial post mortem, result from a fatal tangle with a shower hose or a soap on a rope?

And here’s the Sun: “COPS NOT CLOSER TO BOB’S MURDER.” No new clues? Oh, come on. There must be something?

Thus challenged, the Sun talks of aconite, a white powder “used in the Middle Ages to cause death by asphyxiation”.

A new twist.

But in spite of so many helpful suggestions Shields is no closer to solving the case. But he is closer to his children. And, as the Sun says, Shields is closer to “local beauty Kenessa Linton, 24”.

Has she been DNA tested?

And what does she look like in the shower? Is there any CCTV footage?

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


Hamid, Hamed, Hamad – Bob Woolmer And Third Man Malik: Update And Correction

UPDATE: The Anorak has just received a solicitor’s letter from a Mr Hamid Malik Zia’s representatives.

Anorak readers may not realise that this is the man referred to in the piece hereunder – his not being named such. Indeed, Mr Hamid’s name does appear as aforesaid in the Times’ article which can be read here – Woolmer police hunt three missing fans who met team.

Hamad Malik gets a mention in the Times of India – 3 Pak fans may hold key to murder.

The Daily Mirror – which Anorak quotes as its source – mentions Mr Malik in WANTED BY WOOLMER COPS Hunt for three hanger-on fans.

And here.

Mr Hamed Malik can be read about in the Daily Mail’s website – here (Daily Mail).

Or you can read the Sun – Fans vanished after Bob murder.

And again the Mail – Woolmer murder detectives search for three ‘gofers’, and Cricket murder police hunt three Pakistan team helpers

Or Hamid Malik here.

The Anorak wrote its piece in the belief that anyone reading a satirical site such as this would notice most the comment on the press – that they cannot even agree on a person’s name.

The comment “and it was murder” is meant as sarcastic, given that the only evidence for murder were the words of the police chief, who was certain. Of course Mr Woolmer was not murdered.

We wish no comment on Mr Malik at all – his name being incidental to the media hype. We are sorry he feels offended. We reported the story in good faith. And were not informed about Mr Hamid’s issue until today – Jan 15, 2008. Had he contacted us earlier we would have been all too willing to help him. We will try our best to help him now.

We only say that Mr Malik contacted the police on his return to the UK and was not required for interview. We are happy to confirm that Mr Malik was not named or sought by the police as a suspect in the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer.

We said that before…

We trust this is an end to the matter.

————————————————————————

The article — and please note that sources are mentioned. We make notes where we believe we made an attempt at humour and irony:

NO declaration (Pun) yet in the Bob Woolmer murder case. But a new player is introduced. (Pun)

The Mirror looks at Hamid Malik, otherwise known to Mirror readers as Hamad Malik and to readers of the Sun as Hamed Malik. (Irony)

In the interests of justice, Anorak has made mention of all names, believing they could be one and the same person or else three people acting in consort. We await the arrival on the scene of Hamyd Malik with an eagle eye. (Humour attempt)

But to this Hamid character. The Mirror has a large photograph of his face. He is one of four “fanatical followers” of the Pakistan cricket team.

A family member of the man tells the Mirror they have spoken with him. “He is just hopping from island to island at the moment,” we learn. He is “enjoying the cricket”. And: “He is not aware that anyone is looking for him. He has not spoken to the police. We know 100 per cent he is not involved in anything.” (We give both sides of the report)

But there is controversy. The Mirror hears that Mr Malik was banned from amateur cricket’s Saddleworth and District League following a fight with one of his own players. The two years ban was extended indefinitely when Malik failed to show up at a hearing. He has never played for the Staley Cricket Club again. (Humour attempt)

Readers learn that Malik, who appears to be of middle-order years, lives with his mum.

Of course, it might be that his mum lives with him. But the Mirror is building a profile of the man and there is little time for niceties. (Irony attempt)

So do you know that man the police want to speak with in light of the Bob Woolmer murder? And it was murder (Sarcasm attempt). As investigating officer Mark Shields says: “It is very clear from the pathologist’s report that we are dealing with a murder investigation.”

Do you recognise Malik, who may be holidaying under one of his aliases? (Humour attempt)

Mr Malik contacted the police on his return to the UK and was not required for interview. We are happy to confirm that Mr Malik was not named or sought by the police as a suspect in the investigation into the death of Bob Woolmer.

Posted: 30th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)


Shining Like A Gemma Atkinson

gemma-atkinson.jpgGEMMA Atkinson, lover to footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, is sitting by a pool.

As the Star’s front page reveals (“Soap sizzler Gemma goes for bust”), the sun’s rays are turning her flesh a deep and vivid shade of orange.

But Gemma is not in danger. She can escape the merciless Spanish sun by sliding into the pool. Gemma is not all about taking risks. She knows preparation is all. Gemma comes equipped with two floatation devices attached to her chest.

These are “GEMMA’S MIGHTY OAKS” in the Sun. Gemma looks “spot on” in her leopard-print bikini. And her pal, Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett is a “cut above the breast” in a blue swimming costume.

“What a pair, of, er, Germs!” says the Star. Are they auditioning for “BOOBwatch”?

Hard to say. We don’t know where surgically-enhanced Gemma will go next. She’s a star. She shines day and night…

Posted: 29th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


Laden With Rumour – Bob Woolmer And Al-Qaeda

13osama.jpg“AL-QAEDA LINK TO WOOLMER MURDER.”

Bob Woolmer was killed by al-Qaeda? This is no small matter.

Afghanistan’s links to Pakistan are the stuff of war despatches, but did we ever believe Osama bin Laden and his horde were cricket fans? We know Bin Laden follows the Arsenal. But this is something new. Does the War on Terror break for tea? Will it be ended by a declaration?

Upset by Pakistan’s defeat to the Irish infidels, were orders given for al-Qaeda operatives to exact bloody and merciless revenge?

The hunt for Bin Laden goes on. And in light of the Sun’s news we suggest the Army’s listening devices in Afghanistan be recalibrated to pick up chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” and “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”? Somewhere along Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan a cricket fan is weeping into his replica kit.

dawood_ibrahim.jpgAnd above ground, the search is on for a Pakistan-based bookmaker. This turf accountant’s name is not given. But readers learn that he is “an associate” of Dawood Ibrahim.

Ibrahim comes with top billing, described as “one of the world’s most feared gangsters who has terrorist links”. He wasn’t at the World Cup but his brother Anees Ibrahim was. He was with the bookmaker.

And there is talk of a row between Woolmer and this shadowy betting man. An “official” tells us: “Bob Woolmer says he had thrown a bookie out of his room. He didn’t give a reason.”

Jamaica’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mark Shields, says now he has the names he will be investigating.

And we add a new line of inquiry to the matter.

Poison. Gambling. Murder. Cricket. Al-Qaeda. If someone can find a religious angle, we might just have an international bestseller on our hands…

Posted: 29th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)


Police stumped in Bob Woolmer “Crime Of Passion”

inzamam-ul-haq-21833.jpgVIDEO evidence has an established role in modern cricket and there is good reason to believe the Bob Woolmer case will be solved.

Mark Shields, the Jamaican’s policeman leading the hunt for Woolmer’s killer or killers, is studying CCTV footage of the areas adjacent to the crime scene.

But Shields, the fourth official, wants another opinion. And, as the Sun reports, a second post-modem on Woolmer’s cadaver is to be performed. Shields calls this routine. But can it ever be so?

And, as the headline goes – “WOOLMER ‘NOT MURDER’ RIDDLE” – there is a suggestion that the now former Pakistan team coach was not assassinated.

We hear from Tim Noakes, who was co-writing a book with Woolmer. He calls the idea that Woolmer was about to expose corruption in the game “ludicrous”. And he offers an alternative line of enquiry: “This smacks of a crime of passion – a moment of unexpected madness by someone.”

This is what gives the Sun its headline. Was Woolmer’s death a team building exercise that went too far? And why did the Sun overlook the chance for a more salacious headline?

The hunt continues. “Skipper remains silence,” says the Mirror’s headline. Pakistan’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is confronted by the Mirror. Inzamam is enjoying a curry in Southall, West London, a short distance from his Heathrow Airport hotel.

He refuses to respond. Is this an episode of “brooding silence”, of the type former Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan tells the Express followed one of Inzamam’s heated exchanges with Woolmer? “Revealed: Murdered cricket coach’s rows with his captain,” says the Express’ headline. 

Inzamam will not speak to the Mirror. He will not comment on Jundie Khan, Erfan Chaudhary, Tariq Malik and Hamad Malik, the hanger-oners being sought.

Helpfully, Tariq Malik is not so reticent. In “WE DIDN’T KILL BOB” Malik says he’s helping the police as best he can. And Chaudhary, pictured in grainy and shadowy form, says he wasn’t even on the island at the time of Woolmer’s stumping.

So who did it? Not at least two of the hanger-oners. And not any member of the Pakistan team. At least that’s what PJ Mir, Pakistan’s media manager says. “The Pakistan team has been officially cleared from the murder inquiry,” says he.

But Shields responds: “It’s too early to clear anyone, including the Pakistan team.”

So how did Woolmer die?

The net is being widened. The Star says all persons staying in the Pegasus Hotel at the time of Woolmer’s death will now be DNA tested.

And the video footage continues to be examined. The crowd await the verdict…

Posted: 28th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment (1)


Bob Woolmer Murder – Hanger-Oners Wanted

woolmer1.jpg“WANTED BY WOOLMER COPS,” announces the Mirror’s front page.

Readers who had expected the Cricket World Cup to be about palm trees, sunburnt necks and women in conch-shell bikini tops instead see grainy images of three men.

The trio are, in no special order, Jundi Khan, Hamed Malik and Erfan Chaudhary. They are the “three hanger-on fans”.

Can there be a worse epithet to go by? There is nothing admirable in being a hanger-oner. At least stalker suggests a motive.

Thus labelled it would not surprise us if the three never surfaced again, remaining holed up in some suburban bedroom, secreted beneath an official Pakistan duvet cover and talking about the great days of Imran Khan’s hair by the light of a torch fashioned from, well, Imran Khan’s hair. Innocent men guilty only of liking cricket as much as tabloid readers like football.

“They hung around team for days..now they’re vanished,” says a headline further inside the paper.

“Fans vanish after murder,” says the Sun. They “vanished” the day Bob Woolmer died.

Do you know where the vanishing fans are? Study the picture. Jamaica’s deputy police commissioner Mark Shields says: “We are looking for them to eliminate them from inquiries.”

One of the three, Hamed Malik, is based in the UK. Chaudhary is believed to be back at his home in New York. And there is a fourth man. He’s called Tariq Milk. He lives in Jamaica. And he has come forward to help the police.

But before we condemn the men in their absence, the Sun wonders is they are the guilty parties. Perhaps – just perhaps – Woolmer was killed by a “silent assassin”.

Shields of the Yardies says it wasn’t a local killer, at least he thinks not. “The fact at it was manual strangulation, asphyxiation, doesn’t really fit the profile,” says he. “One would tend to find either firearms or knives as the favoured weapons.”

So we are back to the missing trio. “CRICKET MURDER: BRITISH SUSPECT ON RUN,” says the Star’s front page. This is, of course, more then presumptuous, it being far less than certain that Hamed Malik is running anywhere. Indeed, as a fan of a failed team – Pakistan are out of the World Cup – he may be expected to find a dark corner to weep in.

And we have yet to see the CCTV footage of the corridor at the Pegasus hotel, scene of Bob Woolmer’s murder.

Do the missing three feature? Are they fielding as the corridor is used for late-night cricket practice, a carpeted wicket?

As yet, we do not know. But, as with so much cricket and sport, we’ll amuse ourselves during the breaks in play…

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


Bob Woolmer Murder – Video Evidence Asks How Was He Out?

07woolmer.jpgBOB Woolmer: “New twists.”

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

And, as the Express says, there have been “new twists”.

News is that West Indies captain Brian Lara and one of his predecessors, Clive Lloyd, have been DNA-tested as part of the Woolmer murder inquiry.

And they are not alone. Also staying in the Pegasus Hotel, Jamaica, scene of Woolmer’s demise, were the Pakistani squad. All have given DNA samples.

So much for looking for traces of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. But what headlines if one of the samples reveals evidence of altogether darker form of foul play.

And there have been interviews. The police have questioned players from Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

We imagine the players under the glare of the inquisitor’s 100 watt bulb:
Copper: Did you do it?
Player: Yeah, we gave it 110%. But I feel though we let the coach down today. The fans have ever right to vent their anger but, at the end of the day, I feel they went too far.

“GRILLED,” says the Mirror. And questions: “Why did Inzamam [Pakistan’s captain] change his room form the 12th floor to the 5th floor?”; “Why did Tarat Ali [Pakistan’s team manager] also move..and then check in again with a false name?”; “How and where did coach Mustaq Ahmed receive injuries to his face?”

658191.jpgAnd here is Pakistan’s media manager Pervez Mir to tell us what he thinks might have been the answer.

On Inzamam-ul-Haq’s room change: “He made the change before the attack on Bob and explained he wanted to be nearer to the other players on the fifth floor…”

Ali changed rooms because: “When I asked him why, he said it was after what happened to Bob he was scared.”

And on Ahmed’s cuts to his face: “These were sustained in practice on the morning of the Ireland game.”

Inzamam says that any suggestion any of the Pakistan team had a glove in Woolmer’s murder are “unthinkable”. It is “crazy”.

And here comes Inzamam, walking through Heathrow Airport. The team are heading back home and staying in a hotel on site. And Inzamam (booked in under the name Shirley Boycott) leads the way.

And while we look at that, police in Jamaica are looking at CCTV footage. “Unfortunately,” says Jamaica’s deputy police commissioner Mark Shields, it does not show the doors but shows the corridors at either end. It may give us an image or images of the killer.”

But it’s only a VHS tape. The quality is less then perfect. It is being digitally enhanced, before being despatched to the fourth official and other experts in video evidence.

And on it we may see Woolmer’s killer. “Could CCTV footage lead police to Woolmer’s killer?” asks the Mail.

Or will we just see Pakistan bowler Umar Gul charging down the corridor to deliver a ball to a waiting college. He bowls. The ball is struck hard. Woolmer appears. A stifled scream. Ouch! That looks nasty.

A shadow falls…

Posted: 26th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (5)


The Third Men – Bob Woolmer’s Murder

corridor.jpg

CRICKET’S dominance of the front pages continues as Bob Wooolmer’s murder occupies minds.

Was he killed by poison? Strangled? Was it suicide, a cry for help as he strove to understand the Duckworth-Lewis system?

While the matter makes the actual World Cup look like a sideshow – how innocent it was when privateer Flintoff was cricket’s shamfaced, shipfaced star – Michael Vaughan is talking to the Sun.

Vaughan, England’s captain when fit (not often), is asked to give his view on the subject of corruption in the game. Does it go on? Says Vaughan: “If I’m honest, yes, I think it does.”

“Vaughan: Cricket is corrupt,” announces the Sun’s headline. The source insides the Jamaican police says: “Information suggests rigging plans went awry when Ireland beat Pakistan. There is a suggestion that this sparked dark arguments and recriminations.”

Vaughan now speaks again. “I’ve never experienced it with any team or any players I’ve played with. I’ve never felt I’ve played against anyone who was doing it,” says he. “But my gut feeling is that there is still some kind of corruption in the game.

“I’ve never had any incidents or been involved in any conversations regarding fixing a game. I’ve never been approached and I hope I never will be.”

Not quite as the headline suggests, then. Cricket is corrupt as much as Michael Vaughan thinks it could be.

He goes on: “It’s not for me to talk about it because someone’s life has been lost and that’s what we should be looking at. Someone’s family is having to suffer.”

But isn’t this the very time to be talking about it?

Or are we waiting for the real debate to get underway when unfancied England win the tournament…

Picture: The Spine

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


Bob Woolmer Murder – Broken Neck & Snake Venom

woolmer.jpgIF the plan was to make more people notice the sport, then this Cricket World Cup has achieved its objective by some distance.

For the few actually watching the show on Sky Sports, the biggest story was always going to be how fit the cricket into the holiday brochure.

With the commentary team bathed in sun and ensconced in a five-star beachside resort, viewers were treated to England’s Paul Nixon running into the surf topless with an equally underdressed Tim Abrahams, Sky’s cricket news man.

We live in enlightened times, and were encouraged to wonder how many of the travelling production crew were on a busman’s holiday, working the cricket around a civil partnership honeymoon.

But now that has been overtaken by news of Bob Woolmer, who began the tournament as Pakistan’s coach, and England’s coach-in-waiting, and ended it a murder victim.

As the Sun says: “IT WAS MURDER – Bob strangled in hotel room.”

Readers learn that Woolmer’s murder was “particularly horrific”.

Says Jamaican deputy commissioner Mark Shields: “Bob was a large man and therefore it would have taken some significant force in which to subdue him and cause strangulation. But of course, at this stage, we do not know how many people were in the room.”

Woolmer has died in “extraordinary and evil circumstances”.

There has been an autopsy. There’s a broken bone in his neck. Blood on the walls. Gashes on the face. Vomit. The report states Woolmer’s death was due to asphyxiation as a result of “manual strangulation”.woolmer10a.jpg

“STRANGLED & POISONED,” says the Star’s front page. “Test ace Bob murdered with snake venom in bath” – an added does of exotica into the blender.

“In due circumstances the manner of Mr Woolmer’s death is being treated by the Jamaican police as a case of murder,” says Shields.

While Sky’s team enthuse about the new sunloungers and the cameramen begin the quotidian search for a woman wearing a conch-shell bra, the Mail talks of murder.

It hears the words of Woolmer’s widow Gill. Says she: “Some of the cricketing fraternity, fans, are extremely volatile and passionate about the game and what happens in the game, and also a lot of it in Asia, so I suppose there is always the possibility that it could be that.”

Woolmer killed by a deranged and murderous fan after Pakistan were knocked out of the tournament by Ireland?

The idea of a cricket hooligan is an anathema to British readers. Cricket is a sport where men wear blazers and ties and so too their women. Lord’s, that bastion of cricketing excellence, is peopled by older men dressed for prep school. They eat salmon. The game breaks for tea. The crowd are allowed onto the pitch at the close of play.

175px-mcc_member.jpgIs a killer among the picnic baskets? Or a serial murderer?

The Express remembers Hansie Cronje, captain of the South African national cricket team in the 1990s. He was sanctioned for match fixing. He died in a plane crash. He was the only passenger aboard the plane.

Rumour. Speculation. Front-page headlines. Cricket has the lot. England’s footballers will really have to go some to regain their spot in the limelight.

England coach Steve McClaren should go all out for victory. Or else make ready to flee on a passing pedalo…

Posted: 23rd, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)


It’s Not Over – The Bob Woolmer Mystery

wo3.jpgYOU have to feel some sympathy for Ireland’s cricketers.

There to make up the numbers, the Irish beat the might of Pakistan in the World Cup only to have their moment in the sun eclipsed by bigger news: Andrew Flitnoff’s booze cruise and Bob Woolmer’s death.

Or was Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, murdered?

There is a plot that unites Flintoff’s antics with Woolmer’s demise. It is, admittedly, a fanciful and macabre matter – a man has, after all, perished in suspicious circumstances. But are there missing moments from Flintoff’s night out? Is anyone above suspicion?

As the Guardian reports, Jamaican police are treating Woolmer’s death as suspicious.

“We’re going through a process of speaking to people, including members of the team,” Mark Shield, deputy commissioner of the Jamaican force, tells local radio.

There is talk of match fixing, of betting syndicates and of murder. “No, we are not saying that,” says Shield. “It’s the old adage – we have to keep an open mind.”

Pakistani team officials are heard telling reporters there has been blood and vomit in Woolmer’s room. A struggle? Poison? Linseed oil?

Says former Pakistani fast bowler Safraz Nawaz: “Woolmer’s death has some connection with the match-fixing mafia.”

The Guardian notes that at the time of his passing, Woolmer was writing two books – one on coaching, the other a sequel to his autobiography. Says Woolmer’s wife: “I have the manuscripts with me, but I have not read them. I cannot tell you when they will published but they are in the final stages.”

A book that would have garnered little interest beyond the world of cricket is now a whodunit?. What clues lie within the covers? What intrigue?

And while we speculate, here comes the team. A minute’s silence. Wet eyes. Sideways looks. And then Pakistan – who lost to Ireland – rack up their highest World Cup score of 349.

The vicissitudes of international sport, eh. One minute you can’t beat World Cup novices Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, the next moment you’re thrashing the relative might of Zimbabwe.

This is why we watch sport – to see the best and to see the shocks. Not that many of us are watching the actual matches; they’re on subscription-only satellite telly.

The bigger show is not…

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


Thar She Blows – Rachel Flintoff Lets Off Steam

flintoff1.jpgRACHEL Flintoff, wife of cricketing privateer Andrew Flintoff, says her man is “stupid”.

As has been recorded in the annals of sporting legend, Flintoff’s stupidity was to have stayed up late on a work night, drunk too much and set sail on a pedalo.

“Freddie!” screams the headline. “You’re a stupid bugger.”

Rachel, pictured in a grey top, staring into the camera and ruffling her brown hair, tells the Mirror the first things she’ll tell her husband is that he’s a ”stupid bugger”.

Says Rachel: “Andrew is extremely hardworking and extremely loyal… He can be in constant pain and covered in blisters and will still keep going for five more days.”

England management team should be thankful the pedalo capsized. Had Flintoff’s vessel been equipped with a pair of oars, it’s not hard to imagine the tireless sportsman fighting the pain barrier as he approaches the Colombian mainland.

But it’s good that he did not. England need Flintoff. And so does Rachel.

As Rachel, the face of Persil washing powder, tells us, she has a new bikini – “It’s brown and looks like leather. I’ve got about four really nice ones to take with me.”

Rachel is all set to join her husband out in the Caribbean sunshine.

Avast! Permission to come aboard? Splice the main brace and peddle like you mean it.

And don’t worry about the calluses on your hands, Flintoff – Rachel’s bikini can take it…

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


Andrew Flintoff Is Barney Rubbled At Cricket World Cup

flintoff-drinking.jpgANDREW Flintoff is “troubled” at the cricket World Cup. Or, given his ‘Freddie’ Flintoff nickname, Andrew Flintoff is Barney Rubbled.

“I feel ashamed and I’ve let a lot of people down – the team, the management, the public and my family and friends back home,” says one of England’s leading pedalo enthusiasts in the Sun.

Flintoff is pictured looking glum. He is also pictured knocking back a bottle of larger in the Shed bar, Perth, on the day England lost the Ashes.

Does he have a drink problem? Can Flintoff tell us, perhaps, about his demons, how he battles drink and how rehab is the only course left open to him?

“Sometimes I have the capacity to go a bit further than I should,” says he. “It’s something I’m aware of and I’m now saying it won’t happen again.”

But what if it does? Will Flintoff go into therapy and write about his dark days and darker nights in thrall of booze? Will flintoff’s next autobiography feature his greatest Test, how alcohol bowled him over?

“Possibly a drink is a release from the pressure – but I don’t want to go down that road,” says Flintoff. He adds: “But I don’t want to have to drink to release the pressure.”

A drink can work wonders. Indeed, Flintoff’s grandma Elsie, 80, tells the Sun: “If they can’t have a binge now and again, it is a poor do.”

But the Sun’s resident doctor says there’s “every sign” Flintoff’s losing his judgment and self control” – “what’s more worrying, from a medical view, is drinking to drown sorrows – as his latest bender suggests.”

Does it? To the untrained eye Flitnoff’s commandeering of a pedalo at 4am and setting sail on the Caribbean Sea suggests a man looking to put the tin lid on a boozy evening out with the lads. Are we now to view the boat trip as a cry for help? Was Flintoff trying to drown his sorrows, if not his greater self?

And can you drown in lager?

Picture: The Spine

Posted: 20th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)


Andrew Flintoff – From ShipFaced to Shamefaced

flintoff-drink.jpgFROM “SHIP FACED” to shamefaced, England cricketer Andrew Flintoff tells of “MY HURT”.

“FLINTOFF: MY SHAME,” says the headline. “I’M PAYING PRICE FOR HIGH JINKS.”

Not that high, though – this is no tale of England’s great all-rounder inhaling the local fumes. This is not Ian Botham and so much Hashes To Ashes in 1986.

This is not Botham, who tells the Sun: “I’m laughing. I find it all quite amusing.” Of course, Botham may find all manner of things amusing since those heady days of the mid-80s.

But Flintoff is not laughing. “I should not have done what I did and there are no excuses,” says he. “It was unnecessary high jinx and I have had to accept the consequences… All I can say is sorry.”

No laughing.

No laughing as Flintoff drinks amid team-mates and fans on the strip in St Lucia. No laughing as Flintoff pushes a pedalo into the sea at 4am and sets sail. No laughing as Flintoff falls off said pedalo.

You can imagine the stony-faced silence as England’s most recognisable and likeable player threatens to go down with his tiny canary yellow ship. How shocked the sober fans looking on much have been.

To prove just how serious this matter is, the Mirror, in an exclusive not altogether unlike the Sun’s exclusive, hears from one horrified England supporter. “I watched as my heroes disgraced themselves in a marathon drinking binge,” says he. “I’ve spent thousands on this trip…I’m absolutely sickened.”

That’s what you get for being in England’s self-styled Barmy Army. You get to feel sick.

“LEGLESS BEFORE WICKET,” says the headline. England players Jon Lewis (pictured dancing!), Ian bell (sitting!) and James Anderson (WIDE EYED”, as a flash gun explodes in his face) are fined and shamed.

But the headlines belong to Flintoff. This is the Mail’s “Shaming of Freddie”. This is Freddie who is now stripped of the vice-captaincy and left out of the England team that took on and beat the might of Canada.

Flintoff on front page and back page. Flintoff hugging the Mail for dear life as his pedalo bobs away…

Flintoff not laughing so hard that he threatens to burst a rib and swallow so much sea…

Posted: 19th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (4)


Freddie Flintoff’s Package Tour Cruise – Cricket World Cup

flintoff.jpgCRICKET’S World Cup is underway in the Caribbean and fans have been following the sunny and palm tree-shaded action.

For those of you without Sky TV, the illusion of looking at the action live can be maintained by banging a metal spoon on an upturned saucepan while looking at TV advertorials for tropical holidays.

But there is trouble in paradise. We talk not of England’s play – that was always going to be a side issue to the staple shots of women in bikini tops and conch shells – but of off-field antics.

“He’s full of shame. He said he can’t believe he’s done it,” says the New of The World’s source.

“He was out first ball in the game against New Zealand and has said he should have been focused on the next game. The team need to let their hair down once in a while but this was going too far.”

And England’s Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff would have gone further had the pedalo he’d commandeered at 4am, and after an 8-hour drinking session, not capsized.

Having consumed quantities of local tinctures and brews at Rumours club in St Lucia’s Rodney Bay – “Freddie was drinking beer as if it was going out of fashion” says a source – England’s all-rounder set out on the ocean wave.

“Freddie could have drowned out there,” says a source “close to Flintoff”. “It’s rough in that sea at night and it’s not particularly helpful if you’ve had plenty to drink.”

Readers learn: “He was out first ball in the game against New Zealand and has said he should have been focused on the next game. The team need to let their hair down once in a while but this was going too far.”

But let’s not be too hard on the lads. England’s players have days of spare time on their hands, often during Test matches as the match reaches a premature conclusion (see last Ashes series, a trigger for more England drinking).

As the NOTW reminds us, after England’s Ashes victory against Australia in 2005 Freddie and the team went on a “marathon drinking session and turned up drunk for their official reception at Downing Street the following day”. There was talk at the time of urinating in prime ministerial flowerbeds. When asked what he’d eaten, a red-eyed Freddie replied “a cigar”.

The hope is that England can return to those halcyon days. And on a fortnight’s package tour to the Caribbean, there is every chance they can…

Flintoff and Ian Bell were fined. Teammates Liam Plunkett, James Anderson and Jon Lewis were docked part of their match fee.

Posted: 18th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


The Ignorance Of Youth – Coleen Mcloughlin’s Wedding

beckham-wedding.jpgCOLEEN McLoughlin is too busy to marry her footballer.

When pressed on the issue of her marriage to Wayne Rooney, Wagtastic McLoughlin tells the Star: “I haven’t got time yet.”

But she finds time to go on to tell us, cryptically: “I didn’t know I was getting married in 2008. At the moment I’m just thinking of what I’m doing for my 21st.”

That is no small job, not for a Wag. And after that event Coleen tells us that she will plan when she’s to get married.

It is useful to remember how young Coleen is. And she may not have realised that marriage and her career can go hand in hand.

Many have tried it. And we urge Coleen to investigate the idea of inviting a glossy magazine to film and even pay for her nuptials.

It’s just an idea. But given Coleen’s breathless schedule, we believe it to be one she’d be wise to consider…

Posted: 16th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


Abigail Clancy Rides David Beckham’s Buzz

abigailclancy.jpgABIGAIL Clancy was the Wag who got England’s World Cup bid buzzing again when she became embroiled in a cocaine story.

Miss Clancy made us look at England’s striker Peter Crouch in an entirely new way.

Blessed with a “beanpole” physique and the kind of legs most often seen hanging from a flamingo’s nest, Peter had still managed to pull the leggy blonde.

And now things are looking up and up for Abigail. As the Star reports, the mo-del has landed a role on American telly.

Clancy is to star in a nine-part series called Diamonds In The Turf. It’s the tale of life in the Premier League. And Clancy plays the lead blonde.

As an insider tells us: “The show will aim to tell the story and will draw inspiration from the UK’s Footballers’ Wives, although it will be shot in mock documentary style.”

Footballers’ Wives was, as many rightly guessed, a fly-on-the-wall documentary made to look like a work of fiction.

It is not without interest that the Americans seek to add a new twist.

The action is centred on the LA Diamonds football/soccer team. Keen-eyed news watchers will spot how the show coincides with the arrival of David Beckham in California.

Soon it will be hard to spot where reality ends and fiction starts.

What odds that Clancy will meet Becks in the sunshine? And add a new twist to an old plot..?

Posted: 13th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (3)


The Wag Trade – Is Cassie Sumner For Real

the-wag-trade-is-cassie-sumner-for-real.jpgWAGS Boutique – the TV show no-one’s talking about – has introduced the world to Cassie Sumner.

But for a while it seemed that glamour model Cassie had not been introduced to a footballer.

Stories abounded that Cassie had never stepped out with Michael Essien, the Chelsea’s midfielder. The footballer stated that he and Cassie had never been a couple.

But now Cassie tells OK! that she did date the footballer. Says Cassie: “I think he didn’t want me to do the show so I think he thought that if he dumped men the show would drop me.”

But reality was not to overly impact on the reality TV show. Cassie was kept on.

Once a Wag always a Wag is Cassie’s motto.

And now the Wag is here to tell us why she and her footballer split. It turns out that Essien had been engaged to a girl back home in Ghana for five years.

Cassie tells us that when her footballer paid for her to take a trip to Spain last year he had “actually flown over his fiancee to stay with him”.

Is this other woman bitter that Cassie and not she is on the TV show? Should Cassie be transferred?

Cassie does not say. But she does wear a dress by Ben de Lisi and shoes by Dune.

Cassie says she and her footballer’s relationship “mean nothing now”. But would she have been in OK! without it?

Or is being Wag more a state of mind than a thing of reality?

Posted: 7th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comments (2)


Coleen McGloughlin & Wayne Rooney’s Score Drawers

coleen-mcgloughlin-wayne-rooneys-score-drawers.jpg“WAG Coleen McLoughlin is refusing to ask Wayne Rooney for a Hollywood-style prenup.”

So says the Sun, which seems to have got things the wrong way around. Surely if anyone should be suing for a prenuptial agreement it is McLoughlin’s footballer.

All the fairies were present when Coleen was born – not everyone can carry off a crocodile-skin bag injected with botox – but she still earns less than Wayne. And at just 21 years of age Coleen’s footballer has any big pay days ahead of him.

This is, of course, grossly unfair, an injustice. And in light of the recent move to place Wimbledon’s tennis playing women on an equal financial footing with the men, we urge Wags to be paid in line with their footballers.

It is not only the player who is transferred from club to club but so too the Wag, who is forced to find new outlets to shop in.

His career threatening injury is her career threatening injury. His defeat is her defeat.

“Now we have separate bank accounts,” says Coleen, “one for the house and stuff and then I have my own, which is nice because I don’t have to tell Wayne how much I’ve spent any more!”

But Coleen needs to keep her spending high, as befitting the Wag to a high-earning footballer. “I’ve bought things that I’ve thought weren’t worth what I paid for them, but if you’re enjoying them it doesn’t matter.”

As Coleen says in her latest tome, serialised in Now magazine: “The stereotype of the footballers’ wife or girlfriend seems to be all about bad taste, greed, Sunday paper kiss’n’tell stories and controversy as if our daily lies are some kind of over-the-top soap opera.”

But it is not about auld prostitutes, shopping, gold, crocodile-skin bags that cost over £1,000 and more shopping. It is about hard work. Coleen has written a book. And she has released a keep-fit DVD.

Coleen has met a footballer…

Posted: 6th, March 2007 | In: Back pages | Comment


Wag & Bob’s Tale

nicola-t.jpg“WHEN you’re sat in Row Z and the ball hits your head that’s Zamora…”

Bobby Zamora may not be the Premier League’s sharpest shooter but that doesn’t stop Nicola T pinning her hopes on the West Ham striker giving her the babies she craves.

“When the crowd sing his name it gives me the tingles,” says 24-year-old Nicola, speaking in the Sun’s article “I want to have Bobbie’s babies”.

Oh, the tingle of expectation, the frisson of the unexpected when Zamora gets the ball. That’s Amore.

And Bobby is romantic. Says Nicola: ““He’s lavished endless amounts of diamonds and designer dresses on me — but he once bought me something priceless which really proves he loves me.”

Oh?

“I was at a photoshoot and got an excruciating pain. I went to the doctors and they discovered I had growths the size of golf balls around my ovaries.”

So what did Bobby do?

“There was a chance I could have lost my ovaries completely. The doctors wanted to operate immediately but it was going to cost £3,000. Bobby said, ‘We want babies one day so go and get it done.’”

So there are babies on the way. Is Nicole pregnant?

“Days later he gave me a beautiful Rolex watch — but it was his love and support that counted.”

Indeed. This from Nicole who once said: “We Page 3 girls make our living from our personalities as well as our looks. I love Bobby because he’s Bobby, not because he is a footballer.”

Which given his ability on the pitch is lucky…  It’s Amore…

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


Coleen McLoughlin’s Footballers’ Wives Documentary

COLEEN McLoughlin wants to tell you something.

“Tell someone you go out with a Premiership footballer and a lot of people immediately draw conclusions about the type of girl you are,” says the whale-voiced Wag to Wayne Rooney’s footballer.

Coleen goes on: “It’s all about the money, they say. It’s about designer labels and jewellery, flash cars and champagne. It’s about fame.” Coleen concludes that “TV’s Footballer’s Wives has a lot to answer for”.

But surely at the heart of every stereotype lies a kernel of truth? While we agree with Coleen that not all footballer’s Wags are called Chardonnay or Cristal – we know of a Cheryl, a Coleen and a Victoria – Footballers’ Wives just lampooned the passion for material goods and fame.

And when we learn that Coleen and her footballer used to watch the show when it was on we fear that Coleen misunderstood and saw it as documentary, a how to guide to Wagdom.

But that was not all Coleen saw. She recalls the time when aged 16, she and Wayne were on their way out. They asked Wayne’s mum to record the hit show. She did. And when Coleen and Wayne returned they took up the pads and pencils, pressed play and got down to some hard study.

And then something still harder popped up as the show ended and a porn video grunted into life. To the Star this is “COLEEN PORN MOVIE SHOCK”.

The paper says that Wayne’s brother had “slipped the blue movie” on the end of the episode.

Say Coleen: “The programme finished and the next thing we knew we were staring at some porn video… Next thing Wayne ran into his brother’s bedroom and started whacking him round the head with the tape. Wayne’s brother had stitched us up.”

Boys of a certain age may well sympathise with Wayne’s brother. How he must have roared with delight to discover his porn film – the one he’d left in the video recorder – had been recorded over. What a hoot. And then your pugilistic brother runs in and smacks you in the head with the tape. Well, that puts the tin lid on truly great joke.

But back to Coleen. She’s on a boat, relaxing after the exertions of watching the World Cup. Coleen and her footballer are sailing round the south of France in a 100ft yacht.

“I could go on holiday every week of the year,” says Coleen. “But the work commitments I have, and with Wayne only getting a certain amount of time off when the season’s finished, it’s not possible.”

Who still says being a Wag is all plain sailing…

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


Coleen McLoughlin Relives The Auld Days


coleen mcloughlin relives the auld daysMORE exerts from Wayne Rooney’s February 19 2007 autobiography as girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin tells all.

The Mirror has given over its cover and two pages to Coleen. These are her words taken from her autobiography.

There on the Mirror’s front page is Coleen. Speaking in a voice detectable only by whales and the Mirror’s hacks, Liverpudlian Coleen is in revealing mood.

Dressed in a V-neck sweater and little else, Coleen says: “When the story came out about Wayne and the prostitutes my life was suddenly turned upside down.”

In an instant we are back in Wayne’s formative footballing years as the tyro, then at Everton, spends a portion of his wages wooing Auld Slapper, a grandmother.

And quickly comes a revelation. Says Coleen: “The truth is…at that time I‘d never even slept with Wayne.”

The news of Wayne’s, alleged, dalliance with the elderly prostate hits Coleen hard. She turns to her Auntie Tracy and Uncle Shaun.

She wonders how she’s going to tell her “nan and granddad”. How will they react? Will one of them know Wayne’s wrinkly happy-smiling masseuse from the Post Office on pension day or bingo. Will nan give Wayne the eye and granddad grow watchful and, in time, resentful?

Auntie Tracy convinces the then 16-year–old Coleen to sort it out. She calls Wayne. He comes over. Words are said. Wayne and Coleen remain at Tracy’s for two weeks.

And now Coleen is in a quandary. These are two tense weeks of a young life. How much should she tell us now and how much should she save for later autobiographies.

She should avoid empathising with Wayne, thereby removing the danger of stealing material from his next autobiography.

Coleen decides on a course of action. She will not relive the entire two weeks at Auntie Tracy’s, only some key moments.

On the first night, Coleen and Wayne are sitting in Tracy’s front room. “I didn’t know whether I wanted to be with Wayne or not,” confides Coleen.

So what does she do? Does she stay with him? She tells Wayne of her uncertainties. “All Wayne kept repeating was how sorry he was.”

Coleen resists the urge, which must be considerable, to fill the nest chapter with the word “Sorry” said over and over and over. This she leaves to Wayne.

Instead she tells us that after a few days, they went to Manchester shopping. Another time they went to Blackpool Pleasure beach. They wore hats.

The rest is for another time. Another book…

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