The recent revelation that the Foreign Office described Scotland's disastrous 1978 World Cup campaign in Argentina as "provincials out of their depth in international waters" is only the tip of our government's meddling in sport. Thanks to a well-placed mole who has burrowed to the very heart of Whitehall, The Last Word can exclusively bring you the shocking correspondence that was never meant to see the light of day.
1966 Memorandum from Her Majesty's Foreign Office to Office of the Prime Minister: Visit from Russian ambassador. He insists they have fulfilled their part of the bargain with the linesman at Wembley last week, now can they have the rest of Germany. We've no objections. Please advise. If there's a problem we could offer them the Orkneys instead? Or Wales?
1984 Memorandum from Duke of Edinburgh's Private Office to PM: Mags, Horrified to see that Thompson chap whistling Liz's tune after winning his gold medal in Los Angeles. Can he be horsewhipped? I could lend you one if need be. Best, Big Phil.
1986 Top secret, from PM's office to Defence Secretary: George, please advise on practicalities of invading Argentina. Promised Denis we'd do something after that horrid little Argie cheated us out of the World Cup. Denis was furious – not seen him like that since Foot turned up at the Cenotaph looking like Columbo. Took 5 large scotches to calm him down. Mark knows some chaps who might be able to help. Love, The Boss.
1987 Foreign Office Expenses Claim, Faisalabad: 3 mutton karahi, 2 chicken tikka, 1 lahori karahi, 7 peshwari nan, 1 sheep (whole), 2 boiled rice, 4 knickerbocker glory – £120. Reason for claim: Dinner to persuade Mr Gatting to apologise to Mr Rana and prevent umpire incident further damaging affairs between HM's government and Pakistan.
1996 Telegram from Helmut Kohl to PM: FOOTBALL'S COMING HOME STOP IT'S COMING HOME STOP HA HA STOP. Telegram from John Major to German chancellor: TWO WORLD WARS AND ONE WORLD CUP STOP STICK THAT UP YOUR XXXL JUMPER YOU BIG FAT SAUSAGE STOP
2004 Email from Foreign Office to PM's Office: Be advised, US president won't make opening ceremony. Has turned up in Athens, Georgia.
2005 Memo from PM's office to Chancellor: Hey, Gordie – how's the nation's banker? Re Olympic bid, not bothered about cost – must get the games here whatever it takes. CANNOT afford to lose this one. I owe that bastard Chirac one and to see the look on his face when we beat Paris ... priceless. Come on Mr B, let's do the French. Remember Agincourt. God be with you, TB.
2005 Internal Home Office email: Home Sec, idea came to me in pub last night – get Freddie Flintoff to front publicity campaign for all-day drinking legislation? Cheers.
2008 Email from Duke of Edinburgh's Private Office to Mayor of London: Johnson, Hear you're estate manager of Liz's capital now instead of that newt chap (isn't democracy odd). Want you to sort something for me. One of the family needs to win gold at the Olympics – invented by my people in case you need bloody reminding – and I want it to be young Harry. He's a chip of the old block isn't he? A first-rate shot, young Hal, only trouble is he prefers to have a pot at the living. Bring back live pigeon shooting. Harry tells me the Froggies had it in 1900 so there's no bloody reason why we bloody can't. Capice, Johnson? Yours in blood sports, Phil the Greek God.
2008 Memo from A Campbell to Lord Mandelson: Pete, What the f---? You are a stupid t-----. Big Gord would look a total f------ prat with a pair of Capello spectacles. It would do a load of b------- for his image. And who calls them spectacles anyway, you a---. F--- off, AC.
Stirling effort still resonates 25 years on
The Scottish Cup may be a poor relation to its southern cousin, but when it comes to delivering drubbings it's the daddy. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the biggest win of the last century in either competition – Stirling Albion 20, Selkirk 0.
Albion had been best known for the oddity of playing in all red at Annfield and once being managed by Bob Shankly, brother of Bill. They are perennial strugglers, but for one happy afternoon my local club were the centre of the nation's attentions.
It was one of those results that "Grandstand" felt the need to spell out, just in case double figures were beyond the wit of football fans. But the Albion's brush with fame was brief – in the next round they went out to the Blue Brazil, beaten 2-1 at Cowdenbeath.
Aussies in quite a spin
Can Australia really be as bad as they look? A one-man batting team and a bowling attack that wouldn't trouble Boycott's ubiquitous granny. Here's hoping.
Brian Viner is away