Barry Davies got it right…

23 Mar

He did, didn’t he? Barry wasn’t being blinded by Kirsty Young’s deliciousness when he revealed that on his Desert island, memory of the GB Men’s Hockey gold winning performance in Seoul ’88 outstripped all other sports achievements he had witnessed. Cup finals and Wimbledon. World Cups and World title fights. Golfing greats and grand prix grids. For all his long years at the microphone, Bazza was most moved by a bunch of dedicated amateurs, led by Dodds the doc in centre mid, protected by Taylor the teach between the sticks and spearheaded by crusher Kerly, the ferocious hockey bum up front.

I’m hoping that you already know why. Flash forward 24years to the moral maze of a Tevez reverse pass which put Samir Nasri in for a possibly Man City Premiership title. Or reflect on the £6million per annum paid out for the failure of Mr Capello. Barton the averagely talented thug tweeting while stuffing his £80,000 per week into his portfolio; Terry on £150,000 magnanimously saying that he’ll support Di Matteo until the season’s end. And dear old Barry, who has commentated on more soccer matches than most of us have had pints of beer (FA Chairmen excluded) plumps for the excitement of a sport which boasts no cash incentives at all.

Is it only me who thinks that soccer is dull? The pre-match travel and chat and pub, followed by post match analysis and pub, is so much better better than the boring 90 minutes sandwiched inbetween. Goals not given when they are further over the line than a Jim Davison joke; perfectly good goals being ruled out for offside; countless penalty appeals for shirt-tugging waved away by hapless officials and scoffed at by Hansen et al as part and parcel of the game. The more I watch the more uneasy and uninterested I become. I switch over, turn off; catch the end to see the score; worry that, as a lifelong fan, I couldn’t care less. And the Tevez affair tells us just how far down the toilet our national game has been flushed.

This summer will be so much more uplifting than last. The punishing endeavour of athletes who win and who lose; the hope, ambition and glorious naivety of sportsmen and women on a journey of discovery where the taking part really is as much as the winning. Pride and passion before greed. That’s what our Bazza saw in the heroics of the hockey gold medallists. It took him back to the simple fun of youth sport; reminded him of why he had spent a lifetime playing and watching sport; reinvigorated his belief in the power of sport to transform, to make us all feel better.

I have a ticket for the hockey. I don’t care who plays whom. I want some of that Seoul spirit that Barry Davies has bottled and taken to his Desert Island. As for soccer’s dire state…well perhaps, only perhaps, Lionel Messi can breathe some life into a game which celebrates lowest common denominators and highest common pay packets.

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