independent

Monday 16 September 2019

From the wonderful to the downright weird

Weird Wide World of Sport

Sam Allardyce wasn't too pleased with Watford mascot Harry the Hornet
Sam Allardyce wasn't too pleased with Watford mascot Harry the Hornet

Dave Devereux

Good old Christmas, the one day of the year that's there to show us what a dreadful, insufferable bore that life would be without sport.

Don't get me wrong I love the festive season with all the trimmings and particularly the time spent with loved ones, but I tire of the offerings on television quicker than Sam Allardyce can get himself out of the dole queue and into a new job.

In truth I never spend a huge amount of time in front of a television screen anyway, preferring to go for a walk or cycle to breathe in the clean air when I can, do a bit of reading or listen to some tunes but Christmas is the one day that I yearn for a bit of entertainment on the box.

Sadly most of what's on offer is about as appealing as cold brussel sprouts lathered in lumpy gravy, so a bit of live sporting action would certainly go a long way to while away a few hours.

Of course sport is not always guaranteed to be as joyous as the kids' beaming faces on Christmas morning or as entertaining as an over enthusiastic uncle after one too many sherrys.

A 0-0 draw between Burnley and West Bromwich Albion can be as depressing and energy-sapping as a festive episode of Eastenders, but the beauty is you never know when you're going to get a sporting feast that's as uplifting as a spandex underpants after a gluttonous helping of turkey and ham.

St. Stephen's Day is then a thing of beauty as memorable sporting moments scramble from the ashes of Christmas Day like a wondrous Phoenix spreading its wings and appearing in all its beauty from the flames.

The National Hunt horse racing season really bursts into life, and across the pond at Kempton Thistlecrack announced himself as the horse to beat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March with a blistering performance in the King George VI Chase.

On this side of the Irish Sea, despite signs of late that the Willie Mullins empire could be challenged, he put the cheeky pretenders to his throne in their place by sending out winners left, right and centre with the imperious Min giving a jumping masterclass.

Never mind the twelve days of Christmas, in the glittering world of Premier League football top dogs Chelsea made it twelves wins in a row as they continue to shine like the brightest star for king Conte.

Arsenal and Manchester City both huffed and puffed like a jogger after too many mince pies before putting away West Brom and Hull City respectively, with Albion stubbornly holding firm like wrapping paper with far too much sellotape before, like a determined child, Giroud burst the gift open with a glorious header.

Manchester United continued their recent resurgence, but you sense that it's too little, too late, like Santa Claus leaving the presents under the tree on New Year's Eve instead of a week earlier.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the final entry in most A to Z columns of the sporting year, but he continues to prove he's no z-lister by banging in the goals.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan showed he's not too bad either with an inventive strike, even though he was more offside than I'd be with the wife if I failed to return home from the pub for the dinner on St. Stephen's Day.

To show that it's the time of year when miracles really do happen even Andy Carroll managed to get a goal as a rejuvenated West Ham put Swansea City to the sword, although I'd probably score against Bob Bradley's side given their defence is as leaky as a rusty chamber pot.

There may have been wonderful and rare sights in England's top flight as the festive magic weaved its way into our sitting rooms, but there was also the downright weird as well.

Leicester City fans wore Jamie Vardy masks to show their support for the suspended striker in their 2-0 home defeat to Everton, with the England international even donning one himself. It's Christmas lads, not bloody Halloween.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace boss, Big Sam Allardyce, wasn't long about getting himself back in the headlines, fuming that Harry the Hornet was out of order and calling for the FA to take action, after the Watford mascot mocked Wilfried Zaha by diving in front of him.

You wouldn't get that sort of drama on Fair City or Coronation Street!

Wexford People