Knackered of the Yard

The Metropolitan Police's sports teams need to pull up their socks. Ken Hyder explains why
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THE BOYS in Blue have not done great. When it comes to sports prowess, the Metropolitan Police's representative teams are rubbing shoulders with the great strugglers of the day: Doncaster Rovers, the Welsh rugby team and the British Winter Olympics team.

It is a sorry picture: the Met's rugby, cricket and football teams are all pale shadows of their former selves - despite a range of luxurious sports facilities.

The rugby team, bottom of their division of the national league, looks doomed to relegation after just one win this season; the footballers used to be in Division 1 of the Ryman-Isthmian league but are now languishing in Division 2; and to cap it all, the Yard's cricketers were last year relegated from Division One of the Surrey championship league.

The poor performance has led to boardroom discussions at the Yard where the Blues' boss, Sir Paul "the Commissioner" Condon, heard of falling standards.

Sir Paul is, predictably, said to be as sick as a parrot and has sent out "advice" to his top players to raise their game forthwith. The policy board of top officers put out a police notice on the sorry state of affairs, reminding officers of the value of sport.

Secretary of the Metropolitan Police Athletics Association, Tony Brooking - brother of ex-England footballer Trevor Brooking - is delighted with the boardroom backing. "Over recent years the emphasis has been on putting officers on the streets, and that's made it increasingly difficult for sportsmen and women to get time off to play," he said.

The new police notice is likely to reaffirm an earlier statement made five years ago which said: "The Metropolitan Police Service recognises that there are positive benefits for the service to be gained from staff taking part in sport and recreation. These include the development of leadership qualities, the promotion of teamwork, a contribution to team building skills, the improvement of physical and mental fitness and a contribution to positive community contacts."

Other managers, of course, may have expressed it differently - and more colourfully.