Row Z edition 28; dateline 30 January 2009

Salutations and ungentlemanly behaviour
We asked Sideliner what was exercising the most splenetic mind in UK sport in the early weeks of 2009 and all we got was: “Welshmen cheating, referees conniving. Bah!” The reference is of course to the latest trend in professional rugby union for players who notice that the referee is signalling ‘advantage’ following a penalty offence. The smart lad then drops the ball – deliberately – and the official awards the original penalty – erroneously. The correct action, Sir, is to signal the first penalty and then reverse it because the ‘deliberate knock-on’ is a full penalty offence. Sideliner adds: “And I would give the beggar a yellow card and a lecture on ungentlemanly conduct into the bargain.” Given the recession, a new US president and Lance Armstrong’s return to professional competition, Sidey’s focus on the important things in life is salutary.

Balance, aim and fire
If it is possible for volleyballers to shoot themselves in the foot then the GB set-up have managed it. When 2012 funding was originally announced British Volleyball took the innovative step of entering their men’s first team into the Dutch domestic league. Full as it was of bright, young prospects and other countries’ rejects (see Row Z passim), the team took time to find its feet but eventually they not only began winning league games but the GB team actually started beating other nations. As a result a number of our brave boys were offered pro contracts around Europe, signed them and the squad was split asunder. Which brings us to the EIS in Sheffield in early January and the first qualifying round for the world cup. Three opponents, three defeats and the chances of increased funding from UK Sport severely reduced as the fate of volleyball hangs in the balance.

In the cut
Regular readers will be aware of Sideliner’s interest in the world of narrowboating and will doubtless share our leader’s keen interest in the likely effect of the very latest Coronation Street storyline. It appears that serial lothario Ken Barlow has formed an attachment with an itinerant boat owner played by none other than the fragrant Stephanie Beacham. Exposure of this nature can only boost the pastime beloved of such luminaries as Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Harrison Ford; but will it survive potential headlines like: “Barlow bonks bargee Beacham”? Given Row Z’s support for the Inland Waterways Association’s annual festival due to hit sunny Nottingham in August, let’s hope so.

Between the sheets
When Simon Hattenstone took the journalistic equivalent of a Bosman there were many who felt that the back page of Monday’s Guardian Sport section would never tickle their fancy again. Thankfully his former colleague – one Martin Kelner – is justifying the 90p investment and we point to his description of BBC 2’s latest answer to the Setanta/Sky sports broadcasting hegemony: “The Indoor Bowls Championships from Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton-on-Sea… was as exciting as it sounds.”

Sits vacant
Speaking of all things beige, it seems that the Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee is looking for members. Nominees should “have a knowledge and understanding of safety and good practice in adventure activities” and “be able to read, understand and comment on documentation including relevant consultations, legislation and good practice guidance”. Surprisingly, the committee falls under the aegis of the CCPR and Skillsactive.

Opening the batting with Logie Baird
The folderol surrounding the “crown jewels” of sport that the government have decreed will always be available on terrestrial television – which for some reason includes a game of rugby league – is enriched by the list of luminaries selected to serve on David Davies’ review panel. Only very foolish people – including the old guy that does the Row Z garden – still confuse Davies with the bloke who dresses in turquoise and communes with aliens but some of his reviewing colleagues are equally as colourful. And two leap out. First is Sheffield Hallam’s professor of sport economics, Chris Gratton, who is a specialist in the economic analysis of the sport market and a respected industry figure. The second is also well-known but only for telling people how to kick a ball. Sideliner is as big a fan of the England Women’s soccer coach, Hope Powell, as anyone – the woman’s a legend – but she has no discernible expertise beyond her sport and cynics might suggest she has been picked for her gender and ethnicity. They should have asked Martin Kelner, a man who knows all too much about sport on television.

Friends, coaches, countrymen
Although hardly hot news, we haven’t been to press since it happened and we need to add Row Z’s voice to the paean of praise for the winners at the UK Coaching Awards held just before Christmas. That two of the winners – three if you count the Baroness – were “Friends of The Leisure Review” is just another pressing reason. We refer, of course, to cycling’s John Mills, who quite rightly was lauded as Coach Educator of the Year – an often overlooked cog in the sports system – and to Simon Kirkland’s team at Sport Structures who carried off the gong for Coaching Intervention of the Year. But the prize for best award must go to the ‘The Coaching Chain: The Appreciation of Coaching Award’ which went to all the coaches who had worked with Rebecca Adlington over the years. The full list of deserving winners is on the Sportscoach UK website.

Drawing a veil

Sideliner’s new section in which 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 are trying to ignore: the curious Heineken Cup format, which sees the mighty Bath topping a genuinely competitive group only to be rewarded with an away quarter final to Leicester who only had Italians and Welshmen to beat; the continuing saga of the latest professional body for the sector; Sport England’s new funding strategy which runs to 23 pages; BiSL, who seem to think that the third runway is a good thing; Robinho.

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