Weir’s Week: medals, anthems, flames … and Gaelic TV

Sir Chris Hoy flies the flag at the Olympic opening ceremony
Sir Chris Hoy flies the flag at the Olympic opening ceremony Picture: Nick J Webb

Saturday
It was difficult to wake up on Saturday morning and not think about the night before.

There will be those pointing to the £27 million price tag, and those saying it was over the top and cheesy. But if Danny Boyle isn’t a “Sir” before this year is out, I’ll be amazed.

Covering a five-hour extravaganza isn’t easy. You need to research it, have crib notes galore, and be able to resist the opportunity to slip in your little gems of knowledge.

It’s when you leave the beaten track, or your script, that things can go slightly awry.

The sight of Bradley Wiggins, clad in the yellow jersey, was maybe too much for Hazel Irvine. She said all the right things, but then added a line about him being “the only winner of the Tour de France from these isles”.

Just imagine the noise a wrong answer used to get in Family Fortunes.

Her throwaway nugget was a surprise to a great many people, most of all to Stephen Roche, who won the race in 1987. Roche is of course from Ireland – which, the last time I looked, was part of the British Isles. Still, it was a long night.

And some will be hoping their careers last a bit longer than one evening as well.

After all the guessing, all the speculation and red herrings galore, it emerged that seven young athletes were to have the task of igniting the Olympic flame in the stadium.

Olympic legends Dame Kelly Holmes, Lynn Davies, Shirley Robertson, Duncan Goodhew, Daley Thompson, Dame Mary Peters and Sir Steve Redgrave – who carried the flame into the Olympic Stadium – nominated Adelle Tracey, Aidan Reynolds, Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk and Cameron MacRitchie to perform the ceremony.

What an honour. What a highlight. What a memory. What an enormous weight of expectation on young shoulders.

Because for as long as these youngsters perform, the media will monitor those performances. No pressure there, then …

Sunday
There was a time when it looked as if Rangers wouldn’t be making an appearance in any shape or form this season – as far back as last Friday, to be honest. But out trotted Ally McCoist’s men at Glebe Park in front of a capacity crowd of just over 4,000, a figure swelled by those able to tune in to BBC Alba.

I have in the past sung the praises of their coverage of Scottish sport. How others might learn from them. But I do wish they had a red button option for English commentary.

It took me back to a tale from yesteryear when John Brown of Rangers was entrusted with looking after new signings, showing them the ropes and routines, especially on away trips.

“Bomber” was to babysit new boy Terry Hurlock ahead of a game in Aberdeen.

Brown was in the bathroom, conversing with Hurlock who suddenly fell silent.

Brown found him sitting, absorbed in what was being shown on TV.

“I can understand you Bomber, and the other boys. But I can only understand every fifth or sixth word up here,” admitted a perplexed Hurlock – as he watched the Gaelic news on Grampian TV …

Monday
Teenager Ruta Meilutyte wins Lithuania’s first-ever Olympic gold in the swimming pool with victory in the 100-metre breaststroke.

It’s almost a British success, given that the 15-year-old attends school and is coached in Plymouth. So no danger then that any TV presenters would be giving it the old “hint-hint, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say no more” routine when it came to the question of drug-taking.

Unlike if you were from China

Tuesday
A lot of numbers being bandied around today, starting with those attached to the new SPL TV deal with Sky – who will show 30 games per season, plus five involving Rangers.

Does that mean that without the Ibrox club there would have been no deal? Where on the integrity scale does that one register?

The deal is allegedly worth £13 million a season, although £1m of that goes to the SFL clubs, with the rest divided amongst the 12 SPL sides, where points mean pounds.

So the winners come May can expect around £3m. Or should I say Celtic come May can expect around £3m. Somewhat shy of the £32m that Wolves, relegated from the English Premier League, earned last season.

Massive team, massive support, global admirers and a long history. Which, on a season-by-season basis, counts for ten times less than England’s most ordinary …

If eyes were diverted away from London, in Scotland at any rate, then they focused on Fir Park where Motherwell were involved in their first-ever UEFA Champions League qualifier.

Unfortunately they lost 2–0 to Panathinaikos. But given the importance and significance of the match, the good people of Motherwell and surrounds piled in to watch, all 9,035 of them.

Well, what else would you have expected for arguably the biggest game for the club in yonks, certainly their most important in Europe?

Yet that crowd figure was shy of the number which turned up last season to see Rangers at Fir Park, 9,063 the tally.

Rangers couldn’t possibly be a bigger attraction than such a crucial European tie? Could they?

Wednesday
Scotland hasn’t produced a swimming gold-medallist since David Wilkie in 1976. But Michael Jamieson had the chance to put that right, ironically in the 200m breaststroke, the event Wilkie won in Montreal.

Jamieson’s efforts were broadcast on the stadium big screens ahead of Celtic’s Champions League qualifier against HJK Helsinki.

The Team GB athlete had long held an ambition to perform at Parkhead, although that would have been with ball at feet and in a hooped jersey.

Still, it was good to see Olympic sport being welcomed by the Celtic faithful. However, I like many wondered if they would have stayed “live” with the medal ceremony and the national anthem had Jamieson won.

Now, we’ll never know – just have to keep guessing …

Thursday
Sir Chris Hoy wins again, his fifth Olympic gold medal, a member of the Great Britain sprint team.

“Not bad for an old man,” conceded his dad David, as ever right on hand to see his son’s latest success and furnish the press with a usable quote.

The best quote I ever heard about Chris, though, came during a photoshoot I set up ahead of his kilometre world record bid in Bolivia.

In the middle of an Edinburgh street, Chris stood with his lightweight super-bike above his head.

“Some machine that,” said an aged gentleman passing. “Thanks, it is,” Chris replied.

“Aye, but nothing like the machine holding it up,” added the old bloke. How right he was …

Friday
Katherine Grainger, after three successive silver medals, finally makes it gold, winning the double sculls with Anna Watkins.

A great gold for a great and dedicated sportswoman, and another win for Scotland, Grainger joining Hoy, fellow rower Heather Stanning and Tim Baillie in the C2 canoeing.

So, Scotland look well-placed for Rio in 2016, should independence be gained before then.

Or should someone point out to the saltire-wavers that those proud Scots were part of Union teams in each of their four disciplines?

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments.