The Third Leader: Consuming passions

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Footballers. Their wives. Their lives. Their partners. Their money. The shopping, retail and sneakish. Quite a lot of it about at the moment. Can't go into all the detail, because, given that money is involved, so are large numbers of m'learned friends.

Footballers. Their wives. Their lives. Their partners. Their money. The shopping, retail and sneakish. Quite a lot of it about at the moment. Can't go into all the detail, because, given that money is involved, so are large numbers of m'learned friends.

Just a brief aide memoire, then, (almost resisting the urge to go for an old one and point out that the phrase should not be confused with an Ivory Coast midfielder): Wayne and Colleen, Posh and Becks, and the unnamed defender whose ex- wife has just been awarded £415,000 a year plus assets worth more than £1.7m. The detail I like best in the last is that the ex-wife had pawned his jewellery.

Where will it all end? That's a question we're particularly fond of in the Third Leader department, along with "Are we alone ...?" Well, Chelsea will win the Premiership and Colleen will buy another handbag, obviously, and Sir Alex will fume and Roman will buy another country and Newcastle will continue to amaze. (Are we alone in noticing that the decline in the Magpies' standards coincides with the death of that staunch fan, Cardinal Basil Hume? Quite.)

Beyond that only tears, and its continuation as a simple, vivid metaphor for simple, vivid, all-consuming times. Who to blame? (another of our favourites). A long list, of course, but we point the finger at Tofik Bakhramov. If he hadn't persuaded the referee to allow Geoff Hurst's second goal, soccer here would have gone into permanent decline, allowing a far more honest, exciting, and down-to-earth role model of a game to take over: Rugby League. As it is, I see no hope, unless Benedict XVI can be persuaded to take an interest.

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