The Third Leader: A time-honoured tradition

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The Independent Online

So we're not all going back to Wem-ber-ley quite as planned. Ah, well. A pity, as I was particularly looking forward to the friendly against Jamaica. But it wasn't exactly unexpected, was it? And they're clearly concentrating on getting it ready for the Rugby League Cup Final, which shows an admirable sense of priorities.

In any event, Wembley is all about tradition, and, especially, the noble tradition of upset. It opened with a crowd overspill and has continued to the current difficulties through injury hoodoos and unfancied team triumphs, such as Widnes against St Helens in 1930, and England in 1966, helped by the creative linesmanship of the great Tofik Bakhramov.

And what could be more traditional than a big project not finished on time? This goes back at least to Ethelred's weapons of mass destruction programme and embraces just about every cathedral, road, bridge and tunnel since, not to mention the Great Orme Tramway (July rather than May, 1902).

There are compensations, though. Cardiff's a top place, and, next year (call me a pessimist), the FA could do a lot worse than continue the "on the road" theme and book either the Houston Astrodome or the Odsal Stadium, Bradford. Besides, I can think of only two projects finished ahead of time, the Hoover Dam and The World (God, you will recall, was able to rest on the seventh day), and the latter is not necessarily an inspiring precedent. Consider this, too: the Millennium Dome was ready.

All in all, then, it might be wiser to take the plunge now, seize the initiative, capture the imagination and announce, with all due fanfare, the London Olympics, 2013.

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