Category Archives: Sport

A game that’s been rotting for ages

Footballers seem to be getting it in the neck during these coronavirus days. Some are prepared to take a wage cut; others aren’t.

When some of them earn (?get?) as much in a week as some people get in a lifetime, it’s hardly surprising there’s a difference of opinion.

But what does anyone say about the poor supporter? Nothing much. At least, nothing much that’s worth listening to.

There are 22 players on the pitch, trying to win a game between 11 and 11. And there’s a referee and at least two other ‘officials’. Yet there could be as many as 55,000 watching on from the stands, and no one seems to listen to them.

Footballers are both sportsmen and entertainers. But to be paid what they are to entertain as many as 55,000 is absurd. It’s out of all proportion. A man or boy on the terraces can only dream of the riches afforded to one of his favourite players. Yet he – or even she – gets no voice at all.

It has ever been thus, sadly. Footballers have always been heroes, doing something that the rest of us wish we could do.

But surely, in these straightened times, the players could remember what they are doing? Playing a game so that others can watch them, not taking home wads of cash for a comparatively easy week’s work. They should think about what it must be like to be a toolmaker, or to work on a production line doing the same thing hour after hour.

Then, perhaps, we might see something that hasn’t been rotted by money, and a game that is played for its own sake not for wads of cash.

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A question of greatness

This morning all the world’s media was, rightly so and as I expected, full of the news of Andy Murray’s triumph in the Men’s Singles competition at Wimbledon.

There’s no doubt that his is an exceptional achievement – the first Briton to win the title for 77 years – and he deserves our congratulations.

Not only has he fulfilled a personal dream, he has relieved the nation of the ancient burden of hope – so often wrecked by despair – that it’s borne for three-quarters of a century.

As a result – and it is a great result – we can all share his joy.

But to liken his triumph to that of England winning the FIFA World Cup in 1966 or the Rugby World Cup in 2003?

This seems fanciful at best, hubristic at worst. And it questions the nature of greatness.

Clearly, Andy Murray competes in a fiercely contested one-on-one sport. Self-evidently he has a superb support team of trainers, dieticians and the like. Obviously, he’s good at what he does.

But the fact that is he is not the first Briton to have won Wimbledon’s supreme men’s prize, only the first for a long time, should mute the clamour of adulation and attention he’s received since Sunday evening.

He’s not, like Bradley Wiggins, the very first Briton to win the gruelling competition of his choice: the Tour de France, now in its 100th edition.

For me, Wiggins’s is a far greater achievement.

Andy Murray is undoubtedly a great tennis player and, for the time being at least, a national hero.

But for me, there is no questioning the fact that Bradley Wiggins has the edge, for he has no precedent.

There never was another Briton before him – not an Englishman, a Welshman, a Scot or an Ulsterman – who had ever won the Tour de France in all its 110 years of history.

Andy Murray has achieved greatness. But he wasn’t the first Briton ever to win Wimbledon.

Bradley Wiggins’s greatness lies in the fact that he was – and forever will be – the first Briton to win the Tour de France.

That is true greatness.

Chapeau, Sir Brad!

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