Row Z edition 26; dateline 31 October 08
Standing on the handlebars of giants
Elsewhere in this edition of TLR you will be able to see and hear from Dave Brailsford, the “man behind no fewer than eight British gold medals in Beijing”. We hate to cavil when hard-working and talented people who would normally be overlooked get deserved heaps of praise but the deification of Dave is getting a little overdone. The boy done good; but so did the rest of the coaching, sports science and support team and lest we forget they are all standing on the shoulders of the giant Peter Keen who set the bike wheels rolling to success. And speaking of Lord Brailsford, apparently he went slightly off-message at the YST conference and suggested that funding be given only to successful sports and only to those parts of those sports that delivered medals. Quite what host Steve Grainger, funders Sport England and colleagues who run British Cycling’s Everyday Cycling initiative thought of this remains unrecorded.
Overtime at Olympic Towers
Be warned, gentle reader, Sideliner has got the Little Baron in his sights. And not because the blessed Seb has sold his services to Chicago’s 2016 bid. Mind you, since you mention it, where is he finding the time? At Row Z we are all for a little nest-feathering – and have we told you how Lucozade Sport aids recovery after exercise? – but when you are playing the martyr card and trying to convince everyone you’ll be working non-stop until the last athlete has left the 2012 arena (and then doing a spot of litter-picking) taking consultancy work elsewhere is a little rich. No, our own midfield general is taking issue with Coe’s continued baseless assertion that “track and field is everyone’s second favourite sport”. He can say what he likes, of course, but when people believe him, bad things happen. Bad things like Ms Ohuruogu – a drugs cheat (see Row Z passim) – being placed front and centre of the medallists’ London parade and subsequent front pages. And bad things like athletics not getting its 2012 funding cut after a miserable showing in Beijing. The more the pampered prima donnas of field and track take from the pot, the less will be available for the unsung and under-resourced protagonists in the less feted Olympic sports.
Seat by the fire? Book early
Excellent news for all culture vultures in the kirk with the announcement that The Leisure Review Christmas Conference will be held again this year in Oxford on 12th December. The editor and staff would like to invite all readers – and there are more than 2,500 of you that read us regularly – to join us in the city of dreaming spires for a day of heritage trailing, cultural assimilation and keen topical debate. Subscribers will, of course, take precedence when seats by the fire are being allocated but when the limited number of places available on what has been described as “the single most enlightening experience of my working life” are gone, they’re gone.
Were any other North Britons flummoxed by Wycombe Wanderers’ inability to complete their allotted ninety minutes of ball-kicking, play-acting and complaining due to a light smattering of snow this week? Wanderers – not long since proud purveyors of authentic (non-league) footer – have clearly been made soft by rubbing shoulders with the effete – sorry elite; no, effete – members of the Football League. We had a man at the game but despite sporting a Motsonesque sheepskin car-coat his teeth are still chattering so we are left to quote Wycombe’s ‘gaffer’ Peter Taylor who reckons: “But it may have got dangerous – the vision had started to worsen and we had already got the orange balls out.” Make mine a double entendre!
A consonant please, Carol
Disingenuity is a difficult word to use accurately but it fits like a glove around the justification made by Arsenal FC after Mayor Boris attacked all five London Premier League football clubs for under-paying their menials. The flaxen-haired former Bullingdon Club member has branded as immoral organisations who pay less than something called the ‘London living wage’. The Arsenal response went something along the lines of they already keep their permanent staff above the poverty line but are not responsible for the part-time workers in the Emirates catering and cleaning operations, which are contracted-out services. Not that we care about what happens in either football or London but when nobs like Johnson – and other Bullingdon old boys like Cameron and Osborne – start bleating on about poverty levels while living as high on the hog as only old Etonians can, the word required isn’t ‘disingenuity’, its ‘hypocrisy’. Or ‘bastards’, of course.
The view from the back of the stand
The Leisure Review, November 2008
Above and below: just some of the cultral treasures on offer at Christmas