Thursday, January 01, 2009

Can it be that it was all so simple then?

This is 2009. Here’s a photograph of Michael Clive Teague to start the year off merrily.

There’s plenty to look forward to this year. The two greatest sporting events in the whole wide bleedin' world approach this summer. The British and Irish Lions will contest a series of rugby union internationals in South Africa followed almost immediately by Australia visiting these shores for a long awaited Ashes tour. Personally, I can’t wait for either. I have mentioned to the charismatic D the possibility of sneaking a day at the cricket and we must ensure that at least one eye is kept on ticketing arrangements. I have watched one day of Ashes cricket, at the historic Lord’s ground back in 1993, when I witnessed the valiant Atherton reach a deserved nine-and-ninety only to be run out after a disastrous call by the portly Gatting. The malevolent cat-calls and vocal abuse aimed at the bearded and squat ‘Gatts’ afterwards shall live long in the memory. This year, I fancy England to sneak a series win but it shall be close. Those who don the green, baggy caps are not the invincible force they once were and, without the might of Warne and McGrath, are struggling to take the score of wickets required to vanquish in a test and they have just lost at home (to South Africa) for the first time in, I believe, sixteen years. It’ll be a compelling month or two of action.

S and I were discussing the Lions the other night and agreed that this summer’s fifteen could conceivably include very few English players. This, we concluded, is a ‘good thing’ although I think South Africa will prove a tad too tough this time. Any Lions tour is exciting; like any major sporting occasion, a palpable sense of history and tradition lends contemporary events a thrilling backdrop. Of course, the greatest series in recent years came in 1989 when Australia were dispatched 2-1 and the Lions fielded Gloucester’s very own Mike Teague, then the finest rugby footballer on this or any planet. This clip is worth watching. Teague wears the six shirt for the Lions in the deciding third rubber and is always in the thick of the action, even after the match when he belligerently flattens a hapless ball-boy in a successful quest for the match ball. Memories. Misty water-coloured memories.

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