The spectator

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The Independent Online

Dark days for Britain's 50,000 or so pigeon fanciers, as Belford Homing Society in Northumberland have been denied rate relief on the shed where they store their race baskets on the grounds that unlike arm-wrestling, baton twirling and skipping pigeon racing is not recognised by the European Sports Charter as a sport. Seems unfair; plenty of sports that are recognised involve highly trained athletes with small brains. Some pigeon breeds even seem to have been named with Premier League footballers past and present in mind: English Longface Clean-legged Tumbler, French Pouter, Exhibition Flying Tippler and Birmingham Roller. You know who you are, and so do we.


Nickname of Cardiff Blues' Chris Czekaj, representing the value of his surname in Scrabble tiles. The abstemious Jason Robinson's nickname? Olympic Torch, "because he never goes out". Truly aside-splitting bunch, those rugby union players.

Giant brains of the week

If some sportsmen confound the theory of evolution the evidence of 'Dumb Britain' (Private Eye, 4.99) indicates they are not alone. A sampling of quiz-show answers Michael Barrymore: "What did Roger Bannister do in under four minutes in 1954?" Contestant: "Orbit the earth?"; Anne Robinson: "Which Ossie played for 'Tottingham' in the FA Cup final?" Contestant: "Ossie Osbourne." Eamonn Holmes: "Which snooker player's nickname was The Whirlwind?" Contestant: "Hurricane Higgins."

Good week for

Christine Ohuruogu, British 400m world champion, won appeal against lifetime Olympic ban for missing three drug tests... Arsenal Ladies football team, given freedom of Borough of Islington after winning League title and Cup, Uefa Cup and FA Cup in 2006-07... Golden Gate Yacht Club, backers of BMW Oracle, won court case to establish themselves as Challenger of Record against Alinghi in 2009 America's Cup.

Bad week for

Sean Taylor, American footballer with Washington Redskins, died after being shot by intruder... Pieter Burgstaller, former Salzburg goalkeeper, shot dead on Durban golf course... GB men's hockey team, hammered 4-0 two days in a row in Champions Trophy in Malaysia... and Donald Trump, US tycoon, his plans for 1bn golf course complex in Aberdeenshire in ruins after being refused planning permission.

Twinkletoes of the week

So John Barnes exits 'Strictly Come Dancing', leaving Kenny Logan as sport's sole survivor. The Scot seems unlikely to twirl to final glory, but cricket's two winners, Mark Ramprakash (2006) and Darren Gough (2005) are returning in a Christmas Special. If the trend in the US, where double Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves has just won 'Dancing With The Stars', is anything to go by, racing drivers may be the coming thing. Perhaps Lewis Hamilton can get in some practice with his new close friend, model Naomi Campbell. But at four inches taller and 15 years older, she'll probably want to lead.