The motivational nexus between sport and country and western music is well known. Didn't England beat India last spring with a pre-match singalong to Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"? And doesn't the Manchester United chorale bawl out an uplifting version of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads"? Curiously, the roads lead back to Nashville as much as Old Trafford.
To discover, as one did this week, that the beat-box staple in the England rugby XV's dressing room is Kenny Rogers's "The Gambler", that time-honoured homily about knowing when to leave the table and when to step back up, is entirely predictable.
Mr Rogers deals in grim eternals, in death, trauma and rapine, chance, vengeance and unexpected gleams of mercy breaking through the surrounding shadow. "If I were a painting/My price would be pain/And the artist would have to be you," he once intoned, and an audience of back-row forwards shook their heads.
Successful businesses have the pin-striped authors of management primers to cheerlead their operations. One of the world's top rugby teams now has a badger-haired 69-year-old with a fondness for duets with buxom chanteuses. There is no incongruity in this. Indeed, one wishes that Mr Rogers would take his power to enthuse and revivify further into the sporting world.
Take my own bunch of sporting heroes, Norwich City FC – managerless, moneyless, without a goal in nine hours of competitive play and currently languishing in the foothills of the Championship. Why, Kenny's back catalogue might have been made for a high-decibel accompaniment to the half-time tea and biscuits.
"Every time two fools collide" just about sums up the recent defensive performance. Which cards could be harder ("Harder Cards") than last month's record three sendings-off in two games? As for one of Mr R's most plaintive numbers, "I'm Missing You", I'm missing all kinds of people – Robert Green, Dean Ashton and Robert Earnshaw, for example, all flogged off to Premiership predators. Though they still have Lee Croft.
Kenny has the answer. "Lady"' is clearly an impassioned plea to our majority shareholder, Delia Smith, to underwrite another bank loan.
"When You Put Your Heart In It" speaks for itself. And then there's the elegiac glance over the shoulder of "I Can't Unlove You" with its vista of "Pictures made to last forever/To be boxed up and tossed away/Knick-knacks and souvenirs/In an afternoon they're out of here". Just like my collection of soccer programmes in fact, hoarded from a more glamorous era.
Kenny, a patch of well-tended grass in the Norfolk heartland needs you now.Reuse content