WEIR’S WEEK 21st February 2014

The late Sir Tom Finney in action
(Pictures from his memorial site)

And the football world mourns the passing of Sir Tom Finney, aged 91.

The film footage played in tribute to Finney, his sport and his skill looked from a bygone age, unrecognisable to today’s game in more ways than one. Finney played 569 club games, all of them for Preston North End (although Palermo tried to buy him in 1952), a concept today’s footy fan may toil to get their heads around.

Sir Tom in his later years
Sir Tom in his later years
He also had a real job, a plumber to trade, although he did get a company vehicle as a perk of the job – when he was serving as a tank driver with the 9th Lancers during the Second World War.

I never saw Finney play, my knowledge limited to that crackling film, books and the opinion of those who did see him grace the international stage.

Finney won 76 caps for England, when for much of that time, Sir Stanley Matthews filled the right-wing berth. So Finney played on the left, or as an inside forward, or in the middle.

“Imagine the best players you ever saw and then think of Tom Finney as the sum total of their ability. That’s the player he was,” the late Bob Crampsey once told me. Something I still toil to get my head around …

A week after they were tonked 5-1 at Anfield, Arsenal gain a measure of revenge by knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup. While happy at his team’s performance, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was upset that referee Howard Webb didn’t award his team a second penalty after Luis Suarez was fouled by Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. It was as they say, a decent shout as you will see here – although maybe Suarez’s slightly theatrical neck spring put some doubt in Webb’s mind …

Brendon McCullum  Unique cricketing talent (from Vimeo)
Brendon McCullum
Unique cricketing talent
(from Vimeo)
New Zealand cricket has had some many fine batsmen, but none in the Test match arena had ever scored a triple-hundred until now.

Brendon McCullum hits 302 against India in Wellington to become the first Kiwi batsman to join that select band, but in doing so the 32-year-old became a member of an even more exclusive club. Having scored a double-ton in the First Test, McCullum becomes just the third cricketer in Test history to follow a two hundred with the three hundred in consecutive matches.

The other two? Walter Hammond and Donald Bradman. Now, is that keeping exclusive company or what …

And the SPFL has a bit of a stooshie on their hands after it was revealed that Inverness Caley Thistle would only receive 8000 tickets for the League Cup Final against Aberdeen. Not just that, it looked as if they’d be stuck in a corner at Celtic Park while 30,000 Dons fans enjoyed the run of Parkhead. ICT’s fans demanded an increase in their allocation, 10,000 was the arrived-at number – considerably more than the 1458 who arrived at the Caledonian Stadium for their Scottish Cup replay against Stranraer.

Caley Thistle LogoBy my calculations, that’s 14.58% of what they were demanding for their big date in Glasgow. See me, see arithmetic!! Of course, it was all just a misunderstanding and with no sponsors to get in the way, and a 60,000 capacity at Parkhead, Caley Thistle fans will get as many tickets as they like – which should see a 40,000 ‘sell-out.’

Yes, one tier, in the Lisbon Lions stand at Celtic Park, will remain empty. Let’s hope there are not too many high balls then. Needless to say, this ‘non-fiasco’ played into the hands of those who would have you believe that the Ramsdens Cup final – featuring Rangers and Raith Rovers – has been earmarked for Easter Road to avoid any possible embarrassment that the lower league knock-out tournament would attract more of a crowd than the SPFL’s premier cup tournament.

Some people have too much time on their hands. Obviously, me amongst them …

Graeme Obree More available to uphold the students' cause (Pic; Wikipedia)
Graeme Obree
More available to uphold the students’ cause
(Pic; Wikipedia)
And intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden is elected to the post of student rector at Glasgow University, succeeding former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, and beating cyclist Graeme Obree, author Alan Bissett and Scottish Episcopal clergyman Kelvin Holdsworth in the poll. I listened to and read various explanations as to why the former US National Security Agency contractor gained the student’s support. Some said he was a hero, others pointed to his bravery.

For me, Obree ticks both of those boxes, and a few more; a sporting hero who made cycling’s rulers rewrite their rule book, who then admitted to being gay, showing bravery with that admission, and daily with the abuse he is subjected to. And he is available at short notice, unlike Snowden, who currently is demonstrating his bravery on a daily basis hiding in Russia …

I’ve often thought the phrase of pictures saying a thousand words was commissioned by some TV exec to sell their football coverage – with this goal from Salzburg’s Jonathan Soriano being a classic example. The pictures say it all!

So it wasn’t to be for David Murdoch’s Team GB quartet out in Sochi. Still, at least there was a silver medal at the end of it. Oh, and the knowledge that in four years time, he won’t have to return as defending champion wondering if he should represent Britain or Scotland …