Gazza ready and willing for secret fishing mission in Fiji
TV View: Saturday was very nearly the 14th anniversary of Nottingham Forest beating Chelsea 7-0 in a fixture in the old first division. An extraordinary result considering Chelsea were on the up at the time - after all, they had triumphed in the Zenith Data Systems Cup final only a few months before, a trophy that still eludes Roman Abramovich, and probably always will.TV View
This nugget of info has nothing to do with anything at all, except to act as further proof it's a weird and wonderful game. Forest were relegated to the old third division on Saturday and Chelsea, well, when Sky Sport's cameras focused on that woman crying in the stands at the end of the game we were moved to say: "We know how you feel, love, we know how you feel."
Her tears, though, were tears of joy. Judging by her youthfulness, she wasn't around when Chelsea last won the league, although that reminds us. While searching for a documentary on 14th century Persian sculpture last week we stumbled upon one of those Anne Robinson-presented programmes, the ones that show amusing little telly out-takes and cost about £2.57 to make.
Reporter: "Are you going to watch the match tonight?" Little boy: "Yeah." Reporter: "How long have you been supporting Manchester United?" Little boy: "Six." Reporter: "Six years?" Little boy: "Yeah." Reporter: "How old are you?" Little boy: "Four." There is, then, a kind of timelessness to football supporting, so maybe that woman in the stands wasn't actually around in body 50 years ago, but was present in spirit.
Kerry Dixon was present in both body and spirit in Sky's studio on Saturday, an impartial guest for the day that was in it, apart from the moment he went "Yeeeeeeeeeeeees" when the final whistle blew. The sight of Kerry was nostalgically comforting for non-Blues, a reminder of happier days, when Chelsea's galacticos were the likes of Mark Stein and Robert Fleck and Vinnie Jones and Dave Beasant. And John Spencer. Remember him? Possibly the smallest man ever to play professional football. So small, fans used to sing "Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go" every time he was on the ball.
God be with the days. This was Ray Houghton's central message last Wednesday when he was asked by his RTÉ colleagues how many of the current Liverpool team would have got in the side he played in.
"He very modestly said none," said Eamon Dunphy, "but six of them wouldn't have got in the Millwall team I played in.
"Liverpool's defence is a disaster waiting to happen," said Dunphy at half-time in the Champions League semi-final, "they'll have to pay before the end of the game, there's no way you can go 0-0 and defend like that."
So, naturally enough, the game finished 0-0. And neither Dunphy nor Houghton could figure out quite how that Liverpool defence hadn't conceded a goal, although they suspected it had something to do with Chelsea not scoring.
"(Djimi) Traore's having a nightmare," said Dunphy. "(Sami) Hyypia and Traore are a disaster waiting to happen," said Houghton. Over on Sky Sports. "Once again Hyypia was absolutely outstanding," said Ray Wilkins. "I agree," said Phil Thompson, "he was fantastic, but the two full backs did very, very well." And Traore was one of the full backs.
No wonder we get confused, almost as confused as Paul Gascoigne when he was asked to take the job of manager of the Fijian national team, but only so he could work for MI6 and report on how much plutonium the country was importing for its new nuclear power station. "Right," he said. "How patriotic are you?" the MI6 man asked him, "give me a percentage." "Oooooh, 45, 40 per cent, like," said Gascoigne. "Like knowing the national anthem and stuff like that?" he asked, admitting the only bit of the anthem he knew was the word "Queen".
"Well, when the queen mother died, did you cry?" "I did when Lady Diana died. The queen mother? I was upset, like, but . . ." Mercifully, he stopped himself before saying: ". . . but then she'd a long innings."
Anyway, he was up for it, he was prepared to serve his country and while chatting to the Fijian authorities about wing backs and zonal marking throw in a question about "fishing rods". "No, fission rods," said the MI6 man. "Right," said Gazza.
Alas, he was merely a victim of ITV's Celebrity Stitch-Up, which we stumbled upon while looking for that documentary on the Greek poet Archilochus, a particular favourite of ours. Not as favoured by us, though, as Ted Walsh. At Punchestown last week? "She's only a bit of a thing," he said of a filly, "you could make a sandwich out of her."
As Gazza might put it, "Right."