Caborn can take Swedish comfort

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The Independent Online

Much is being made of the new Minister for Sport's catastrophic performance in a quiz cooked up in the intellectual hothouse of a Radio 5 Live talk show. Poor Richard Caborn (below) ran the contemptuous gauntlet of such sporting luminaries as Clare Balding, the daughter of a racehorse trainer, and Charlie Whelan, the, er, former spin doctor.

Certainly it was unfortunate that Caborn made the sports knowledge of the former Culture Secretary Chris Smith, which the fired sports minister, Kate Hoey, doubted bitterly would cover the back of a postage stamp, suddenly seem encyclopaedic. It would have been better, though, if Balding and Whelan, rather than gabble about their diary engagements at various golf courses and Royal Ascot, had taken the trouble to discuss the most relevant point. It is that a sports minister armed with the database of a John Motson would still depend for his effectiveness on a Government which has only a vague clue about the value of sport to the morale of the nation.

It is also just as well that Radio 5 do not ambush too many of their celebrity sport broadcasters in the way they did the clueless Caborn. David Mellor, for example, once told the nation that Jimmy Armfield played for Burnley.

For Caborn there is a little hope, however. Sven Goran Eriksson was caught in the smart-ass trap when, at his first English press conference, he was asked to name the Sunderland left-back. He failed on his way to the most successful start ever made by an England manager. Caborn should draw a little comfort from that, and especially when he considers quite what he has to beat.

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