Weir’s week: Norwegian wonder goal, a straight spinner and fitba on the telly

<em>Picture: Britanglishman</em>
Picture: Britanglishman
By Stewart Weir

Can’t say today was anything other than very, very, very wet, standing on top of Drummond Hill, looking out over, well, frankly nothing but low cloud. The Colin McRae Forest Stages Rally has filled the agenda for the past few days.

Driving up, I marvelled at how beautiful and scenic Perthshire is at this time of year. That is, when you can see it.

The deepest, darkest forests are a great place to lose yourself, and, all touch with the bigger world. Mobile signals go in and out with the tide, so there was really no use concerning ourselves too much with what was happening with Scotland and England at the Rugby World Cup, that was, until it was too late. More later.

Match Of The Day then became the Sunday morning show, by which time I knew all about, or knew the story behind, Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell being sent off in the Merseyside derby.

Rodwell saw red after a challenge on Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, or rather, was given his marching orders when Suarez tripped over him. It was never a sending off, indeed it was never a yellow card, and almost struggled to be considered a tackle. But Martin Atkinson saw fit to dismiss him. The good news will be that the FA will decided to withdraw the suspension. As if that makes a difference…

These successful appeals seldom matter, because the damage has already been done, in Everton’s case, playing 60-odd minutes without one of their most influential players.

Atkinson made the call, and got it horribly wrong. We all make mistakes. But he had another three helpers at the side of the pitch who got it equally wrong. Another great case for TV replays and another great case for some people to be refereeing park football for several weekends.

Spotted this wonder goal during a trawl. It is quite remarkable. Once saw Derek Johnstone score with a diving header from outside the box against Wales, but maximum that would have been 20 yards. The bit I like in the BBC’s text is that officials asked the police to come in to “verify the distance”.

Obviously, the polis have little to do around Norwegian fitba matches …

Scotland return home from the Rugby World Cup, although we knew they would be ever since they lost against Argentina. That they were going to beat England by the required margin and hope the Pumas lay in front of the fire licking their nether regions rather than beating Georgia was just for dreamers.

From the papers I saw, only Scotland on Sunday carried Scotland’s demise on their front page the day after, only the Herald on Monday. Had it been football, the call for heads, especially Andy Robinson’s, to roll would have been week-long.

Coach Robinson wants to keep his job and said so again. And probably will. Because it doesn’t appear as if too many are interested in Scottish rugby, especially in print.

Karen Murphy. Remember her name. Because when it comes to broadcasting football, she might turn out to be as famous, or infamous as Jean-Marc Bosman has been to transfers.

Today she won a landmark court case against the Premier League, a European court backing her right to show football in her pub purchased from a Greek broadcaster, rather than through Sky and ESPN.

Mrs Murphy claimed the Premier League’s stance was “contrary to EU law” on the freedom of trade, and won her case.

The upshot is that landlords could now be able to show all 380 Premier League games a season by buying decoder cards and subscriptions from TV companies based in other EU states for less than £2,000 a year, when similar Sky packages could cost six-times that.

All of which, came as a surprise to me. Because I don’t know how many pubs I’ve been in over the last umpteen years who show live football around the clock, from around the world, especially Scandinavia and the Gulf states.

Licences and agreements may well have been infringed or broken. But from my experience, there doesn’t appear to be too many on the ground trying to police or protect the rights holders.

Sad news that former England bowler Graham Dilley has passed away aged just 52. Perhaps I’m doing his memory a disservice there. Maybe I should call him an all-rounder given that arguably his most famous moment came with the bat, accompanying Ian Botham during his famous knock at Headingley against the Aussies some 30 years ago.

Years later, “Dill’ acted”as Scotland’s bowling coach during the 1999 World Cup. After one match, some spectators, press and players joined for an impromptu knockabout, with me showing my prowess as a “leggy” I had, through no practice, developed a confusing delivery, the “straight spinner”, where despite every effort to rotate the leather, it floated like a brick.

As Dilley and others walked across the outfield, he commented that anyone who could bowl that badly shouldn’t be allowed to write about cricket, to which I replied, he should see me playing football (on more than one occasion compared to the rhino from Bedknobs and Broomsticks) – and I got an award for writing about that.

The ugly, shadowy world of sports betting and alleged fixing shows face again in North Lanarkshire, this time with Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings arrested over irregularities around the player’s sending off against Hearts last December. It is reported that the scam would have been worth £100,000. Nice dosh, if you ever get away with it.

But having been involved in various enquiries, stories and investigations in the past, it will come as a surprise to many that there are not hundreds and thousands queueing up to make bets on players being sent off, or snooker players winning matches by the correct score.

Indeed, some matches might only have one bet made on them – and if that is something substantial, or out of the ordinary, then it sticks out like a sore thumb – something bookies, who loathe paying out on anything, spot a mile off.

And these days, such “hot” bets are usually accompanied by a call on the hotline, to the local nick …

Good news from the Scotland camp that Darren Fletcher’s tonsils might be okay for the “must win” (No.423 in the history of Scottish football) game against those Euro-giants, Liechtenstein. I am however, not so sure whether this is so he is fit to play, or, lead the karaoke when they get back to the hotel …

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