Friday, 10 July 2009

Great Summer of Sport

It was Nick Hornby in "Fever Pitch" (although it might have been Ian Rankin in "Set in Darkness" - I forget now) who memorably observed how sterile and dull "odd summers" are.

By odd summers are meant the summers of years which are odd numbers. The problem with them is there is no international football competition. In the 2006, 2010 et seq. cycle it's the World Cup and in 2008, 2012 et seq. it's the European Championships.

Of the two, I must say I prefer the Euro Champs because you know you're going to get straight into decent stuff like Croatia v Belgium in the first round. But with the World Cup there are such unedifying spectacles as USA v South Korea to be endured before the wheat is separated from the chaff and you get into the Latin America - Europe head to head of the second and subsequent stages.

One of the good things about being British is that - uniquely in the whole world - we get four shots at qualifying for these football competitions due being able to submit four teams - England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ... what's the other one ? I forget. England usually qualifies, the other ones usually don't. But no matter, I'm just proud to be from a country with such an inbuilt advantage!

Anyway, in the odd summer of 2009 there is, of course, still tennis to be enjoyed. Bit of a disappointment about little Murray at Wimbles. Looks like he's heading down that great corridor of fame of "plucky British loser" lining up to be awarded the Eddy the Eagle medal (with oak leaves and bar) to be personally presented by Tim Henman and the ski-ing chap (he was in the year above me at school - still can't remember his name - Graham somebody, although that might have been his brother).

But seriously, I didn't care for the cut of little Roddick's jib at all - eyes too close together. I was mightily relieved when the doughty Roger finally prevailed. And I like the RF cardigan - it's in the same mould as Basil Fawlty's jacket in the Irish Builders episode:-

And the Duke of Kent must have been even more relieved that horrid Nadal wasn't there this year climbing up the woodwork and waving flags - that sort of thing might be all very well in the United States of America but you do NOT get up to that sort of stunt at Wimbledon in the presence of the British royal family. (You could tell that Crown Prince Felipe was embarrassed on the Duke's behalf.)

Anyway, the tennis is behind us and we have the ecstasy of golf to look forward to. There is just nothing more woody than the British Open being played on a Scottish links course - Turnberry this year. Coverage by the BBC, Peter Alliss commentating, "Ooh - up she goes - tickle it round behind, I say, Sir!", the "woof-woof" sound of the gale blowing past the microphones - the point of the Open is it's better in bad weather! Trousers rippling in the wind, umbrellas blowing inside out. Starts next Thursday and I can't wait.

It's even better when Portuguese Sport TV doesn't cut to beach volleyball at 4pm on the Sunday afternoon and graciously returns to the Open just for the presentation of the trophy. Give me STRENGTH!

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