Another different sport comes under the ghostly spotlight today, the favourite game of those who hate sport, yes, it’s anyone for tennis today. All because we must properly recognise the efforts of Scotland's favourite son in getting GB to the Davis Cup final single handed. Or as near to single handed as makes no difference. I am warming to Mr Murray. He may generally adopt the demeanour of a man who has found a pound and lost a tenner, but he can play the game. And he certainly has a fighting spirit. He must have to have carried the bunch of turkeys he has to call team mates as far as he has. But it looks suspiciously like falling at the last hurdle doesn't it? Against the sporting super power that is modern Belgium? Looks like a bridge too far to me. Hope I'm wrong of course. And they will be playing indoors, so I suppose the chances of old Cliff getting up to give us a tune when it rains are limited....
View from the cemetery
A small discourse on the wider sporting world this evening, and I was particularly tickled by news of the little bit of a rumpus at the ladies golf over the weekend. Solheim Cup, women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup, our ladies, or certainly females, against those of the old USA. And would you credit it, one of the European team pulled the old "I didn't concede that putt" routine to win a vital hole. On the telly as well. Naughty, but a common trick amongst the more rough and ready school of golfer, though not so generally the pros. And of course it served only to wind the Yanks up so that they finished like trains and won the match. Cheats never prosper they say, unless you are playing up front for Chelsea of course. I played in a bit of a tough old golf school in years gone by. Dodgy maths, even when counting up to five, suspiciously timed coughing and hawking on the tee, not to mention the old leather wedge out of the bushes when they thought no one was watching. You know who you are.
Eleven points from nine games, so OK? Yes, I think so. Not all gone to plan obviously, it never does, but some tough games involved so a steady start is a decent start I reckon. Plenty of time to pick things up, and not chasing our tails this year, And plenty of goals. Sadly so far at both ends, but those who like to see the old onion bag bulging can't complain about our lads. And the usual turn over of players coming in and out as the manager, any manager, decides he was wrong about someone and needs to move them in or out.
Most airlines take an unhelpful view of people in my condition, so the way home from our previously discussed sojourn in Italy is by road, over the Alps and up through Germany to Rotterdam, a decent old run to be fair, and obviously uphill on the way back.
Germany is an interesting place, great beer, hardly any English tourists, lots of trees, hundreds of quaint little towns who seem glad to see visitors, superb free motorways, from which you can see, amongst other things, hundreds of excellent little football stadiums in the aforementioned quaint little towns. Difficult to write a match report at 70 mile an hour, but they seemed to be cracking on canny. Might suggest a German tour for the lads. Mind, one lot were playing American football so I paid little attention to them.
The transfer window is about to bang shut and the SoL faithful still hold their breath and bite their nails. Which is quite an achievement. For what it's worth, and I writing as I am early in the week I might be right or wrong already here, I think it will be a frantic few days of ins and outs for Sunderland. I don't think Dick Advocaat is one to let life pass him by. But generally there will be relief when it's over and everybody gets on with what they have. If only it was the same in the NL. The constant threat of the merry go round during the season is a headache for most managers, although exploited by some, generally those with the most resources of course. Don't think fans like it, they want to identify with players and watch the development of lads over time and share the sense of all being in this together.
Cemeteries in Italy are interesting places; the locals are still quite big on the kind of over the top memorials that went out of fashion in Victorian times back home. Much use of marble columns, cherubs, angels and the like. And, which has never been our style, pictures of the deceased themselves, though rarely looking cheerful, which is I guess understandable. Although mostly of a damn good age, despite the still largely universal tabs habit. All that olive oil I guess. I mention this as today's thoughts come from over a fence on the shores of Lake Garda rather than the more usual tatty structure in Ryhope, and more to the point, without a view of a football pitch. But still with a view of football. Kids in Italy still seem keen on kicking a ball about in car parks and on the street in a way ours aren't much any more. Makes me quite nostalgic. Big kids running rings round littler kids, the occasional bloke joining in for a couple of minutes till 30 years of fags starts to take its toll, and one side's goal always twice the size of the other. Do they play 20 half time and 40 the winner like we did? I hope so. And always a white ball so you can play in the dark. And the one with the ball is king.
Well, they said it looked like a tough start, and they weren’t kidding were they? Though it might well have been different if we had taken our chances last Saturday. Consett looked a solid side but we coped well overall, and were certainly always in the game. Tuesday night was more testing. Early days, but I am told by my travelling correspondent that Dunston looked the real deal, even if we competed throughout and the scoreline maybe flattered them a bit. There are a few sides who have started like a house on fire, and we seem to be engaged with most of them over the next few games!