Tour strikes wrong note
DISHARMONY in New Haven, Connecticut, where controversial changes to the rules of the ATP Tennis Tour have been introduced. In a cack-handed attempt to pep up the game, music now accompanies player introductions, warm-ups and changeovers. The move hasn't found favour with the players. After losing on Tuesday, Andre Agassi said the music created a circus-like atmosphere and was an embarrassment. Boris Becker also dislikes it. 'Honestly, I don't think it's the greatest idea the tournament ever had,' he said. 'Nobody likes it.' Ivan Lendl, mindful of the new regulations, was more circumspect. 'I'm not going to criticise because one of the new rules is that you can't,' he said. Where
will it all end? Singing linesmen? Strobe lights on Centre Court? The Duchess of Kent 'wired for sound'? It doesn't bear thinking about.
All about Yves
ALMANACK has a profound and deep-seated distaste for all things relating to BSkyB, but we feel duty-bound to pass on a move towards civilisation in their football coverage. Richard Keys, the presenter, has binned his jackets.
The items concerned, by Yves Saint Laurent, were orange, purple, cerise, bright green, canary yellow, speckled orange, light blue and red, and enough to put you off before a ball had been kicked. Henceforth, Keys will appear in muted shades. Two mysteries remain about the lurid jackets. Why it took so long to get rid of them, and how Keys obtained them to begin with. 'We have never heard of a Mr Keys,' said a refined lady at YSL HQ, 'and we have every customer since 1988 on the computer.' Not just nasty jackets.
Second-hand nasty jackets?
Kerly back to cap career
TO BOURNEMOUTH, for a training session at the local hockey club. No, wait - read on. For Bournemouth Sports Club, blessed already with a splendid 60- acre spread (floodlights everywhere, neat little grandstands, spanking new clubhouse) have popped the cherry on top of their leisure-related sundae by recruiting the one man who can yoke together the otherwise unrelated terms 'hockey' and 'excitement'.
Sean Kerly MBE: 34 years old, Olympic gold medallist, 192 caps for England, sales manager for Poole Pottery, just down the road from Bournemouth Sports Club. Handy for training. On Thursday night he was conducting his third session with the club.
Not difficult to pick the chap out, anyway. He's the one with the television camera shoved in his face as he runs up and down the Astroturf. In a snappy black track- suit, he leads the 24 Bournemouth players (most of the men's first team, plus keener members of the women's and junior teams) on a jog. Then some stretches, then the first of a number of cunning stick- and-ball exercises. All the time Kerly races around, admonishing, encouraging, advising: 'Control the ball and move it on. Let's not get wet about this. That's good.'
'He's so committed,' said Chris Guy, Bournemouth's hockey supremo, watching on the sidelines. Does this commitment come cheap? Are you paying the charismatic veteran for his time? 'We're just so delighted to have him here,' said Chris, who seems to suffer from periodic deafness, perhaps connected with his day job as a percussionist.
'Keep your sticks down,' Kerly urged. 'Let's pick up the pace . . . you're obviously getting tired. Five minutes' break.' Almanack approached some perspiring young first-teamers. What's the great man like as a coach? 'Great,' Paul Luker said. 'He's good for morale, and good for the club's profile.' Andy Booth agreed: 'It'll be nice to have somebody score goals,' he said. 'I've seen him on the telly and I know he can do that.'
The session recommenced. Kerly distributed plastic cones like giant yarmulkes all over the pitch and had his players steer the ball around them before sending off slapped passes and shots. Then there was a practice match: two touches only, not too much contact, plenty of fun. Kerly scored.
The two-hour training routine was over, and the players dispersed for a shower and a beer. Kerly, pouring sweat, had enjoyed himself. 'That was fun.' Three sessions in, what did he think of the Bournemouth set-up? ''It has potential,' he said, 'previously untapped. I've got to get them used to higher intensity training.'
We can see why the club, a couple of divisions below the top level, should want him; what does he get out of it? 'It's a challenge. I've never had a team under my control before. It's down to me to get them organised. I love it.' But Kerly retired from hockey 18 months ago, citing boredom with the drudgery of training as a factor in his decision. Does he really want to be back?
'Listen,' he said, with a blue- eyed stare. 'The World Cup is coming up in November. Everybody says England are having trouble scoring goals. Let's just say I'd appreciate a phone call.'
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