BODY language and hindsight are wonderful things that often go together.
I might have known Gareth Southgate was going to get the sack at Middlesbrough if only I’d followed my gut instinct.
During Boro’s recent loss to Watford, Gareth, one of the good guys in the game, barely left his seat in the dugout, as though he’d run out of things to say to players being booed for the third home game running.
Jack Charlton once told me the life span of a manager at the same club was four years.
After that either he or the players has to go.
At his post-match press conference Gareth tried to put a brave face on it but in his heart of hearts knew his time was up.
IT was like a scene from All the President’s Men or Live and Let Die.
The 195 kilometre journey between Abuja and Kaduna took just two-and-a-half hours because our two mini-vans, flanked front and rear by police escorts, red lights flashing, sirens blaring, raced through villages that became a blur.
Babes in arms, women with baskets on their heads, chickens and goats were sent scattering for cover, often ending up in a street vendor’s fruit stall or sprawled amid the local potter’s latest work of art.
Armed guards, with rifles cocked, glowered menacingly at anyone daring a glance, but they should have known all this palaver is because the World Cup for Under 17 footballers is in town.
Eight cities in Nigeria actually, not that anyone in England seems to know about it.
As usual the United Kingdom is oblivious because none of our teams made it to the finals, the likes of Algeria, Gambia and Switzerland have, but I doubt you’ll see any footage in our Premier League obsessed country.
Nigeria is a nation of power cuts, corruption, strikes (police and students last week), overcrowding, cockroaches, bad timekeeping, flash floods, mosquitoes and battered old bangers.
Which brings me to Ladies of the Night. Our hotel bar was a magnet for them until one of our number, commentator Tony Lockwood, complained at the security briefing that he couldn’t enjoy a nice, quiet beer without being intimidated.
One hopeful ‘Lady’ apparently liked “his height”, my glasses and another colleague Trevor Harris’s hair.
She will have been mightily miffed when, Hey Presto, a banning order on prostitutes was instituted within hours of Tony’s protest.
Security is paramount, visibly over the top but understandable in a country renowned for kidnapping and riots.
One of my guards is John Sheriff, a Hull FC fan, originally from Cleckheaton, now a Close Protection Specialist in Afghanistan and Nigeria.
His hero is Steve “Knocker” Norton, a rugby league legend even he wouldn’t tangle with.
Even more astonishing was the discovery that FIFA’s Venue Manager in Kaduna, Javier Belendez, lives in Madrid but supports Scunthorpe United!
Not Real Madrid, certainly not Atletico for him, he loves coming to Glanford Park and has a tear in his eye as he recalls fellow Spaniard Alex Calvo Garcia’s play-off winning goal for the Iron at Wembley.
Told you Nigeria was full of surprises, a bit like grilled gizzard on the menu last night.
APART from the fact that one Terry Ricketts from Kirkheaton is responsible for the commentators’ words getting to air in Nigeria, one other aspect of local life has astonished me while I’ve been in this wonderful country.
Nigeria’s “truly national newspaper” The Nation devoted 13 full pages on Friday to the birthday of 93 year-old Chief (Mrs) Abibatu Mogaji.
Pictured in an amazing array of colourful flowing gowns and headdresses, the grand old lady warrants tributes varying from “An Amazon of Virtue” to “A Tower of Strength and Wisdom”.
I just hope she can inspire Mr Ricketts to make my microphone work!