Sometimes real life can be stranger than fiction.
Even before suggestions that someone might have said something to Andy Murray shortly before the start of the match with the Bulgarian, Grigor Dimitrov, a close acquaintance of mine (who had lived and worked in Bulgaria for a few years and was extremely familiar with the Russian Mafia's influence in the area) jokingly remarked, "Meester Murree. You WILL lose dees metch."
Sometimes real life can be stranger than fiction.
Yesterday, I made the observation that Manchester United F.C. sacked their manager, Tommy Docherty, in 1977 for having an extramarital affair. In 2014, they entrust the management of the club to a man who had a long-term adulterous relationship with his brother's wife.
How times change!
Now, the owners have made themselves seem even more out of touch with reality by appointing another person who has absolutely no experience in management.
Frying pans and fires come to mind.
As someone who spent the best part of ten years involved in the administration of two of the finest golf clubs in the west of Scotland in the seventies and eighties (at a time, by the way, when equal opportunities was an issue), I'm becoming increasingly weary of hearing assorted knee-jerk reactions to the controversy which has been generated by the choice of Muirfield for the recent Open golf tournament.
In one of the more recent outbursts, by suggesting that men-only golf clubs are 'stupid', the young lady-golfer could be accused of not being very smart herself. Her statement, "We're all people and no one is better than anyone else." implies that those who support men-only clubs have made such an audacious claim; which, of course is ridiculous. They do, however understand that men and women are different - as is recognised by the often ignored fact that there are women-only clubs (such as Formby Ladies Golf Club).
Furthermore, golf clubs are not alone in recognising that differences exist. The Womens' Institute, for example, who don't have male members (no pun intended), or The National Black Police Association who are unlikely to have many (if any) white members. However, as I have mentioned before, by far the strongest supporters for the retention of men-only golf-clubs were the members wives.
Almost exactly forty years ago, I was involved in establishing the Golf Club Stewards' Association's first representation at The Open Golf Championship. So far as I can recall, that particular tournament was held at Birkdale and, although I could only manage a single day's visit myself, my younger son stayed with my parents (who were living in Southport at that time) and he attended every day assisting in one way or another.
Subsequently, over the following seven or eight years, both my sons, some of their friends, and I spent the whole week at various Open venues acting as 'resident caretakers' - sleeping in my VW camper-van or in the tent itself. For many of us, those weeks would become amongst the most memorable of our lives. In 1977, for example, my younger son became friendly with Jack Nicklaus's son who was staying in The Turnberry Hotel and, for my part, at golf courses such as St. Andrews or Lytham St. Annes, I've rubbed shoulders with more famous golfers and personalities than I care to remember.
In the early days, we pretty much had to erect the tent and set out the tables, chairs, and bar facilities ourselves (see above - left) and, to be honest, much of the tented village was cobbled together in a rather casual manner (above - right). In time, however, the administration of the tented village become more 'professional' and, by comparison with the early years a more regimented style has been adopted (see below).
Over the years, although the powers-that-be at The R & A had (to some extent) turned a blind eye to the somewhat cavalier methods employed by the stewards (a lot of what was sold had been donated by suppliers and all the bar-staff were unpaid volunteers), it was impossible to deny they were at odds with the commercially motivated methods which were employed by almost everyone else in the tented village. So, when the R & A decided to franchise the administration of the tented village to a commercial events specialist; who, for a variety of commercial reasons, were not prepared to be quite so sympathetic to the stewards and, sadly, the aforementioned forty years association with the event has come to an end and there is no Golf Club Stewards' association tent at this year's Open. AMEN.
Bearing in mind the village is far larger than shown in this photo of this years event at Muirfield (above), it gives some idea of how large the operation has become.
It might be supposed that the antipathy which has existed between supporters of the two premier Merseyside football clubs over the years; aggravated, to a large extent, by the animosity that the previous manager at Old Trafford created between his club and Liverpool Football Club might persuade me to be indifferent about the Everton Football Club's manager's move along The East Lancashire Road. Strangley, however, David Moyes seems to be a decent man; so, I wish him all the best in his new appointment.
Watching tennis at Queens, I'm wondering whether the powers to be in the game might take the bull by the horns (as it were) and address an increasing tendency for players to 'bend the rules. I'm referring, by the way, to the fact that towels are requested from the ball-boys/girls - often between every single point - and stopping take a drink between each change-over of ends. Neither of these practices (so far as I'm aware) are allowed under the rules of the game.
Insofar as golf is concerned, on the other hand, the recent decision to ban putters which are 'anchored' to some part of the body - and this despite the fact that a blind eye has been turned to it the best part of twenty years - is, IMHO, a brave - though well overdue - decision. So, it would be interesting to see if the tennis authorities could display the same courage shown by their golfing companions.
After all each game requires balls.
In wishing David Moyes all the very best in his new appointment, it's interesting to reflect how many Scottish managers spent some time at Preston North End on their way to (allegedly) bigger and better things. There may be more; but the ones who spring to mind are Matt Busby and Bill Shankly; both of whom also spent time in Liverpool - but on the opposite side of the park to Moyes.
Although it's no secret that, in recent times, I have become increasingly disenchanted with association football, up until now, my disapproval has been directed towards the players and their constant cheating. However, it has occurred to me that there are other elements within the game (it used to be a sport, remember) who are equally responsible.
The administrators, for example, despite their efforts to conceal the facts, have - with increasing and alarming regularity - been guilty of bribery and, equally disturbing, seem unwilling to take advantage of goal-line technology, or other modern features which are used in several sports (rugby, tennis, motor-racing, or cricket, for example) to address the aforementioned cheating and other issues.
More about that later, perhaps; but what concerns me, at the moment, are supporters - or fans, as they are sometimes called; and, in that respect, it's important, IMHO, to recognise that there is a difference between one and the other. For example - as was my own experience - where a person was born determined which team they support. In other words - to some extent - a supporter is chosen by his/her team.
Generally speaking, however, fans choose who they support - irrespective of where they were born; and. since 'fan' is an abbreviation of the word 'fanatic', they are frequently far more fervent in the manner in which they express their 'support' than indigenous supporters.
As is the case with well-known supporter of Manchester United (see video), rather than enjoy the comfort afforded by the stands, they prefer to mix with others of their ilk in areas once referred to as pens. Since the Hillsborough disaster, these enclosures have also been fitted with seats; a somewhat pointless exercise (some might say) because very few in these areas actually sit during a match.
"Have a nice day."
Putting that aside, however, what especially concerns me about (so-called) fans is that their behaviour is no better - and, often, a lot worse - than the players. Obscene gestures, sectarian or racist chanting, and foul language clearly intended to disturb players from the opposing side is commonplace these days - especially when corners or throw-ins are being taken.
Even women and young children can be seen acting no better than many of the drunken louts who surround them and I would venture to suggest that this - probably more than anything else - is what distinguishes soccer fans from almost all other sports; in particular rugby union, where - despite the fact that alcohol is freely available - supporters are usually good humoured and well-behaved.
An interesting observation from Des Lynam following the Suarez biting incident:-
"What the cameras failed to show us was the actual injury to the Ivanovic arm. The main reason being that if there was one, it was so minor as not to be visible. A friend’s ageing terrier would have done more damage and she has no teeth left. It has been noticeable that the Chelsea defender has made no fuss since and has accepted an apology from Suárez."
Here's the full article:- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/liverpool/10021302/A-flawed-genius-like-Luis-Suarez-is-still-a-genius-says-Des-Lynam.html
Remarkably - on the evidence of the condition of the windscreen of the vehicle which hit him - the Sale rugby union player, Danny Cipriani, will still be considered for selection for a match next week.
"He's a lucky boy." they said.
Had the same thing happened to a Premier League football diva, it's quite likely that he would still be rolling around, clutching a part of his body which hadn't been touched, and demanding a red card for the bus driver. Danny, however, (after his release from hospital) tweeted, "My ribs are a bit sore and I feel as though I've been hit by a bus."