Row Z edition 29; dateline 6 March 2009

All aboard the good ship sport
It seems Sport England is to have another new navigator at the helm. Sports minister Andy Burnham has handed the baton, or possibly the poisoned chalice, to one Richard Lewis who will chair the influential agency from 1 April. To sum up our enthusiasm for this ground-breaking appointment we repeat the quotation we shared with readers in February but which has curiously disappeared from . Citing Chair Lewis’ precedents, the bubbly release told us all that he had "played a transformational role at the Rugby Football League bringing unity, financial stability and a higher profile to the sport, while at the same time delivering a significant growth in participation." Sounds like a top chap. He was at the LTA as well for a while. Excellent. And the CCPR.

Duck that
The work experience lad has been trying to make his mark and is advocating that Row Z adopts the Great British Duck Race as its official charity for 2009. The event involves setting up to 175,000 plastic ducks loose on the River Thames on 6th September. Adopting a duck only costs £2 and you have a chance to win money every month. Sideliner has spoken: it’s in. Support the Great British Duck Race at

Double treble? Mine’s a half
What odds do you think you can now get against Old Trafford’s finest (sic) “doing the sextuple”? They are already celebrating winning the World Club Championship – having beaten one other team – and the Milk Cup; whoop-de-doo! The rumour is that Fergie has entered a team in the Crumpsall & District Sunday League Intermediate Cup* – current holders Pendlebury Old Scouts** – and has found a suitably sycophantic hack to acclaim him god’s gift to kickball when he emerges victorious. Perhaps he should simply follow the lead of the Scottish Women’s head coach, a Swedish lady called Anna Signeul, who invented her own competition: “In the first two years I was Scotland coach I tried to get us into the Algarve Cup [which annually features five of the world’s top seven nations] but I realised it would never happen so decided to start a tournament myself.” She should take up darts.

* We made this up
** And this

In praise of PRs
Say what you like about public relations firms, they are becoming more and more evident in run-of-the-mill sport and leisure contexts. Everybody knows that a senior figure in one of the big four governing bodies of sport with an imminent Polish appointment is said to have someone to advise him what to wear on a daily basis but now even the likes of Sporta and Leisure Industry Week have people to boost their profile. Speak it softly but we have even heard that there is a small schools sports partnership in the Midlands with its own spin doctor. At Row Z we love PR people because they are unremittingly pleasant on the telephone and supply us with regular insights into the minutiae of other people’s lives – did you know, for example, that the Fitness Industry Association holds an annual golf day?  But surely any industry that uses words like ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘inspirational’ and ‘delightful’ quite so often needs regulation.

Amateurs boxing
Congratulations to Cumbrian amateur rugby league outfit Wath Brow Hornets who, having beaten London Skolars in the last round, join the fourteen Super (sic) League clubs in the next round of the Challenge Cup,. Less wholesome applause goes to fellow amateurs Queens of Leeds who survive in the competition only because their third-round tie was abandoned with nineteen minutes to go due to “crowd trouble” at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium. The tie had been switched to encourage a larger attendance but with only 595 spectators in a venue that hopes to host a Four Nations International in the near future Sideliner has to ask whether agoraphobia was a contributory factor for the visiting contingent.

Drawing a veil
This month we are avoiding any mention of: Martin Johnson’s performance as England rugby manager; our Davis Cup team; the need for event promoters to set up an ‘official website’ for ticket touts in the face of government inaction; Ashley Cole blaming photographers for his abuse of policemen; Formula 1; the chancellor’s plans to close even more pubs by levying duty equivalent to 33% of the price of very pint you drink; Dwain Chambers’ book (although he does share Sideliner’s views on Ms Ohurougu); Mark Cavendish; the hyphen in new Wales captain Alan-Wyn-Jones’ name.

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