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In a recent repeat of Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson introduced someone he claimed to be the worlds most anonymous pop star, Brian Johnson of AC-DC, who went on to post a modest lap in the reasonably priced car. I am clueless about music – though I admit to having heard of AC-DC – so I must bow the Clarkson’s claim.
It became apparent that Mr Johnson’s anonymity was the result of a carefully conceived and indeed wonderfully refreshing policy. However there is a big story in sport that remains stubbornly subterranean. Wigan Warriors are 4 points clear at the top of the ‘Super League’, that’s Rugby League to those of you brought up on Uncle Eddie Waring and the dark satanic mills of Leigh.
Why is it a big story? Well if you are a Wigan supporter like me it is obviously not only big but long overdue – and indeed quite worrying since past seasons have only served to disappoint. Wigan have been in sad decline for a number of years; after an incomparable 8 year spell of domination Wigan’s power waned and then slumped as the salary cap took its grip.
Chelsea must hope Michel Platini does not read this blog.
Inevitably there is an Australian coach at the heart of the club’s revival, although previous coach Brian Noble will be hoping that all his 4 years of groundwork will not go unnoticed. But step by step, overcoming one bad Australian signing after another Wigan have finally found not only the right blend but have also uncovered an unnervingly great and precocious talent at stand-off.
I say unnerving because Sam Tompkin’s form this season has been a revelation and one hesitates to lay down a hostage to fortune by predicting a glittering future for this young man. Even as we speak another dramatic star from the start of Wigan’s season, Aboriginal winger Amos Roberts languishes with a knee injury. Previous injuries and loss of form cruelly hamstrung his promising early career which was gloriously resurrected as Wigan blasted their early season authority on the Super League.
But why is it being studiously avoided by sports editors everywhere? Rugby league is a great game – I defy anyone to suggest otherwise – but in the list of priorities of the nationals it hardly ranks at all. Topping the ladder by a remarkable 4 points is no fluke by Wigan and there are personal stories aplenty to delight even the most hardened hack. But rugby league doggedly continues to to be the poor relation. Shame on a blinkered and ignorant press who are as happy as ever to roll out their preconceived prejudices.
PS: Back to Top Gear – Johnson also pointed out that his band’s music played an important part in sustaining and ultimately rescuing the helicopter pilot of ‘Blackhawk Down’ fame. As he said it was a nice story. Reader’s will guess the same trick would not work for me – although projecting a video of Brett Kenny’s try in the ’85 Cup Final just might.
I suppose billionaires are entitled to their whims. But ought an African billionaire to be investing in an English football club?
Surely an African billionaire can find worthwhile whims in his own beleaguered continent before reaching out to poor undernourished Arsenal. He hardly promotes support for our own much criticised and pressurised development budget.
Although his actions are probably not as damaging as say India’s space programme, or Tata’s closure of Redcar.
Tory backwoodsmen are getting terribly exercised about allowing ministers into the meetings of the 1922 Committee. I take the Groucho Marx view of institution, but that aside, it seems the last time we had a coalition, once again of course at a time on national crisis, Churchill also arranged for ministers to be allowed in. It did not seem to dilute the war effort, although the resulting election does not say much for the advice backbenchers gave him.
Now if Cameron had inveigled Clegg in to the meetings …
Slowly but surely the numbers throwing their hats into the ring for the tarnished but still faintly glittering prize of the Labour Party leadership are creeping up
Soon it may reach a magnificent seven …
And that has got me thinking – well, yes, something has to – about how strikingly similar these candidates are to the characters from that iconic movie.
We can see favourite Dave Miliband as leader ‘Chris’; although he has more hair than Yul Brynner (at the moment) he does share a slightly exotic foreign background.
Diane Abbott could fill in for Horst Buchholz as ‘Chico’. Its not that she is suitably dusky, it more like as it turned out for Buchholz her best days are probably behind her before she ever got going.
We can be sure that Ed Balls fancies himself as Charles Bronson playing rugged ‘Bernado’, though many will think that his decision to stand will turn out to be a death wish.
John McDonnell could pass for James Coburn as ‘Britt’, (well at least in his later years) and there is nothing McDonnell would like better than to throw his knife into the heart of New Labour.
Ed Miliband could play the Robert Vaughan part, ‘Lee’. He is of course fresh from playing the man from uncle Gordon and he shares the same thick mane of glossy hair; but we must hope he does not end his career playing a con man.
Finally there is , err, Andy Burnham. He must be a shoo in for ‘Harry Luck’, played by … by … yes … you know, that bloke whose name no one ever remembers.
Sadly, sadly, sadly, there is no name on the ballot paper with any charisma, with any star quality. No one with box office. None of the contenders does ‘cool’. No one likely to lead Labour to a great escape.
As we all know, Labour’s answer to Steve McQueen rode off into the sunset in 2007, well in fact unceremoniously railroaded onto the last stagecoach out of town by the only man in politics fit to match the incomparable Eli Walach in playing the evil leering sneering sociopath ‘Calvera’.