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Dereck Chisora

Vicky Leandros – due to referee Haye versus Chisora?

Well, was it a goal or wasn’t it?

The late kick-off time and the jeering of the National Anthem by some sections of the Liverpool support (for reasons too many to list) became an irrelevance as the world debated whether Andy Carroll’s headed “goal” should have stood.

Chelsea were on the ropes at the time, and had his effort been given Carroll would have been elevated to king (or probably prince within the House of Anfield) and the bargain of the century.

Instead, the goal wasn’t given – probably because it wasn’t a goal. Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Čech produced an instinctive reflex save to push the header on to the underside of the crossbar. And no number of replays helped to confirm that all of the ball had crossed all of the line.

Chelsea won in the end, Didier Drogba making history with a fourth cup final goal. But his contribution was no more or less match-winning that Čech’s effort.

Good as his super stop was, some went overboard in praise of the Czech Čech.

“The greatest save ever in a cup final,” tweeted one overly enthusiastic but under-educated twit, quickly corrected by one equally overly enthusiastic pedant. Well, you’ve got to educate these youngsters haven’t you?

Čech’s stop was good. But this is just unbelievable, as remains so nearly 40 years on …

Manchester – if not the country – is divided as City travel to Newcastle trying to keep their title ambitions on-track, while United hope for a derailment.

In the end, Yaya Touré helped City maintain their lead, so United could only beat Swansea and take the title fight into a final Sunday.

This they duly did at a subdued Old Trafford. But there was nothing shy and retiring about Sir Alex Ferguson’s press conference minutes after the final whistle, winding up the tension as only he can.

Perhaps he’s clutching at straws, hoping against hope that City slip up on the final day.

He might be powerless in what they do against QPR, but Fergie will at least have everyone at City thinking about the visit of QPR, and their manager, ex-City boss Mark Hughes.

Hughes, said his former gaffer, was “sacked in a very unethical way and he’ll remember that”. Or rather Fergie is hoping Hughes will remember that, in the same way as the United manager joked he wished “Sparky was playing against City on Sunday”.

All of which will give the conspiracy theorists much to talk about before and after Sunday’s showdown.

For many years now, May bank holiday Monday has meant just one thing – that come Tuesday morning, you will wake up decidedly tired, probably because you have watched the conclusion of snooker’s Betfred World Championship in to the wee sma’ hours.

But not this year. Business was done and dusted quickly enough on Monday evening to get another re-run of Coast on BBC2, as Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Ali Carter to claim a fourth world crown.

After 17 days at the Crucible, and despite his disappointment, Carter still had the strength to tweet: “Gutted I lost, but lost to the greatest player of all time, so no disgrace there. Thanks to all my positive followers.”

Not something I could be accused of, distancing myself from Ali’s claim – or delirium – about Ronnie. “Greatest player of all time?”

I suppose if you’ve just been gubbed for the second time in four years by “The Rocket” in the world final, you are looking for some kind of solace in being second best – especially in the knowledge that, with all the rule changes and amendments to the ranking system, if it happens again then Ronnie gets to keep you.

Difficult, then, not to sound like an Essex fanboy, albeit one who ignores the record books – which show Ronnie only level with John Higgins on four world titles, two behind both Ray Reardon and Steve Davis in the modern era, who in turn look up to Stephen Hendry on seven.

I should say here that Ali is a trained flyer, ready to carve a career as a commercial pilot once he hangs up his cue, and has come through a torrid time healthwise to achieve what he has on and off the table.

But maybe check the radar first before you try landing that Rocket claim again, mate.

Radar, Hawkeye or fifth or sixth officials would have been useful at Easter Road in the crunch relegation game between Scottish Cup finalists Hibs and Dunfermline.

The game was over before the Hibees sealed a decisive win thanks to Paul Hanlon’s fourth goal.

A great strike, probably one of the best of his career, and certainly one of the most important. And how much better it would have been had it crossed the line instead of rebounding a yard back into play.

Hanlon said he was embarrassed to call it a goal, and might not claim it as his – which alerted a Mr McCoist of Govan who said he was in Scotland on the night, and could he have it …

Doesn’t seem too long ago since I cynically suggested – and jested – that the after-fight brawl that took place in Germany between David Haye and Dereck Chisora was no more than a taster for the two of them getting it on in the ring.

And as if by magic, on 14 July, Upton Park will stage a “re-match” between the two. As neither man holds a British licence, the fight will be sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, rather than the British Boxing Board of Control.

For those who are none the wiser, having your fight sanctioned in the UK by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation is rather like claiming a doctorate from a postal university in America…

Needless to say, the BBBoC are upset and dismayed that promoters have skipped around their jurisdiction, while rival promoter Frank Maloney said the show “undermines the authority of the BBBoC” and world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko called the fight “a freak show with freak rules”.

I agreed wholeheartedly with all their sentiments as I checked to find which Sky package I’d need to see the fight …

Meanwhile, Bill Miller confirmed his 15 minutes of fame were over as he withdrew his bid to take over Rangers, blaming previously unknown financial information that had made him have second thoughts.

Of course, it wasn’t this minor detail that most picked up on. It was Miller’s claim about “hearing the message from Rangers supporters and fans loud and clear (‘Yank go home!’)” that made the headlines. And why I wrote about it in Weir’s Week last week.

The perilous situation Rangers are in seems lost on some of their moronic hordes – especially those with the ability to knock up and print off cheap, but hugely effective, banner advertising …

The final play-off game to decide who will contest the richest match in the world (allegedly) sees Blackpool hold out against Birmingham City, setting up a meeting with West Ham United.

In Scotland, meanwhile, we had our own play-off matches in the First and Second Division. Not that you would have known had you watched the evening news sports bulletins on either BBC’s Reporting Scotland or STV’s Scotland Today. Not a mention of these games.

So Scotland’s broadcasters: even if it was unintentional, you have made all those who follow wee, diddy, no-hoper teams feel even more inferior than they did before.

Shame on you. You’d never get me to ignore them. (By the way, how’s Clydebank doing these days?)

Just a week away from the all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final and fans of Hearts and Hibs (in order of their most recent cup success) have been dealt a blow with an alcohol ban on all trains between the capital and Glasgow on final day.

As I said on talkSport’s Extra Time, I can see why there would be a ban travelling to the match. But surely fans would be able to celebrate on the way home – or, more importantly, drown their sorrows.

But there was even more doom and gloom. The supporters of the winning team will travel back to Edinburgh via Airdrie and Bathgate, with the losing team’s fans going home via Falkirk High.

So if it wasn’t bad enough not being able to drink just to console yourself in defeat, and then having to deal with the fact you’d just lost to your biggest arch-rivals in the biggest game for more than a century, you have to visit Falkirk just to get home.

Falkirk! Oh ScotRail, you have a sick sense of humour …

And if it’s Friday, it must be D-Day again at Ibrox, as the Rangers administrators Duff and Phelps get another chance to practise their technique of waving goodbye to one prospective bidder while welcoming several others at the same time.

The good news is that Craig Whyte (remember him?) has agreed to transfer his majority shareholding to two of the four parties involved in takeover talks.

Whyte’s 85 per cent shareholding in Rangers is required for the club to exit administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

But just a warning to some errant Gers fans. Don’t be displaying any of your Bill Miller-style banners this weekend in Perth, saying what you think of Craig Whyte.

Because he might interpret it as a sign of support, warmth and affection and decide to stay …

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments.

Tom Daley and Max Brick <em>Picture: An Honorable German</em>

Tom Daley and Max Brick Picture: An Honorable German

By Stewart Weir

It was the first opportunity Rangers fans had to both show and voice their support for their club, now perilously close to being their former club.

The game against Kilmarnock saw a clamour for tickets last witnessed in the run-up to the UEFA Cup in Manchester back in 2008. And if that event brought out all that was bad in some elements of the Gers support, then so did Saturday’s show of loyalty.

We didn’t have to wait long until the strains of The Billy Boys were echoing around Ibrox, as some were quick to latch on to, revelling with the texts they were sending. Mistakenly, as it was actually visiting supporters belting out “Hello, hello we are the Killie boys”. Still, an easy mistake to make for untrained news hounds to make.

What was in no doubt was the re-emergence of the F-word, directed mostly – if not entirely – at referee Ian Brines. It was as if some elements of the Rangers following had reverted to (the old) type in this time of crisis.

But, as I had tweeted last week, just who do you fine or take points from when your team is skint and has already suffered a points reduction?

It was unsavoury, and unwelcomed. But then, no officers of the law heard it either. Did they?

The F-word has, or maybe had, been successfully banished from Ibrox. Or at least, from amongst Rangers fans. Because as I mentioned before, seeing Celtic followers at the first Old Firm game of term unfurl a banner declaring “Paddy McCourt’s Fenian Army”.

Again, as I’ve stated before, the F-word is like the N-word. No one else can use it, unless you belong to that ethnic grouping, or culture. Probably got that explanation wrong. But that’s easy to do.

Because of having raised this issue on Sunday afternoon on Twitter, I have to say I was hugely enlightened by what “F” meant to different folks. One tweeter said: “Its a historical term for an Irish Republican. If Rangers fans use that to mean ‘catholic’ then they are clueless.” Which, unless I’m mistaken, is the opposite to what certain church leaders have said.

Someone else offered: “I’m proud to be a Fenian. What those idiots don’t know is a lot of great Fenian leaders and men were not catholic.”

Another involved in the debate reckoned there were few 19th-century Irish historians contained in the stands at Ibrox. Which I would agree entirely with, but would say something not dissimilar about Celtic Park.

Another Hoops fan said: “Don’t see what is confusing about it. You know that they are using it in a derogatory manner. We use it in its traditional meaning” – as explained by this contributor who added: “Depends on the context. If a Celtic mate called me a crazy Fenian in a football sense, its banter.”

All of which, I have to say, took most of an afternoon to explain, several times over, and differently on each occasion.

Then, just when you think you’ve heard the last of it, does BBC Sportscene frontman Rob Maclean (the SFA agenda-setter) not get a fearful bashing on Twitter, because of what people believed he had said, rather than what he actually broadcast around referee Brines and that F-word.

What causes most offence to Celtic folk are references to blood, and whatever prefix or suffix some wish to attach to the F-word. And I couldn’t agree more.

Equally, though, the word shouldn’t be used to taunt or goad others, regardless of how justified you might think it is. Scotland doesn’t need the F-word. So why not just ban it once and for all?

Boxing lives on hype. It always has. Staged aggro at press conferences is all part of the selling process, but occasionally it goes a wee bit too far. Actually, make that a big bit too far.

Calling the weekend eventful for British boxer Dereck Chisora would be an understatement. It began with him slapping Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in for Satuday’s heavyweight title fight, earning him a fine from the World Boxing Council.

He then decided to spit water over Vitali’s brother Wladimir, the WBA/IBF/WBO champion, as the introductions were taking place in the ring ahead of his points loss to Vitali.

But what came afterwards was shameful and comedic. The after-fight press conference turned into the real fight of the evening, with Chisora stepping from the platform to confront former world champion David Haye, who had taken the opportunity to noise up the Klitschkos.

Take a look. There were those who believed this was all staged, one big act to sell tickets to Haye vs Klitschko I, Klitschko II or Chisora. Forget that. These two went for it because they hated each other’s presence.

In an instant, Chisora lost all respect he might have gained from going the distance minutes earlier, while Haye might have lost his career, whether as a film performer, a pundit or a pugilist.

It was embarrassing, dangerous and damaging to boxing and its image. But it was nothing new. I remember more than quarter of a century ago it all kicking off when Errol Christie and Mark Kaylor got a little too close at a photoshoot to promote their forthcoming title fight.

They ended rolling about in the street, and made as many headlines in their day as Chisora and Haye did. The British Boxing Board of Control had their say, and their share of the money from the two of them. But back then we didn’t see it four times an hour for a day-and-a-half afterwards.

In 1985 it was done, dusted and dealt with. You’d struggle to find video of it. Something we won’t be saying 25 years from now about Chisora and Haye.

Scotland coach Craig Levein names his squad for the forthcoming international against Slovenia with some names omitted.

Levein obviously doesn’t fancy Ross McCormack of Leeds United. Sixteen goals this season wasn’t enough to get him a place – and, as he fumed to Ronnie MacKay in the Scottish Sun: “[You have] Craig Mackail-Smith who is not playing for his club, Jamie Mackie is not playing for his club and David Goodwillie is not playing for his club.”

So, they’ll be fresh for Scotland, then …

Another to miss out, again, was Wolves in-form striker (three words that cannot be attached to anyone else who qualifies for Scotland) Steven Fletcher.

One has to admire Levein. He’s sticking to his guns – namely, that until Fletcher says sorry, and tells Levein personally, and first, he won’t be considered.

Just as there is a fine dividing line between genius and madness, so there seems to be little between stubbornness and stupidity.

What will happen next? My betting is that Scotland will need to win their last five games by 4–0 or more to qualify for Brazil, Fletcher will get a recall, fail to score, and then get the blame of Scotland’s non-participation in 2014.

Can I suggest that Fletcher might do it publicly, but in the presence of Levein? Something along these lines I think would greatly impress everyone.

Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been called many things of late. A hearing in London described him as “thoroughly unfit”, while a court in Glasgow referred to him as “wholly unreliable”.

Today, he could have been branded as “slightly forgetful”, “bewilderingly clumsy” or even “abundantly absent-minded”.

See, after denying he had mortgaged off Rangers’ season ticket money to fund his takeover at Ibrox, Mr Whyte suddenly remembered he had profited to the tune of £20 million plus VAT for three years’ worth of tickets, and not £24.4 million over four years as had been reported weeks earlier by the Daily Record.

Obviously, Mr Whyte had been completely thrown by the Record’s figures and increments of time. In his prepared statement, Whyte said regretted not being “more transparent”.

Not actually the case. Because quite a few have seen right through Mr Whyte from the off.

In other news, the diving World Cup is taking place at the London Aquatic Centre, the warm-up (or hose-down) event ahead of this summer’s Olympics.

While Tom Daley is in action, I’m surprised at the non-appearance of Sone Aluko and Garry O’Connor

And administration at Rangers claims its first big-named casualties as director of football Gordon Smith and chief operating officer Ali Russell depart.

While Russell only spoke of his chance to serve the club, Smith launched a broadside at the “owner”, stating: “I was brought in by Craig Whyte but because his control and reputation has been damaged by recent disclosures, I feel my own position has been undermined by association”. Damning, if you ask me.

But spare a thought for Australian internationalist Matt McKay. Because while Smith and Russell were reportedly the “first big-name casualties”, Rangers had already agreed a fee with South Korean club Busan I’Park for McKay.

While he hasn’t departed yet, it tells you something of the impact McKay failed to make when the COO’s departure make more headlines than that of a first-team squad player …

Leaving Ibrox around the same time was a dossier, on its way to Strathclyde Police, containing the findings of administrators Duff & Phelps.

Forced into administration, Rangers have a “wee” tax bill approaching £15m, a “big one” which could be anything up to £75m, and no trace of the £33 million that Craig Whyte says he put into the club’s coffers.

Add up all those figures – and what is owed to other clubs, or what has been hawked off to outside agencies – and you’d need a record-busting EuroMillions win to cover Rangers’ debt.

Although you need two quid to buy one of those tickets …

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz

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Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, track-fighting man <em>Picture: Chell Hill</em>

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, track-fighting man Picture: Chell Hill

By Stewart Weir

Usain Bolt aside, athletics has been up against it in recent times, drugs putting a question mark against everyone. So those in charge of the sport have tried all kinds of marketing ploys to lift the popularity, from Golden to Diamond leagues, strange-coloured vests, and world record attempts at every opportunity.

But it appears they might have cracked it with a completely new event – the middleweight street-fighter 3,000m steeplechase. I know there have been wee neds and polis throughout Scotland participating in this event for years, but never on a world stage.

Watch this and tell me who wouldn’t want this in the 2012 London Olympics or Glasgow 2014?

Channel 5 has live boxing, the British and Commonwealth heavyweight title fight between holder Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury.

Fury took the win on points after 12 rounds, which I had scored 117–112 in his favour. There were some inquisitive looks at me when the MC read out the judges’ scorecards, the first two giving Fury the fight by the same margin. There are those amongst my family and friends who forget what I used to do for a living.

All in all, it was more thud and blunder than blood and thunder, but a good enough scrap nevertheless. I’d score the contest 7/10, above average, because over the years I’ve paid more to watch worse…

The German Grand Prix lost out to a BBQ. I admit, I missed a great race (although I watched the highlights later).

Star performance of the day comes from Mark Cavendish, who won the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris, becoming Britain’s first winner of the green jersey for the race’s best sprinter.

Cavendish deserves the plaudits for his achievement, although what he won was a series of races within one big race. Overall, he finished 130th, ninety-nine places behind the top Brit, Geraint Thomas.

Still, Cavendish rewrote the history books in capturing that green jersey, and had plenty more written about him as a result.

But imagine if he had taken such a title and finished at the head of the field. What media frenzy would have followed that?

Well, back in 1984, that’s what Scotland’s Robert Millar did, winning the King of the Mountains red polka-dot jersey outright and finishing an amazing fourth overall.

But Millar’s incredible performance merited probably a tenth of the exposure in this country that Cavendish’s did.

That’s how much sport has grown in the last quarter of a century. Or do I mean the hype around it?

While he might never have enjoyed the hero-worship of Jimmy White or Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry was always a popular guy.

People presented him with awards aplenty, adoring fans even commissioning special trophies to mark his achievements, with my good friend Neil White’s Waterford Crystal piece commemorating Hendry’s 100 Crucible centuries a particularly striking gift.

Whenever the seven-times world champion was signing autographs, there would be a lengthy queue, with all sorts wanting him to pen their books, photographs, programmes, tickets and the likes – and, in the case of a few daring young ladies, certain parts of their anatomy.

Stephen joked a few months that he was now the property of the granny brigade. But just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse when it came to admirers…

I have to say, all credit to Stephen for posing as an Apache warrior…

While Rangers entertain Malmö (although they struggled to do the same with the home support) in their Champions League qualifier at Ibrox, holders Barcelona are participating in the Audi Cup at the Allianz Arena along with Bayern Munich (who they would eventually defeat in the final), AC Milan and Internacional from Brazil.

Audi spend a shed-load of dosh year-on-year backing their own record-breaking team in endurance car races, especially at Le Mans.

But while there are those out there trying to tell butchers, bakers and candlestick-makers just how wonderful motorsport sponsorship is for brand awareness, here is one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world sinking even more cash (they are official car suppliers to Manchester United) in football.

What does that tell you about the power of the glorious game?

Back to Ibrox, and in the inner bowels of the great stadium ahead of the game, I’m interviewing the legend that is the “Greatest Ever Ranger”, John Greig. “Greigy” is helping me with a few chapters for a book idea I’m working on and complains bitterly that I’ve asked him to recall some details from nearly 50 years ago.

He then rhymes off team-mates, goalscorers, who passed to who and other recollections as if it were yesterday.

What does that tell you about the power of the glorious game?

One year to go to London 2012. 365 days now, or is it 366? It’s a year, anyway. Unfortunately my preparations have been curtailed somewhat by injury (a long-term Achilles problem has flared up again), and the fact that I am still trying to decide what event I want to compete in. This decision-making process will be all the easier once I work out what sport I am going to be good at.

I’m still thinking football, as the token Scot – or judo, as you would get to keep a nice jacket if nothing else.

It might be my imagination, but champion diver Tom Daley has started appearing even more regularly on my TV, fronting the Nestlé “Get Set, Go Free” campaign.

Now as a diver, young Tom is agile, inventive and expressive – all of the things he is not in this advert.

I noted that while he tried out golf and hockey, the kept him well away from horses. Copyright there probably belongs to Zara Phillips.

Of course, there has only ever been one athlete capable of world-class diving and being able to act with it. Watch and learn, Tom, from a master at work.

El-Hadji Diouf has always had the ability to play at the very highest level. He has also had the ability throughout his career to start a fight in an empty hoose.

This week Diouf fell out of love with the Senegal Football Federation (FSF) which banned him for five years after comments he had made on Radio France Internationale, in which he claimed that “the whole system of African football is corrupt”. I couldn’t possibly comment.

But Diouf is naturally upset by the outcome and promised he would “go to war” with the FSF. Well, he wouldn’t be himself if he wasn’t warring with someone. Ask Scott Brown, the players of QPR, and at least one Celtic fan. The list is endless.

This latest spat, coupled with Diouf’s non-appearance for Blackburn’s return for pre-season training, has put his future at Ewood Park in doubt, with Rovers boss Steve Kean indicating that perhaps the time was right for the player to leave the club.

And here was me thinking that Kean had allowed Diouf to play at the tail-end of last season with Rangers, just so he could welcome him back with open arms.

However, there might have been some method in El-Hadji’s madness, missing the making of this.

Maybe Tom Daley isn’t that bad after all…

Northern Ireland’s second-best golfer Rory McIlroy doesn’t like criticism levelled at him by American broadcaster Jay Townsend on Twitter.

After seeing the US Open champion double-bogey the last hole at Killarney, Townsend tweeted: “It was some of the worst course management I’ve ever seen beyond under-10 boys’ golf competition.”

McIlroy countered: “Jay Townsend shut up… you’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing.”

Townsend responded with: “I stand by my comments.”

The Ulsterman retaliated with “Well, I stand by my caddie,” and then revealed: “I have now blocked him on Twitter so I won’t be reading anything more.”

Different sport, different people, different times and different technology.

But you could never see someone like Graeme Souness in his pomp, or Sir Alex Ferguson, resolving their differences with someone by telling them they’d blocked them on Twitter…

Tweet Stewart Weir with thoughts and comments, @sweirz

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Ronnie Moran, Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans. <em>Picture: Wekkuzipp</em>

Ronnie Moran, Kenny Dalglish and Roy Evans. Picture: Wekkuzipp

By Stewart Weir

Paul Whitehouse’s Fast Show character Archie was an old geezer who had matched anything anyone else had done as a profession. Whether it was ballet, bricklaying or bomb disposal he described it as the “hardest game in the world”.

In sporting terms nothing is as hard as boxing. Anyone who has covered the noble art has nothing but admiration for the devotion, dedication and the guts, blood, sweat and tears that goes into making a champion. Unfortunately in most cases, those same commodities are also in abundance in most losers. It’s difficult to follow fighters on their journey (to use an Audley-ism) without feeling some of their pain and anguish when it goes wrong. Like when Gary Jacobs was victim of a home-town verdict in Paris against Ludovic Proto. Or when Donnie Hood was knocked cold by Johnny Bredahl in Copenhagen. Or seeing Drew Docherty dismantled by Vincenco Belcastro.

So while Ricky Burns was maintaining his status as king of the world at Braehead Arena, on the undercard Paul Appleby was probably losing the chance to face Burns in an all-Tartan world title contest next year. Appleby lost on a split decision to Ghana’s Joseph Laryea in their vacant WBO intercontinental super-featherweight title fight. He didn’t just lose; he went home with a “sair coupon” (or sore face from my Firrhill reader). But battered, bruised and cut-up both internally and externally as he was, Appleby still gave an emotional ringside interview minutes afterwards. How my erstwhile colleagues wish many SPL mediocrities were equally forthcoming when the only thing damaged is their egos.

The Sunday Mail Sports Awards (which I mentioned last week and thanks again to Euan McLean for the invite) gets its airing on STV. A slick production and one which is rounded off by the Dalglish family’s challenge to The Osbournes. Wise cracks galore from Kelly, Paul and Kenny, and a funny tribute too from top comic John Bishop. Dalglish, or rather the “King of the Kop” Dalglish, picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award. Brilliant whether with Celtic, Liverpool or Scotland, that his abilities still have the ability to make watchers shake their heads in awe and wonderment some 25, or 30, or 35 years after the event, only emphasises how good we once had it as a country.

The compilation footage of his goals was superb, each cheered and applauded as if they were live, especially his record-breaking strikes for Liverpool, against Ipswich, making him the first player to score a century of goals on both sides of the border for a single club, and his effort to beat Spanish ‘keeper Arconada at Hampden during the qualifier for the ’86 World Cup in Mexico, equalling Denis Law’s tally of 30 goals for Scotland. How good we once had it, particularly when pitched against where we currently are, namely, that the last player in Scotland, who had record-breaking goal-scoring prowess bestowed upon him, is now just a sub at Middlesboro and doesn’t even get quoted internationally …

And to Telford where Stuart Bingham is responsible for the first major upset at snooker’s UK Championship when he reels off five frames on the spin to defeat four-times former winner and arguably the biggest attraction in the game, Ronnie O’Sullivan. At least Ronnie was gracious in defeat with no mentions of his disillusionment with snooker or imminent retirement. Bingham was chuffed, but obviously he still had something of a gripe with “The Rocket.” Said Bingham: “We used to practise together. He would text me and ask if I wanted a game. But he hasn’t texted me for nearly a year.” Probably no Valentine’s Day card then, and Christmas might slip past without so much as a note let alone a gift. Looks like it will be just a table for one again then Stuart …

England, thanks to a superb batting display by the South African-born Kevin Pietersen (he now bats at No 4 behind the South African-born Jonathan Trott who regularly comes in at three to replace their South African-born captain Andrew Strauss) rout the Aussies in Adelaide to go one-up in the Ashes series with three to play. Last time it was 5-0 to the hosts Down Under. But that, as the Australians are now finding out, was when they had a team full of champions; Hayden, Langer, Gilchrist, Lee, McGrath and Warne. All now retired, and all now greatly missed. So missed in fact, that a campaign has started to get Warne in as captain.

Are the Aussies that desperate?

There is something terribly English about The Ashes, the most hyped two-horse race in sport, just pipping the Boat Race in terms of knowing which two teams will always make the final. That I’ve spent many a sleepless night watching events unfold on the other side of the world is merely coincidental.

Back in snookerland, seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry – who just pipped Jimmy White 9-8 in the previous round – goes down 9-6 to Mark Williams in the last 16 of the UK Championship, a match which will last long in the memory only because it was so rank. Afterwards, Hendry reveals he has been battling “the yips” for the last ten years. Does that include David, the former Chinese Detective?

Actually the yips, for those who are wondering, is more commonly associated with golfers, manifesting itself as involuntary movements when playing a shot, or being forced to jerk either cue or club when you freeze on a shot. Darts legend Eric Bristow was another sufferer, although just for him they invented “dartitis”. “On some shots I don’t even get the cue through,” said Hendry. “I think I need to phone Bernhard Langer to see how he got over the ‘yips’ because that’s what I have.”

Hendry’s plight is a sad one. Currently he is a shadow of his former self, judged by some for his performances now and not on his unsurpassed former glories. The thought of Hendry missing out on the Crucible this year is almost unthinkable. But then, at one time, so would be Stephen admitting to such human frailties.

Britain’s Dereck Chisora is right up there when it comes to Who’s Who in boxing circles. Did you see Chisora’s name there and ask yourself “who?” – I rest my case. While David Haye is a heavyweight world champion, Chisora’s bid to match his countryman was stymied after Wladimir Klitschko pulled out of Saturday’s world heavyweight title bout. IBF and WBO champion Klitschko withdrew from the contest in Mannheim, Germany, claiming he had suffered a stomach injury. But little-known Chisora is a threat, not just to Klitschko A and B, but to the whole heavyweight business. The world – and in particular pay-to-view TV – wants to see Haye against Wlad the Lad or his brother Vitali. Chisora, deserving of his opportunity having put pen to paper, could get in the way of those main events. So don’t be surprised that once Wladimir is fit again, it’s David Haye on the bill, and not Dereck Who?

There is said to be a madness brought on by long-term exposure to the whiteout conditions experienced in the Arctic and Antarctic. I had similar symptoms this week, but that was entirely down to a burst central heating pipe. However, you have to wonder if one or two around Motherwell have been afflicted by the same madness.

Take Mr Brown of Fir Park Street. On Monday the snow set in. On Tuesday, he found himself confused and disorientated by an offer to move elsewhere with his trusted friend Archie, who would have been headed back to a former home. On Wednesday Craig (to his friends) was pledging his love, devotion and future to the wee boys to the Wee Alpha and the delights of Steeltown. But by Thursday after making certain demands regarding bringing in new little helpers, he had resigned to be installed immediately as favourite to move north to the Granite City.

While Brown worked without a contract at Motherwell, he might want to work with a safety net, hard hat and bullet-proof vest at Pittodrie. With a wealth of managerial experience, he knows what he is doing. Managing Aberdeen, as Ian Porterfield, Jocky Scott, Alex Smith, Willie miller, Roy Aitken, Alex Miller, Ebbe Skovdahl, Steve Paterson, Jimmy Calderwood and Mark McGhee would confirm, is neither simple or easy.

It never is when you re-locate to a time warp.

Each has tried and failed to live up to the achievements Alex Ferguson. But as he’s slightly tied up and has been for the last quarter of a century, Aberdeen have drawn up a wish list and managed to tick of several boxes in advocating wee Broon as the man. For instance, he must have played with Rangers, and must have been mentioned at least once for the Ibrox managerial role; must be able to apply for a bus pass, must have formerly managed the Scotland international team at a World Cup, must have called on the services from time to time of James Leighton and Andrew Goram, must be able to identify a decent filly and must have a working relationship with Archie Knox. So Craig Brown is more of perfect candidate that it first appears. And if it all goes wrong, at least the pension will have been sufficiently topped up.