It has been another two magic nights in the mighty masterdrome of European football (writes our ever excitable yet seen-it-all football correspondent, Rene McGrit), as the travelling titans of modern sport roamed the stadiums of Europe looking for modern and ancient foes to seek out and chastise, where old enmities were renewed and new rivalries inaugurated...
(Just take it easy, Rene, says our sports editor. Calm down! Pretend just for a moment that football is not 'Jurassic Park', but only a game.)
So we are now halfway through the group stage of the European Championship (writes Rene McGrit). So what? So, a few goals were scored and a few points dropped. Well, that's life. It's happened before and it will happen again. As one season merges into another and you begin to forget who plays for which team...
(Not too laid back, Rene, advises our sports editor. I think you can take it up a gear or two. Try a touch of wildness without ever quite hitting hysteria...)
And so the mighty machine of European football coughed once or twice, spluttered and then roared urgently back into action this midweek (writes the new-style, four-cylinder, turbo-action Rene McGrit) as mighty M1 Wanderers, pride of the Midlands, took to the turf against the champions of Poland, Perfekt Plumbers (24 hour call-out). I spoke to the manager of M1 Wanderers, Sir Ron Aston, before he and his men flew out to encounter the little-known Poles.
"Aye, Rene," he told me, "I'd never heard of these Plumbers before. So they were an unknown quantity. So we sent our scout out and he came back with a video from Poland for us to study. Unfortunately, the video he brought back turned out to be an X-rated sex romp that he had picked up from the hotel in Warsaw by mistake. But we had fun watching that, and it certainly relaxed the boys."
It certainly did, as they ran out 3-0 losers on the night. Elsewhere, top Scottish team Queen o'Hogmanay played host to little-known Finnish champions, Sporting Anorak. I talked to manager Sandy Aygo after the match.
"When you say we played host, Rene," he told me, "that was not in the sense of offering them cups of tea and handing round bits of cheese on a stick. It was in the sense that a pub landlord plays host - that is, we read the riot act, gave them a bloody nose and sent them packing."
But the Finns still won 3-1, did they not?
"There's no way the score reflects our superiority. We had all the play and they scored the goals. In the return leg we'll get it right. We'll let them have all the play so that we can score all the goals."
Meanwhile the unfancied London team FC Fitzrovia took on the French team, Post- Modernist Paris Saint Germain, perhaps the most thoughtful team playing today.
"They certainly asked a lot of questions of us, Rene," admits Batley manager Bert Romsey. "To begin with, they out-thought us and out-argued us, and their footnote-work was exemplary. But we came back with a few original ideas of our own, like scoring a couple of goals when they weren't looking.
"As I said to their manager afterwards: 'Well, monsieur, as your very own Jean-Paul Sartre might have said, Hell is Eleven Other People...' I had him there!"
Among other British results, St Pancras had a creditable 0-0 draw against Gare St Lazare, and Likely Lad II ran a good race to come in third in the 2.30 at Istanbul Race Meeting.
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