Hold The Back Page: 23/04/2011



It's a big weekend for...



Sectarianism


Or its prevention, containment and punishment.

Yes, tomorrow is Old Firm day (again), and this week's build-up has been pretty run of the mill – bombs in the post, bullets through letterboxes, etc. Maybe we should let Justice Richard Blake take charge. He's the knowledgeable chap who, on sentencing a hooligan this week, demanded a 1 per cent tax on football clubs and players to help "hard-pressed police". So, football turned this lad into a wrong'un, your honour? Can't wait to hear him blame the Reformation, Irish immigration, Depression, Northern Ireland and just about every other root cause of sectarianism on Celtic and Rangers. Everyone knows they were all El Hadji Diouf's fault.

We applaud you wholeheartedly

Scott Parker

In a season of few outstanding candidates and few outstanding teams, it's fitting that the football writers' player of the year is someone who has shone for a side who escaped mediocrity – West Ham are much worse than that. Poor team-mates and poor management: without Scott Parker they lose; with him they have a chance, and the ball-juggling boy who came to prominence in a 1994 McDonald's TV advert now has to play another kind of "keepy-uppy" for the relegation-threatened Hammers. Guess who those who voted for him will be supporting in the run-in. Just one thing, as some of my Midlands brethren have been asking, if the West Ham scenario was taking place at, say, Wolves, would Parker have won then?

Plus the stories you may have missed

Backward Badminton

Hark back to the days when the Wimbledon women's finals were played in body-hugging corsetry and long flowing dresses? No, us neither. But tennis's loss is badminton's gain – almost. Sorry sexists, but the introduction of the "skirt rule", which does exactly what it says on the tin, has been delayed by a month "to allow players more time to adapt to the dress code". Seems the female shuttlers of China, Indonesia and India (that's just about anyone any good, then) aren't quite as keen as the Malaysia-based Badminton World Federation to "ensure attractive presentation of badminton".

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