If the weekend starts on Friday evening (Thursday if you’ve ever been to Sunderland) then Aston Villa’s FA Cup loss at Millwall was the weekend’s first shock of many.
Norwich City embarrassingly crashed out to non-League Luton Town, QPR another Premier League representative who exited to much-lower league opposition in the shape of MK Dons, while Liverpool and Spurs would be humbled on the Sabbath by the might of Oldham and Leeds United.
Add to that St Mirren’s unexpected League Cup triumph over Celtic, and to be predictably clichéd, it was a weekend full of cup shocks – and a weekend when anyone in profit from their fixed-odds coupon can consider themselves either a genius, or extremely jammy …
World No.1 Novak Djokovic wins his fourth Australian Open title to end Andy Murray’s hopes of back-to-back Grand Slam titles. Murray was well in the hunt for the title until a bird feather floated down from the skies.
“Like a voodoo omen,” wrote the Daily Mail.
I just wonder what effect that line alone might have on some of the Mail’s tennis-loving readership in middle England. Watch out for a run on rare bones, magic stones, virgin’s blood and shrunken heads before the French Open.
Folk in Paisley are smiling for a change. Because by now it will have sunk in that they actually beat Celtic yesterday at Hampden to claim a place in the League Cup final against Hearts. Without a goal in their last eight games against Celtic, and 22 conceded in the process, the Saints scored three over the runaway SPL leaders to end all talk of domestic trebles for the Parkhead club.
And of course, it was all down to a lucky penny six-year-old Grace McMillan gave St Mirren gaffer Danny Lennon ahead of the game. Lennon claimed repeatedly rubbing the magic coin helped the Buddies to their success. As I tweeted at the time, the chances of Danny convincing the Saints board that he needs a transfer budget now might prove very difficult …
Despite various protestations a matter of days ago, it appears that all 12 SPL clubs will follow the whips and support the 12-12-18 league reconstruction plan. Leading paper shuffler Neil Doncaster commented; “I firmly believe that any change can only come from consensus and there’s one consensus model for change going forward.”
Wait a minute. Ten add ten is 18?
The SFL’s masterplan includes an additional two club, taking us to 44 senior teams. Do we really need that many with a population of five million? While they appear to be all smiles when they meet in public, off-camera and on-the-record, there are accusations galore from decision makers on both sides about the tail wagging the dog; the SPL see the SFL as the butt-end because the top teams have TV and the money, vice-versa from an SFL perspective given they think they have the numbers.
Me? I just think this particular pup is barking at both ends …
Japan’s national women’s judo head coach says he intends to resign after allegations emerged that he had beaten his athletes with heavy bamboo swords, like those used in the Japanese martial art of kendo. I suppose that’s one way of getting their attention and putting your message over.
But Ryuji Sonoda admitted that in light of the allegations, it would be “difficult” for him to keep his post, conceding that the stories of physical abuse were “more or less true.” Answered like someone who’d studied Lance Armstrong’s Oprah interview …
It’s Deadline Day, or Jim White Day as some of us prefer to call it. Like Her Majesty, our Jim has two official celebrations during the course of the year, though today wasn’t as memorable as others. A lack of real activity meant some of it was uneasy viewing, almost as if the transfer window had trapped Jim’s fingers, leaving him smiling through the pain until eased by the antics of West Brom’s would-be QPR striker Peter Odemwingie.
“Neil Lennon says Gary Hooper is not for sale,” announced Jim several times, before conceding at 23.01; “And Gary Hooper will be staying at Celtic.” Complete mastery of how to sound shocked and surprised at something you knew to be true all along. That didn’t mean to say that Celtic were not trying to do a bit of business of their own, and had a last-gasp bid to sign Wolves striker Kevin Doyle on loan until the end of the season turned down.
There would be various reasons behind him not showing up in Glasgow – Craig Bellamy, Robbie Keane and Freddie Ljungberg amongst them …
There were other transfer Deadline Day near misses, although arguably the most bizarre was George Boyd’s non-move to Nottingham Forest. The Peterborough United player’s move appeared to be a done deal, until his medical, when an eye sight test proved ‘inconclusive.’
Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony raged; “I’m devastated for George. I got a phone call off him in bits. George agreed terms with Forest and went there for a medical. He said that he passed the medical then they made him do an eye test. He’s played 300 games and scored from the halfway line the other month, but Forest say he has an eyesight problem.
“The whole thing stinks.”
Forest boss Alex McLeish is probably getting a whiff of that himself, given his own playing experiences alongside the likes of Jim Leighton and the late Tommy Burns, neither of whom did too badly on the field while having to wear milk bottle bottoms away from the pitch.
Boiled down, it appears as if the real issue was whether Nottingham Forest’s owners actually wanted to spend the money, or not as it transpired.
Hearing about the whole sorry episode, I was reminded of this fantastic sketch from yesteryear – especially when it came to mentioning the medical.