Spectator sport

A triumph for brutality

28 April 2016

1:00 PM

28 April 2016

1:00 PM

It’s always good to see a great con trick in action. Take Boris Johnson: not really the lovable quick-witted scamp with a good line in Latin gags and a few problems in the trouser department, but a ruthless opportunist with a dreadful attitude to women and a strong line in extreme rudeness to visiting presidents. Not what he seems at all. I’m beginning to feel the same about Leicester City.

Wonderful story and all that: fairy-tale, Jamie Vardy, blah blah. Enough already. ‘Uncle’ Claudio Ranieri has brilliantly and charmingly pulled the wool over our eyes with his free -pizzas and ‘dingly-dong, dingly-dong’ stuff about waking up dozy players, all done in a comedy Italian accent straight out of a 1950s Sophia Loren flick. The reality is that Leicester are clearly the biggest bunch of lump-it-long, kick ’em high players since Billy Bremner’s Leeds circa 1972. And everybody knows it. They walloped a dismal Swansea at the weekend and at one point their powerful, speedy midfielder Jeffrey Schloop raced down the left, roared past a hapless Swansea defender and duly made the second goal. Up in the commentary box, they made the point that if any attacker had tried to do that to Leicester, central defenders Wes Morgan or Robert Huth would have made sure he ended up in Row Z.

As it is, Leicester will be the first team to take the title without one memorable performance — with the possible exception of their home victory over Liverpool, and that was really only a couple of good goals against a struggling side. It’s essentially a team put together by Nigel Pearson, one of the less likeable people to work in elite-level football: a triumph of brutality over the beautiful game, and just because it came cheap everyone swoons. Still, fair play. They are going to win the title with games to spare and it’s a great story.

Talking of which I wonder how Jamie Vardy: The Movie is going. Talk of a biopic of the former non-leaguer with a turn of speed and a quick temper has been doing the rounds. But there could be problems. ‘Well, Mr Spielberg, the second draft is looking pretty good. The casino scene? Where the hero shouts: “Jap. Yo Jap. Walk on. Oi, walk on. Yeah, you Jap. Walk on.” Yes, that has gone, Mr Spielberg, as you suggested. And the incident with the umpire? They call them referees over there, sir. When our hero appears to call him a very rude word and jabs his finger in his eye? That one? Yes, that’s gone too, sir. We want a feelgood story here.’

Holy guacamole, as Matty ‘Haydos’ Hayden would have it, the Indian Premier League is back, bigger and better than ever. And so are the dancers. Not bigger, though. How do you become an IPL dancer? Are there talent scouts? As we know from Strictly, the best dancers are eastern European, so probably don’t know the rules of T20 too well, but who’s worried? Do they look for people who couldn’t quite cut it at the Bolshoi? Or are they from the world of table, lap and pole? I like to think there’s a T20 Dance Corporation dishing out central contracts. The Caribbean Premier League would be tempting to some, though attracting top talent to the Quetta Gladiators franchise in the Pakistan League might be a stiffer task. It’s a whole new tasselled world out there for the girls with the moves.

The Grim Reaper has been having a helluva season. Cliff Michelmore at 97 was the equivalent of tap-in by the far post with the keeper stranded, but Prince at 57 was a bicycle kick into the top left-hand corner from the edge of the box. One can’t help but wish the diminutive superstar had expired at the same time as Ronnie Corbett. An enterprising undertaker could surely have laid these little maestros toe-to-toe in the same coffin, thereby saving more of our planet’s precious resources.

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