Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rest In Peace, George

Quite special earlier this evening watching Sky Sports showing the ceremonies at Old Trafford. United are, as I write, leading West Brom 2- 0, and, fittingly, number 7, Ronaldo, scored the first goal.

I'm too young to remember him playing (honestly); but at work today, I was reminded that George Best played three games for the now-defunct club Cork Celtic in the League of Ireland. Read more here: one thing that this article does not mention is the strong rumour that George was offered strong financial incentive to play for the club.

I think it's quite important to understand the context of the previous week's events: the death of George Best invites us all to directly compare the game of football in 1968 with 2005; there are the obvious issues of television coverage, players' wages, money, and the related changing economics of the sport; but to the hardcore United fans (and I admit I am not one of these), it also makes the Glazer takeover slightly harder to bear.

Frankly, the boardroom events this summer mark an important watershed in the club's history; the club has been taken over by a family who seem to have no real interest in the game for the game's sake, or for the fans' sake; one good thing about the ceremony this evening was that the Glazer family were nowhere to be seen. If any of them had turned up on the pitch with the 1968 legends, they would have been booed off by the fans.

I confess . . .

Jamie has tagged me with the Confiteor meme, so here goes:

I confess that I am a Manchester United fan, but I have never visited the grave of Liam Whelan, although I could walk to it in less than half an hour.

I confess that I once got Lester Piggott's autograph, and I have lost it!!

I confess that years ago I started reading St Louis Marie de Montfort's Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, but stopped about a quarter way through.

I confess that I have dozens of books on the shelves which I have not read.

I confess that, on the evening of April 2nd this year, I was in an Edinburgh hotel and watching TV and following the news; I turned on Ceefax, saw the Newsflash, and my first thought was disappointment; because it meant that I wouldn't get to see him again on my trip to Rome in September.

I confess that, if I was watching the Cheltenham Festival on the box next March, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup was about to start, and if the phone rang and if it was Papa Benedetto asking for my advice on something, I would probably say: "Er, sorry Your Holiness, but can I call you back?"

I confess that I am inspired by Marxist philosophy; that is, the philosophy of Groucho, Chico & Harpo!

I confess that I have travelled around Scotland; Stranraer, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen, John o'Groats, Orkney Islands, Skye, Iona, Fort William, Melrose, Kelso, Stirling, Oban, but I have never been to St Andrews.

There. Any tabloid newspapers want to put me on the front page now??

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This might make you think for a few seconds

This is from a blog by a Magistrate in the South-East of England; his nom-de-plume is Bystander, but I don't know his real name.

Here he writes about a trip to a jail, which is interesting, especially the bit about the chapel.

Belated birthday greetings to The Maestro

I should have posted this on November 5th, but better late than never.

On 5th November 1935, he was born, in Wantage, England.

When he rode his first winner, Harry Truman was in the White House.

The figures speak for themselves: thirty English classics and Champion Jockey umpteen times on the flat in Britain; to be honest I don't know the exact number.

And what is most remarkable I feel was the longevity of his career. He was a fresh-faced teenager when he rode his first winner, and he was a grandfather when he won his last Classic on Rodrigo De Triano.

There are so many stories about him I can't repeat them here, because, like all legendary figures, there's no guarantee the stories are really true.

And, like all of us, he was a combination of saint and sinner; he has paid his debt to society as a guest of Her Majesty, an experience he describes in his autobiography as "just a waste of time".

But I remember the night when I was once in the same room as him; he was receiving a lifetime achievement award from a group of racing enthusiasts, and I will never forget the beaming smile on his face, which would have belied his usual stone-faced image that most people know him for.

So, here goes. Everybody join me in saying: "Happy Birthday, Lester Keith Piggott".