Robin Scott-Elliot: A big, bustling, bouncy backside is as useful in skeleton as it is in bowling

View From The Sofa: Skeleton World Cup/Soccer Saturday, 5 Live/Eurosport/Sky/BBC

Ray Illingworth, in no particular order a cricketer, curmudgeon and Yorkshireman, knew the importance of a good bottom in sport. For him there was only one rear of the year and it belonged stoutly to fellow cricketer, curmudgeon and Yorkshireman, Fred Trueman, who had what Illingworth fondly called a "fast bowler's bottom", something of substance that could give its owner ballast tearing in with a Scarborough sea breeze at his back.

While he was chairman of selectors during some of England's darkest days, Illingworth searched for an amply posteriored quickie who could restore the nation's cricketing pride. He once tipped Michael Kapsrowicz, then a young Australian playing for Essex, for an international future on account of a heftily proportioned behind.

Skeleton is a whole different bottom game. Trueman's behind, one suspects, would not be the streamlined piece of apparatus required to succeed at a sport that would be treated with extreme suspicion by any right-thinking Yorkshire curmudgeon, like a Lancastrian offering to stand them a sea breeze in a Scarborough nightclub.

To succeed at skeleton you shouldn't have too much meat on the bones. The key suggested Adam Pengilly, a coach and competitor, is "powerful legs and bum". So he said as he watched one competitor hurl herself at a speed quicker than anything Trueman ever delivered down an ice track somewhere in France. It is not easy to keep an inquisitive eye on a bottom disappearing at 122kmh.

The winner of Saturday's skeleton was Mellisa Hollingsworth, who apparently rides and trains rodeo ponies back home in Canada during the close season, something for which a firm seat is required (programme idea for the BBC – Robbie does rodeo. Actually, how about Savage does skeleton?).

Chris Kamara was immersed in wriggly-bottom time later on Saturday. Kamara was one of the pioneers of Soccer Saturday's style of over-the-top, ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek reporting, and remains an enthusiastic fixture. Every moment of Bolton against Aston Villa was "unbelievable" or "magnificent". And throughout it all he wriggled and writhed as if either he had forgotten to go before kick-off or had an itch that there was no satisfying. Alan McInally is another of Sky's chaps (this is a man's world) who turns his match into physical theatre, heading and gesticulating throughout.

Soccer Saturday does what it does with gusto, and Jeff Stelling remains just the right side of smugness, but the best way to pass a Saturday afternoon is with 5 Live. From kick-off to final whistle, it is well narrated by Mark Pougatch and John Murray, and for anyone who has spent formative football-following years listening to the wireless it has a nostalgic link that is difficult to sever. The moment when World Service listeners are welcomed, which still conjures images of distance places, Graham Greene and pink gins, is a faithful reminder of seasons past when bottoms were sturdier and so probably less squeaky.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee CAD Technician

£12800 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee CAD Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000+

£15600 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This renewable energy installat...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss