I REALISED that The Da Vinci Code didn’t measure up to the “speaking
in tongues” of our sportswriting fellowship when my attention was drawn
to the fact that the most frequently quoted words in the nation’s
sports pages (‘The manager has the full support of the board’) could be
readily reassembled as ‘A shame to read: “Flop! The Push for That
Bungler!”’ Check it out. I’m right, no? All that has stood between a
variety of turnip-head England managers and football’s Holy Grail since
Sir Alf and a dog called Pickles stumbled on the champion’s chalice
back in 1966 has been the double-edged sword wielded by Fleet Street’s
Most Fickle, our boys in the press box.
So with the World Cup
kicking off this weekend, I have prepared Banksy’s cut-out-and-keep
Duffer’s Guide to Football Jargon to enable newspaper executives not
familiar with the language of the Games Desk to understand what the
hell their organ’s particular “Voice of Sport” is rabbiting on about.
1. TWO-FOOTED: A footballer’s minimum physical requirement.
2. SET OUR STALL OUT EARLY: If possible, we’ll kick off while the opposition is still in the tunnel.
3. EARLY DOORS: Glenn Hoddle’s bedtime.
4. I DID NOT SEE THE INCIDENT: Yes, my centre-back committed an horrendous foul.
5. HOW THE REF DIDN’T SEE IT I DO NOT KNOW: Amazingly, I DID see that one!
6. ALL CREDIT TO THE LADS: We scrambled a lucky draw.
7. THE BOYS DONE GREAT: We won.
8. THE REFEREE HAD A VERY POOR GAME: We lost.
to editors: lookout for two increasingly popular political clichés: 1.
UNFIT FOR PURPOSE: The beaten and broken ex-England manager.
2. CAN’T WE DRAW A LINE AND MOVE ON? The bemused and soon-to-be-broken new England manager.
CLAIM intellectual copyright — but waive the fee — for News
International’s idea to bulk up foreign sales of The Times by printing
copies on the New York Post’s presses for the East Coast market.
was the idea born? Around 1990, when as deputy editor of The
Australian, I hatched a plot to fax a dozen ad-free pages of The Oz
final editions from Sydney to London to be run on Times presses during
afternoon downtime at Wapping and distributed to what would be — on any
given day — hundreds of thousands of resident and travelling
Australians in Greater London.
Nothing came of it, but I’m sure I
must have spilled the idea over a drunken lunch to my old mate, Les
Hinton, chairman of News International. Another lunch might get you
another Banks Brainwave, Les… either that or I’ll offer my research
notes to Alan Oakley, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. After all,
what would work for The Australian via The Times would work just as
well for the SMH courtesy of, say, The Daily Telegraph… and park the
tanks of Rupert’s Aussie rival on The Thunderer’s lawn!