France turns crowd trouble into a national sport
Just what is happening across the channel this season? In August we had Nice fans peppering the pitch with bottles and detritus, before Marseille’s Dimitri Payet decided to return the favour, and launched one of the missiles right back where it came from. Then, for good measure, he chucked another. The match was abandoned.
Meanwhile, the derby with Lens and Lille in September was delayed for over half an hour after a sizeable pitch invasion that home officials wouldn’t be able to pass off as a “small minority of idiots”.
Nice were docked two points, with one suspended, for their troubles. However this week has seen Marseille - and Payet - back in the thick of the action. Thick being the operative word as Payet copped the thick end of a full-to-the-brim bottle chucked at him by someone in the Lyon end during the Olympico derby. Filled with who knows what, but if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say piss.
“We send him our apologies” tweeted the president of Lyon after the game. But that’s not really likely to wash, is it? Can’t be having footballers getting wiped out by projectiles.
Question is, why is it happening? Did lockdown cause everyone on the Cote d’Azur to take leave of their senses? In the case of Nice, it was their first match in a full stadium for 18 months, and it’s a pretty remarkable way to announce the return of supporters. Imagine that happening when Sunderland played Wigan - I know some fans of the Black Cats could be described as mouth breathing morons, or coked-up babies with faces that could crack pavements like some of the 16-year olds at away games, but even I wouldn’t expect that to happen on Wearside.
France does have a history of violence at football matches, but then again Newcastle United fans have a history of punching horses, trashing their city after a defeat and hounding out Sir Bobby Robson, so the past doesn’t necessarily justify the present.
Jozy Altidore is a curious man. The very fact he features on these pages this week is strange. For a man who scored a whopping one league goal in 42 matches for Sunderland, he is held in remarkably good esteem. Even people who called him ‘Dozy Antiscore’ probably felt a little bit bad about doing so at the time.
Perhaps it was that flick against the Mags that garnered such affection.
Or perhaps it’s because the further we drop, the better player he becomes.
Well, for all those who adopt that mindset, I have good news. His departure from Toronto is being finalised, and he should become a free agent from next year. From the end of the previous sentence to reading this one, who thought “he’d be a good signing in League One?” Remember when we all said that about Victor Anichebe?
Meanwhile, somewhere in Gateshead, Danny Graham is choking on his double Big Mac wondering why he didn’t attract such adulation for his goalscoring ‘haul’. Clue: you were late for your first day at training because you got hammered the previous night, played like a man who didn’t really want to be there, and generally looked like a precursor to the terrible Lee Camp days of the Championship season. Want me to go on, Danny?
Nevertheless, the sight of Jozy tearing it up at Sincil Bank... ah be still my beating heart. I say: bring him home!
Shaun Murphy goes snooker loopy
Now it’s not that often you’ll see a non-football story in the Ramble. However, sometimes a person engages in such all-round whoppery it would seem pretty silly not to grant them the highest of honours.
Step forward Shaun Murphy.
Everyone will know someone like him, even if you don’t know Mr Murphy. He is the avuncular, jovial, slightly portly ex-World Champion snooker player. A committed Christian and a thoroughly all-round straight up chap, if he were to be believed.
Well just because you believe in God it doesn’t mean you’re automatically a nice person. In fact, you can be a bit of a dick. Hold on, hold on, I’m Catholic, I’m allowed to say such things.
This week, you’ll have probably seen that Murphy has found himself front and centre of a row about whether amateurs should be allowed to compete in professional snooker tournaments. In a post-match interview after being humped by an... amateur.
“It’s not fair” he beebled, after losing the deciding frame to 19-year old Si Jiahui. “This is our livelihood. This is how I put food on the table. This is how I earn money.” Not content with that, he continued to ram home the point: ”We are self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team. It is wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who is not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am.”
That’s Shaun Murphy, who has only managed to scrape together over £4m in career earnings. The very same Shaun Murphy, in fact, who entered qualifying for 2019’s Open Championship as an amateur for - wait for it, wait for it - “a laugh”.
“Golf isn’t my livelihood.” He said in the run up to his golfing debut. “It doesn’t really matter to me if I win or lose. I won’t be under the pressure they are under... I am just trying to have a good day out.”
Jeez, Shaun. You knob.
“That’s one of my bucket list things gone!” he chortled happily as he spoke to Sky’s cameras after his 12-over round of 84.
Funny that because one of Si Jiahui’s bucket list items was to beat a miserable, classless, underperforming, hypocritical berk from Northamptonshire. Amazing what we dream of isn’t it?
Just think of what genuine, aspiring talent he deprived of a place in qualifying. He’s got such a brass neck I’m surprised he managed to land any pots at all this week.