Row Z edition 27; dateline 5 December 2008

In Hoggard veritas
It will surprise very few people with even a passing interest in cricket to learn that Yorkshire and England’s Boris Johnson look-a-like Matthew Hoggard likes a pint of real ale. So ingrained is his love for the products of Sam Smith’s, John Smith’s and Marston’s breweries that he has gone into print in the Winter edition of the Campaign for Real Ale’s  new magazine, the elegantly titled ‘Beer’. The article, under his own byline, is worth the £22 it costs to join CAMRA alone as he lays about him like a tail-ender trying to prove that attack is the only form of defence. Into the long grass go lager, drunken supporters, king prawns and lollo rosso but his essential philosophy of sport and indeed life is summed up beautifully in his final par: “You need a brain to play cricket and rugby. It might sound like sour grapes and I do like a kick around as much as the next man, but there just isn’t the same requirement to play football. It’s opportunistic athleticism – and it’s got the lager thing going on as well. Three pints of Stella and there’s a scene.”

Managing for Britain

Sadly the Little Baron has managed to draw Sideliner’s ire once again this month. While the dear old soul petitions TLR’s editor for a separate column reserved solely for reports from the hubris factory that is London 2012, the work experience lass informs us that Milord Coe’s latest faux pas has been talking to Sir Alex Ferguson about taking charge of the Great Britain Olympic soccer team – if the blazer-led political nonsense surrounding our round ball challenge for medals can be resolved. Galling as this ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ style of recruitment is, the truly aggravating bit is Coe’s reported assertion that: “He is a phenomenal coach and a great man-manager.” No, Seb. He employs phenomenal coaches and he is a bully. 

Catch and drive: putting your oar in properly
The good people at Leisure Industry Week are issuing an open invitation to comment on this year’s event. As Row Z had snuck in the back door on the first day of the NEC-based event back in September, we detailed the marketing director off to fill in the form and she reckoned: “That was fun. I had no idea there was so many sets of initials in this industry.” She won’t be with us long. Passing swiftly over that particular young lady’s career challenges, Sideliner does urge you to brave the LIW mega-site, find the form and fill it in – if you want to see an independent, all-encompassing industry event in the calendar that is. People wondering what to think about it all should read this excellent article in the October issue of The Leisure Review.

Camping for beginners
Clearly UK Athletics new broom Charles Van Commenee has to be more than the self-regarding bully he seems to be from this side and the news that even before starting work he has made a bid for this column’s Sycophant of the Year Award indicates he adds low cunning to his other talents. His nomination follows his attempt to ingratiate himself with the Little Baron, a bevy of other former runners and the Sun reader on the Number 43 bus by the expedient of inviting “some of Britain's greatest distance runners to help nurture the stars for 2012”. Putting Milord Coe, Paula Radcliffe, Dave Bedford, Steve Cram, Brendan Foster and Liz McColgan in a room in Monaco and calling them an “endurance advisory group” is as clear a case as you will ever see of someone erecting their own tent and hoping their critics piss out of it. So he’s not as daft as those spectacles make him look.

Rolling out the mardy Manxman
Row Z stands four-square behind Lord David Brailsford’s apparently doomed campaign to challenge the IOC’s long-term commitment to inequality, if only because it will mean we win more gold medals. British Cycling’s performance director reckons he’s got an eight-month window to make his case to include more women’s cycling events at future Olympiads but IOC insiders suggest he might stand the briefest of chances only if women’s events were included at the expense of men’s events. The old bloke who does the Row Z garden – and reads the Observer instead when its chilly out – reckons that would be OK by him just so long as whichever event Mark Cavendish was due to be involved in was the one to get the chop.

A local derby in the White House
And, penultimately, rumours that Barak Obama is a West Ham supporter remain as yet unsubstantiated, although the prospect of him belting out “I’m forever blowing bubbles” in Dick Van Dyke mockney after a few short ones in the Oval Office does appeal enough for us to hope it is true. However, it does raise the interesting prospect of a diplomatic incident should the President come into contact with Osama Bin Laden, a noted Arsenal fan.

Drawing a veil
After 18 months at the word-face Row Z has finally been granted its own ‘feature’ called – as you can see – ‘Drawing a Veil’. In this section we will be refusing to give the oxygen of publicity to the stories even our team of hardened hacks were too flabbergasted to write about.

This month we will be drawing a veil over: Gordon Taylor’s venal attempts to have his clients – Premiership  football players – made exempt from WADA’s drugs testing regime; Max Mosley’s declamation that his privacy has been invaded by the national newspapers, in a column in a national newspaper; the Welsh Rugby Union’s refusal to give touring Canada £20,000 to help with their expenses; or the same organisation, ranked in the top eight in the world, screwing a grant out of the IRB’s fund for developing nations; the apparent failure of the FA’s Respect campaign to impinge on the managerial fraternity whatsoever; John Sergeant’s dancing career; and all of the Northern hemisphere’s international rugby teams’ efforts this autumn.


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