Sport on TV: Terry feels cruelty of betrayal as we pull the plug on Palmer
Sunday 30 May 2010
There's a World Cup around the corner so it must be time for a slurry of cringeworthy and ill-informed programmes about football. England's Worst Ever Football Team (BBC3, Wednesday) kicked off the silly season with a customary cast of has-beens and who-are-yas sharing their utterly unwanted views. Danielle Ward, Jason Lewis, Nico Tatrowicz; these people are comedians, apparently. Here's some more: Joe Wilkinson, Alex Riley, David James... Oh sorry, the last one isn't a comedian. But he is a national joke.
To show how much trouble they were having finding funny men, there was even a German comedian called Henning Wehn. He seemed curiously at home here; after all, a German joke is not a laughing matter.
Amazingly, James couldn't get into England's worst-ever team. The No 1 shirt went to Peter Bonetti. As is the way with these list programmes, he was the only player chosen from before the mid-Eighties, because that's as far back as the puerile programme-makers can remember.
Then came one of the most ludicrous selections ever to disgrace such a straw poll: John Terry. He was included for his off-field shenanigans, while Ashley Cole got away with it because he's such a good player. And Terry can't play? As Neil Ruddock opined: "When I played, the best shagger and the best drinker in the dressing room was the captain." And the best at demolishing phone boxes or stealing jewellery.
One selection you simply could not argue with, even down the years, was Carlton Palmer. The sight of Palmer running headlessly around the pitch – well, he did have a very small head – for England an incredible 18 times is indelibly seared in the memory.
As for that advert when he emerged out of a bloke's bath plugging Paddy Power, you can see why some people say they'll never wash again after meeting one of their heroes.
* John Fashanu was chosen as one of the strikers, and he appeared again in the sombre Inside Sport: The Last Taboo (BBC1, Monday), which looked at homosexuality in sport and particularly football. His brother Justin was the only openly gay footballer, who killed himself in 1998. And there was big John, worrying that 'Sun' readers might think it was him, and saying: "I wouldn't get changed in the same vicinity, so what would others do?" With an attitude like that, coming from your own brother, is it really any wonder no one else has come out?
There is surely too high a price to pay in the modern game, where the rewards are so plentiful and the alternative a trial by tabloid as well as by team-mates and fans. And given the fuss made about the private lives of Terry and Cole, it might be wiser to know as little as possible about our players' sexual inclinations.
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