Sports orgy strains couch potatoes' eyes

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MANY MEMBERS of the nation's workforce, mainly male, will prise themselves off their sofas this morning and stumble square-eyed into offices after an unprecedented weekend of televised sport.

A confluence of top sporting events including the Grand National kept much of the population indoors, rousing itself only to collect another six-pack or hunt for the remote control.

Parks, garden centres and supermarkets were virtually deserted on Saturday and yesterday. Bookmakers, by contrast, were in seventh heaven; William Hill estimated yesterday that a record pounds 100m would have been wagered by the end of play last night.

For sports fans, the embarrassment of riches was less literal, and provoked many an agonising quandary.

The Grand National at Aintree - won for the first time since 1975 by an Irish horse, Bobbyjo, ridden by Paul Carberry - clashed with Scotland's 36-22 victory over France in the Five Nations Rugby in Paris on Saturday afternoon. There was also the usual round of league football matches.

On Saturday evening, hardcore viewers were forced to choose between the US golf Masters in Augusta and the World Boxing Organisation bout in which Naseem Hamed successfully defended his featherweight title against Paul Ingle in Manchester.

Yesterday the schedule was even more hectic, starting with two FA Cup semi-finals which saw Manchester United and Arsenal draw 0-0 and Newcastle United beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0. Both games clashed with England's one- day cricket match against India. In Scotland, Rangers won their Cup semi- final to ensure an Old Firm clash against Celtic.

Yesterday, nearly back-to-back, came Wales's last-minute 32-31 win against England in the Five Nations, which gave the championship to Scotland, followed by the Brazilian Grand Prix and the US Masters final round, with Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman strongly fancied.

If predictions prove correct once the final sums are done, it will have been the biggest betting weekend on record. Cash wagers just on the Tote at Aintree added up to more than pounds 1m, and total punts on the race are estimated at pounds 70m.

Sport, 16-page section

Comments