Weir’s Week: Temper tantrums, Team 12 and a 36-year grudge

David Nalbandian in happier times at Queen's Picture: Carine06
David Nalbandian in happier times at Queen's Club Picture: Carine06

The Le Mans 24 Hour race is one of the great sporting spectacles.

It is a contest that has captured the imagination for years, even in this country, with the British enjoying their fair share of success, both as manufacturers and drivers.

Scotland’s Allan McNish would again be amongst the frontrunners, part of the hugely impressive Audi works team. In the end they would finish in all three podium places, although McNish would be denied another victory after he tangled with a “slow” Ferrari late in the day.

McNish’s car was repaired and continued, but his accident was typical of the hazards that await the leading cars and drivers.

The reality is that only maybe half a dozen cars are capable of winning the race. The rest, while battling for class honours, become high-speed chicanes, to be negotiated – easier said than done given the disparity in pace amongst the various machines.

Anthony Davidson was another to find out that the slightest touch at 180mph can have catastrophic consequences.

Two fractured vertebrae was the extent of his injuries, testament to the design of these race cars, made to go fast – and last …

Around this time 30 years ago the blazers-and-Pimm’s fraternity who ran British tennis would have a few extra snifters to brace themselves for the arrival on these shores of “Superbrat”.

Difficult to believe these days, but once upon a time John McEnroe was the wild child of men’s tennis: volatile, vocal and a hater of authority.

He would almost self-combust with rage when things didn’t go his way, and let rip at those who had made those dodgy calls.

But just when you thought he would completely lose it, McEnroe would take a deep breath (while everyone else held theirs), shake his head, and get on with it.

Compare McEnroe’s colourful moments to the reaction of David Nalbandian at Queen’s last weekend.

Nalbandian, leading Marin Cilic in the final, was immediately disqualified by umpire Fergus Murphy for kicking a panel in front of line judge Andrew McDougall’s seat, injuring him.

If Nalbandian’s outburst (which saw him reported to the Metropolitan Police) was shocking, it was nothing compared to his attempted apology, or the fine levied by the ATP – a paltry £6,400, although he did also lose his £36,500 runners-up cheque.

The good news, though, is that he’s been given a role in Karate Kid III

Looking for a belated Father’s Day gift with a sporting theme? Danish designer Lauge Jensen’s latest motorcycle creation could be right up your street.

The bike is themed around Wayne Rooney, who donated one of his shirts and his signature for the machine – mounted on the petrol tank and lacquered to preserve the jersey – and a diamond-encrusted gearshift, with 21 black diamonds and one white, to signify the England striker.

And it commemorates his wonder overhead kick for Manchester United against Manchester City two seasons ago.

The bike is up for auction on eBay, with the KidsAid charity set to benefit from the proceeds of the sale.

“I am delighted to be involved in this unique fund-raising project,” Rooney said. “When first approached about the possibility of being involved in the design of a unique Wayne Rooney Lauge Jensen world-famous custom bike I was really excited to have the opportunity to be involved.

“The fact that the funds raised will go to kids in Denmark is a great way for me on behalf of all the players at Manchester United to say thank you for the support we receive from the Danish people.

“The bike we have designed is inspired by my scissor kick against Manchester City last season. The goal has been described as a score of high quality and technically outstanding and it was a target with great force and beauty.

“I hope people will agree with me when I say that the motorcycle has all these qualities and more.”

Beautiful goal, beautiful sentiments, Wayne.

And this will be the same Wayne who that same day was interviewed on Sky Sports News ahead of the Euro 2012 game against Ukraine, where he succeeded in saying “you know” 29 times in an interview of less than two minutes.

Maybe he writes better than he talks, you know …

I also knew – in advance – how the SPL fixture list would pan out after it became known that Rangers would be omitted and replaced by “Team 12”.

Those who follow me on Twitter will know that I was taking bets on Celtic getting a fixture against Team 12 around New Year. And guess what?

So the computer churned out these fixtures and randomly threw out that match for that week. Amazing.

I call it transparency – the ability to see through the blatantly obvious …

England beat Ukraine and qualify as group winners which means they won’t meet world and defending European champions Spain in the quarter-finals.

That’s great news. Just Italy – the 2006 World Cup winners – in the quarter-finals now, where victory would set up a semi-final against Germany for a final place against probably … eh, Spain.

That Ukraine win made things a whole lot easier …

So there will be no Walter Smith consortium at Rangers.

He may have signed off his statement wishing “the new Rangers Football Club every good fortune”, but Smith’s statement contained just enough innuendo and doubt to have Rangers supporters – many of whom wanted Smith to return to the club – wondering once again about the motives of Charles Green and whether he would be able to keep the promises he had made …

… but back comes new Rangers chief exec Green with more encouraging words. The man who froze season tickets at last year’s prices has declared that fans’ ticket money for the new term would be “ring fenced” in a secure account until the issues surrounding the club are resolved.

So, he wants fans to cough up when they don’t know who Rangers might be playing. But the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund thinks supporters should rally round the club, renew their season tickets and support the new owners.

Encouraging words all around. Obviously they just haven’t registered with many of the Gers fans I’ve met, who are still trying to read between the lines of that Walter Smith communiqué.

Chances of Rangers “newco” getting a seat at the top table next season in the SPL are lessening by the day.

Dundee United and Hearts announce what everyone knew anyway, that they would be voting No to “The Rangers” being part of the big league come August.

Motherwell, meanwhile, are planning to give fans belonging to their Well Society a vote on Rangers’ application.

Great to see fans being empowered in this way, where they are able to weigh up the financial implications of excluding Rangers and the morality of the situation, all of which will have played on the minds of supporters.

As quickly as I heard about Motherwell’s plan, so I received a call from a friend who had located a Well Society member known to both of us, who had revealed he will be voting against any newco inclusion.

His reasons? Was it to do with Rangers not paying tax? Double contracts? Employee Benefit Trusts?

Oh no. He wanted Rangers barred because he believed Derek Johnstone dived to win a penalty when challenged by ’Well goalkeeper Stewart Rennie in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup in 1976, a pivotal moment that turned the game from Motherwell leading 2-0 into a 3-2 defeat.

And knowing this person, he isn’t kidding about his reasons.

So don’t let anyone say Motherwell fans haven’t given this plenty of thought. One, at least, has pondered what he would do for the past 36 years ….

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments.

  • “He wanted Rangers barred”

    Eh, no-one wants Rangers barred from anything.

    They went bust, they’re no longer a member of anything.

    What Charles Green FC are attempting to do is to bypass the rules and regulations which apply to every other club in Scotland, and forgo the process of having their new club apply to the SFA for membership, then making representation to the SFL to see if they will permit entry to their 3rd division.

    It’s the attempt by Charles Green FC to bypass the rules, and the apparent levels of support he is getting in doing so from within the ranks of the supporters of the now defunct Rangers Football Club (In Liquidation), which sticks in the craw of the supporter of every other club in Scotland which seeks to abide by the rules.

    There is no punishment being meted out to Charles Green FC, it’s what happens to anyone who sets up a new football club.