The London Olympics are over, the flame has been extinguished, and the torch passed to Rio de Janeiro, who have a very hard act to follow.
On any view, the Olympics have been a triumph from beginning to end, from the moment Her Majesty the Queen parachuted into the stadium with James Bond, to the splendidly cacophonous closing ceremony, with golden oldies appearing Lazarus like for one final fling.
Team GB exceeded our wildest expectations, with medals galore and above all, the Olympic spirit alive and well, with the obvious exception of the South Korean and Chinese badminton players, who were rightly disqualified and sent home for ‘re-education’.
In amongst all this euphoria, and buried in the back pages of the papers, was a football match, and I was reminded with a jolt that ten months of unremitting football are upon us. The football match in question was called the Community Shield, quite why I don’t know. It used to be called the Charity Shield, until some bright spark realised there was no such thing as charity between professional footballers, and renamed it. It had all the usual ingredients: a career threatening tackle followed by a red card, several yellow cards, and a degree of tedium even the most avid fans would struggle to overcome.
On the same day, exciting news reached me that a horse owned by Wayne Rooney, the gifted but moronic footballer, had finally won a race, and had netted (forgive the pun) the equivalent of five minutes play for Wayne on the pitch. Wayne bought the nag from a fellow footballer, and was initially attracted by its name Snotalot. Every time the horse ran, it would snot and gob just like its owner. Its winning chances were hampered by the fact that whenever another horse came near, it would fall over and cry foul whilst winking cheekily at the camera. But the icing on the cake for Wayne was on those rare occasions when the horse won. It would gallop into the winner’s enclosure, do several laps of honour and then fall over, waiting for all the other horses to jump on top and give it big wet kisses.
It’s more than a man, or horse, can bear.