All in the Game: Don’t join MI5 anytime soon Mark Halsey

Robbie Savage: ‘the most insecure person ever’, and Hamburg’s wee Wildpinklers

 Mark Halsey spoke about “Back The Whistleblowers” under the cover of anonymity, but he didn’t do a very good job of being secretive. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mark Halsey spoke about “Back The Whistleblowers” under the cover of anonymity, but he didn’t do a very good job of being secretive. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

 

Halsey’s issue with anonymity

Online bookies Betfair launched its “Back The Whistleblowers” campaign last week, the aim of which is to highlight the contribution made by match officials to the game at every level, and to raise awareness of the dog’s abuse they often suffer. Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal and Petr Cech teamed up with the company for a launch video, which also featured former Premier League referee Mark Halsey.

“Betfair will release a series of ‘secret referee’ blogs alongside the campaign which give a fascinating insight into the role of match officials,” read the press release, the first of which also appeared last week.

The referee in question, we were told, only agreed to do the interview, in which he spoke about his experience dealing with abuse from players, managers and supporters alike, “under the cover of anonymity”.

An extract: “I remember sending off John Terry in a game versus Manchester City and he knocked on my dressing room door after the game. In the end we had a pleasant discussion and he understood why I had sent him off but he still didn’t agree with it.”

Football 365 dusted down its old match reports. Their advice to the “secret referee” who spoke under the cover of anonymity? “Don’t join MI5, Mark Halsey.”

Hamburg in a wee bit of bother

It was a good few years back, before it was partially rebuilt for the 2014 World Cup, that Brazil’s legendary Maracana stadium had a bit of a problem: it was crumbling. An engineer by the name of Luis Eduardo Cardoso was brought in to investigate the issue and concluded that its chief cause was . . . wee.

“The supporters could not be bothered queuing up to go to the toilets,” he said. “The damage is so bad . . . the ammonia from the urine acts with amazing speed. It penetrates the concrete and acts like an acid on the steel girders.”

So, when Bundesliga side Hamburg tweeted last week (in German, obviously) “Feral pissers are not wanted! Not in our living room!”, they weren’t just being cranky, they’re possibly fearful that their Volksparkstadion will crumble too.

The stadium’s visitors have, then, been warned that if they’re caught ferally weeing they’ll be chucked out by security.

Best of all, Hamburg introduced us to the German word for those who pee in public: Wildpinklers.

At which point our education was complete.

Best Mug of the Week . . .

That’d be the one manufactured by Stoke-on-Trent company Foley China in honour of Peter Crouch’s 100th Premier League goal.

The most excellent thing about it is that it’s nine inches tall, as a salute to Crouch’s loftiness, and shows the fella doing his celebratory robot dance.

Also in Foley China’s rather unique range, incidentally, is a mug showing Eric Cantona kung-fu-kicking that Crystal Palace fan, and another called ‘Plums’ which depicts Vinnie Jones rather (in)famously squeezing Paul Gascoigne’s bits.

And who wouldn’t want their morning cuppa out of that?

Word of mouth

“Unfortunately he jumped in to my elbow” - Zlatan Ibrahimovic clarifying that incident with Tyrone Mings. These things happen.

By the numbers

15 - That’s how many times Middlesbrough’s woodwork has been hit this season, more than any other club, according to Opta. The really amazing thing, though, is that somebody actually counts these things.

Word of Mouth (I)

“I was the most insecure person ever. To the point where when I signed for Derby and was having a shocker, you know those chat boards? I made up a name, went on them and used to say, ‘Robbie played really well today, didn’t he?’”

Robbie Savage. We dread to think what replies he got.

“I know the story of the Titanic. In my case, the adventure has started well, but I’m always realistic. Football is an open sea. In good times, the storm can arrive at any time. I cannot relax.”

Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini on learning that the unsinkable passenger liner left from the city he now calls home, and then sank.

“I parted ways with my father in October 2013. He was angry and felt aggrieved. He even deleted my Twitter account as an administrator and I lost millions of followers.”

Mesut Ozil on the gravest consequence of him falling out with his Da, his former agent. #Gutted.

Word of Mouth (II)

“I didn’t go to the Fifa gala and I will never go again. I have no problem saying I will never go to a Fifa gala.”

Why won’t Luis Suarez go to Fifa galas? Because they banned him for nine months for nibbling on Giorgio Chiellini. As miscarriages of justice go, it’s not exactly in the top ten.

“I cannot answer every single press conference about Sergio Aguero. He is so happy, I am so happy, we are so happy. Ten times I answer, no more please.”

Pep Guardiola? How’s Sergio?

“I don’t know what is going to happen in the future but I know my wife won’t be happy with me at home for two to three years. Maybe she’ll now accept the British weather if that’s the alternative.”

Job-hunting Luis Enrique, who’s stepping down as Barcelona boss at the end of the season, on his wife’s previous refusal to move to England for rain and cold reasons.

Bruno not too sorry

Having been linked with big moves to Europe, AC Milan and Barcelona, the future of Brazilian Bruno Fernandes de Souza’s goalkeeping career didn’t look too bright back in 2010, him being sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Considering, though, that he’d been convicted of murdering a woman with whom he’d had a child, his motive that she was looking for child support, there were those who reckoned he’d got off lightly enough. Not least after a cousin of his had testified that his victim was dismembered and fed to his dogs.

But after serving less than seven years, Bruno was released last month while he appeals his conviction. And he’s also free to seek work. How many clubs want to hire him? None?

“Almost 10 clubs have already shown interest,” his agent Lucio Veloso Coutinho declared, “we cannot mention them all now for contractual reasons.”

Were they impressed by his remorse? “I paid dearly, it was not easy . . . it has been a learning experience.” Gawd love him.

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