far be it from us to suggest that Aussie sportsmen need any help learning how to drink, but last week the 'British Medical Journal' reported that an Australian Rules footballer had to be rushed to hospital with a blocked oesophagus after swallow-ing a beer-bottle cap. You're supposed to take the top off before you start drinking, chaps... The Spectator is submitting this as a late entry for this year's Darwin Awards, to be announced on New Year's Day. They "honour people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in sublimely idiotic fashion". If we remember, we might make some mention of the 2007 winners next week.
The total number of red cards shown in England's top four football divisions on Boxing Day. Make up your own jokes about Christmas cards, fisticuffs, season of ill will and so on.
Spat of the week
More unseemly activity in, of all places, Bethlehem "birthplace of the legendary Jesus Christ", as the football writer Harry Harris once helpfully reminded us. Seven people were injured last Thursday during a punch-up between Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests following a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity after the Christmas celebrations. The church is built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born, and its space is shared between various branches of Christianity. "Peace on earth and goodwill toward men"; but only if you stay on your side of the altar, it seems.
Good week for
Kauto star and Ruby Walsh won King George VI Chase on Boxing Day by 11 lengths... Wild Oats became only the second yacht to win three consecutive Sydney-to-Hobart races... New England Patriots American football team won 15 games in a row to set NFL record... and Roy Hodgson was appointed as manager of Fulham on a long-term contract.
Bad week for
Ronaldinho, whistled from the Nou Camp by angry fans after Barcelona lost to Real Madrid, their first home defeat for two years... Joey Barton, Newcastle midfielder, remanded in custody after being charged with assault... Lee McConnell, 29-year-old Scot forced to quit 400m hurdles after injury problems... and India, thrashed by 337 runs in the First Test against Australia in Melbourne.
World leaders of the week
As the football association gear up to capture the 2018 World Cup, they can point to England's proud record in hosting equally prestigious events. The World Nettle Eating Championships at the Bottle Inn near Bridport, the World Black Pudding Lobbing Championships at the Royal Oak, Ramsbottom, the World Worm Charming Championships at Willaston County Primary School near Nantwich and the World Toe Wrestling Championships at the Bentley Brook Inn in Derbyshire draw international administrators from far and wide, eager to learn how it's done. 2018? Should be a shoo-in.