Weir’s Week: from Kyle Stanley to Port Stanley, via Top of the Pops

The General Belgrano – keeping politics out of sport? <em>Picture: Armada Argentina</em>
The General Belgrano – keeping politics out of sport? Picture: Armada Argentina
By Stewart Weir

Was at the Six Nations rugger today, Scotland versus England, and spent quite a wee while (big while, actually) in the company of Stuart Grimes, Doddie Weir, Ivan Tukalo, Peter Winterbottom and Iain Milne.

While we could view the game through the glass, we wanted the TV on for replays. Switching it on proved troublesome, Milne eventually commandeering the remote control, pressing various buttons to make codes, commands and a fuzzy screen appear, but no picture.

“Do you know what you are doing there, Bear?” asked Winterbottom.

“No,” growled Milne. “I have a son at home for these things…”

Kids add so much to your life – and, in the Milne household, your viewing habits.

My avid reader may have noticed the other week my mention of American football, and how I observed that there wasn’t another sport where time and the clock – and the use of it – was such a key factor.

Sunday’s Super Bowl further enhanced that claim, with the last play of the game still in progress after time was up as New England Patriots desperately tried to claim a match-winning score.

New York Giants were instead crowned world champions (let that be a lesson to you, whoever you are in charge of shinty’s marketing department), inspired by MVP Eli Manning, who showed why exactly he was midway through a five-year contract worth (excluding endorsements) nearly $100 million.

Back to the clock, and with two-and-a-bit minutes remaining, the Patriots were in the box seat. But they squandered a time-out when they questioned a line call, challenging Mario Manningham’s wonder catch and watched as the Giants ran the clock down.

So desperate were the Patriots to get the ball back in Brady’s hands that they conceded a touchdown to Ahmad Bradshaw with a minute left, one of the most bizarre scores you will ever see in sport.

It was almost slow motion as Bradshaw suddenly realised the scam that had been pulled and tried, unsuccessfully, not to score!

But the Giants held out and were rewarded a few days later with a famous tickertape parade through New York, the kind usually reserved for returning war heroes, presidents and astronauts.

And making the most of the occasion was Scotland’s own (well, he’s a winner, so we’ll claim him) Lawrence Tynes, resplendent in his Scotland football shirt.

My only surprise is Tynes hasn’t yet appeared on a referendum poster…

A week ago Kyle Stanley woke up wondering what could have been. Today, he rose knowing what last week should have felt like.

A week after self-destructing at Torrey Pines, Stanley won the Waste Management Phoenix Open (not to be confused with the Shit Spreaders Borders Handicap) on Sunday.

Stanley took advantage of Spencer Levin’s final-round collapse. Stanley hit a six-under 65, ten shots better than Levin over the final 18 holes.

“I really feel for him [Levin], experiencing that,” Stanley said. “He’s a very good player, way too good a player to not bounce back or recover.”

Just as Stanley did himself. I don’t care where Levin is playing this week, but hoping history repeats itself, I’ll have money on him…

For decades there has been an ongoing debate about whether or not you can keep politics out of sport. Or, I suppose, a counter-argument of how you can play politics within sport.

This week, the Argentinian government took that debate onto a whole new level by renaming their top league competition Crucero General Belgrano Primera División – or, in English, Cruiser General Belgrano First Division.

I’ve already tweeted that might give new meaning to sinking into the relegation zone. So I won’t repeat it…

So the nation that over the years has given us some of the world greatest footballers, polo ponies and a form of tinned beef that has the ability to live long after both its sell-by date and that of those who manufactured it, has now escalated tensions as the 30th anniversary of their poor, unfortunate conscripts getting their arses kicked off Crown territory comes around.

Of course, they (they say) are merely reacting to the UK’s latter-day gunboat diplomacy of sending our most state-of-the-art ship for an island cruise, and that they have a Royal Prince to fly over them – although I can’t remember the good people of Wales kicking off because he arrived in Anglesey.

It is bemusing and amusing. Laughable even if it wasn’t for the fact that lives were lost recapturing these outcrops of sovereignty.

But this is a blatant example of sport being used for political gain (or loss), with the Argentinian government – who own the rights to First Division matches and show games on free-to-air TV – abusing their power.

Of course, that could never happen here. Although, given the perilous state of the Scottish game and the fact that it may need rescued in the future, I am looking forward to the resumption of the old First Division, or the 1314 Get It Right Up Yi’ League, as it will be known by 2018, and the great derby fixture of Declaration of Arbroath against Unionists (or the club formerly known as Rangers) …

What a day! England manager Fabio Capello chucks it, or whatever the Italian translation of that is, hours after someone spent £8m on Harry Redknapp only for a court to prove he isn’t an international player.

The highlight of Redknapp’s appearance on the steps of the court had to be the Mirror’s Oliver Holt, bouncing around in the background like the Donkey out of Shrek.

Those sporting – or industrial – matters aside, my sporting highlight of the day had to be Scotland Tonight. Not noted for its sporting content, excluding sectarianism and Rangers ongoing tax saga, they featured the soon-to-be released documentary Kirkcaldy Man about Scotland’s world darts champion Jocky Wilson.

Wilson won his title in 1982, had a wife named Malvina (as in Las Islas Malvinas, or Falkland Isles in English), and appeared on Top of the Pops.

30 years on, Kirkcaldy’s finest is a recluse, riddled by ill health caused by the diet of fags and vodka he enjoyed like his success in the 80s.

STV in their wisdom (and, as it turned out, inspired judgment) turned to former world finalist and king of bling Bobby George, now a BBC summariser, to give his take on John Thomas Wilson.

Host Rona Dougall can seldom have been called “doll” on air, or had the response of “luvvly jubbly darlin’” during her broadcasting career. But it was funny, great television, and proved the value of having guests who actually knew the subject matter, rather than those who only have an opinion on it…

I met Wilson a couple of times. I also met one of his shirts.

I was in Ireland, where he had played an exhibition. In the local social club, a guy stood clad in one of Jocky Wilson’s darts shirts, blue and white, beer- and sweat-stained.

He proceeded to tell me that he got it from Wilson on the night and had worn it ever night since as he practiced in the club, hoping some of the magic might rub (or drip) off on the oche.

“When was he here?” I enquired. “Just in March, or April, I think.”

I held my breath, rather than debate the month, as it was now November…

Wednesday was past but Fabio Capello’s departure was the news.

Stuart Pearce, his assistant, who had been at the Hearts versus Celtic SPL match as news broke of his boss’s exit, was announced as the caretaker boss for his country’s next match, the friendly against Holland later this month.

Pearce is also coach to Team GB for the Olympic football tournament, his trip to Edinburgh having been to see Celtic’s James Forrest in action. So he’ll be a busy boy in the coming weeks.

Just hope Pearce’s momentary rise in status doesn’t come back as an excuse after the Olympics…

So Rangers appear to have signed Daniel Cousin again.

Blow stoor off the “Kissin’ Cousin” and “Buzzin’ Cousin” headlines. Or maybe not.

If Rangers signing policies in the last two transfer windows have been likened to bargain basement or end-or-range buys, then Cousin is the equivalent of car boot stuff.

Of course, four years on from bailing out of Ibrox for the heights of Hull, Cousin may have lost a bit.

And while it’s easy to poke fun, just imagine the doomsday scenario that would face many if Cousin scored the goals that won the league title.

What a story that would be. Might even be enough for a Newsnight Scotland special

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz

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