AFTER a surfeit of international football recently, it was a joy to get back to watching good old fashioned English football last weekend – and Huddersfield Town in excellent form.
Town were breathtaking in thrashing Wycombe and isn’t it refreshing to see a team play with two wide men.
I’ve always thought Gary Roberts was a class act since first casting an eye on him at Accrington Stanley, and Anthony Pilkington is just as destructive on the opposite flank.
From the Galpharm, I dashed across the Pennines to witness another absorbing encounter between Rochdale and Chesterfield, who possess perhaps the best poacher in League Two in Jack Lester.
You can tell I’ve been starved of my bread and butter can’t you – two games in one day and both crackers.
Talking to scouts who had also been to both games they were similarly enthusiastic about the quality, particularly Huddersfield under the influence of Lee Clark and Terry McDermott, and we were all agreed that for all it faults our game is still the most watchable in the world when it’s played like it was on Saturday.
AS A cricketing purist I’ve never been a great fan of Twenty20, while acknowledging it’s influence in bringing youngsters into the fold, but I have to admit the batting of Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan was hypnotic last week.
To possess the technique that enabled him to almost flat-bat a six over the wicketkeeper’s head into the stands at the Wanderers was quite breathtaking.
He was innovative, explosive, destructive and fantastic box office and I’m glad we won the match simply because his contribution deserved it.
In a more orthodox fashion he struck Dale Steyn for a six over mid-wicket that went so far the ball struck the fifth floor of a neighbouring block of flats.
England have a chance with this man in form, just as Chris Gayle can win a match for the West Indies almost single handedly in the space of half-a-dozen overs, and with Bosman equally eye-catching for the Springboks this is one series not to be missed.
THE final pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that make up the 2010 World Cup are being put into place today and then the build up to football’s greatest showpiece will really gather momentum.
Having already received my schedule I’m excited about the prospects in South Africa and can’t wait to grab hold of a microphone in Johannesburg, Rustenburg and Cape Town, where I’ll be headed next week for the final draw.
The footballers of France, Portugal, Russia, etc. who still have work to do in tonight’s second leg qualifiers don’t yet know for certain that they will be on board however.
It would be a shame if the likes of Andriy Arshavin, Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry are not in South Africa, but it is no foregone conclusion that their countries will be successful tonight, and no player has a divine right to play in the World Cup – remember George Best?
Slovenia, for example, are quite capable of overturning a single-goal deficit against the Russians, while the French campaign has been a faltering one because of their refusal to sack the despised, bumbling, eccentric Raymond Domenech, who lost the trust of players long ago.
Having covered all but one of the World Cup finals since 1978 – ITV discarded me shortly before the 1998 finals in France – it is the blue riband event to which I look forward most of all.
Commentating on the final in Soccer City in Johannesburg in July will be another milestone for me, and knowing millions around the world will envy me, only serves to heighten the honour I feel.
I think I would retire happily if it just so happened that England were to win the World Cup with my voice on the winning goal.
To be honest I can’t see that happening, though we do have our best chance since 1990, and events in Doha at the weekend underlined our problem.
The strength in depth just isn’t there, and I dread to contemplate an England squad without a Gerrard, Lampard, Terry or Rooney.
We can’t afford any one of that quartet to get injured, but let’s look on the bright side for now. At least we know we’re already invited to the party.