I’m always on the lookout for fun, inexpensive presents for the single-figure members of the family. No, not the golfers – don’t think any of us are that low anyway – but the under-10s, of whom there are several. Whisper it quietly but the charity shops are a regular haunt and a rich source of gifts and the aisles of Lidl and Aldi are always worth a sweep.
The wee football above came from Lidl – there’s no disguising it, it’s written on the ball – and in the end I decided to keep it for myself. After all, how could I explain to a football mad 7-year old that blasting a too-big ball as hard as he could with his dominant foot wasn’t going to get him to the premier league. Fingers crossed he’s learning that elsewhere.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to dedicate myself (sort of) to becoming better at keepy-uppy. It shouldn’t be too difficult since even one or two will be an improvement; the bar is set very low. For those of you who haven’t a clue what keepy-uppy is, it’s “the feat of keeping a football from touching the ground by repeatedly flicking it upwards using the foot, knee or head”. You’ll see new signings at big clubs doing showy versions for the cameras. It’s like golfers bouncing the ball endlessly on a club face. It takes time and patience to perfect.
I can hear you asking, “Why bother?” but why not? There must be a knack to it that’ll click eventually if you persevere…
The blue and yellow colours won’t be on show at the final of the Women’s World Cup in Sydney this Sunday because Spain beat Sweden in the semis and will now play England for the biggest prize of all. The Lionesses, the European champions, beat Australia 3-1 in an impressive display and the blog will be cheering them on in the final.
And on Saturday this half of the blog will be making her first trek of the season down to N17 to watch Spurs v Manchester United, secure in the knowledge that it won’t be a nil-all draw – it’s one of the rules of the fixture that there should be goals, usually lots of them. We’ll miss the sainted Harry and his goals and wish him all the best at Bayern Munich, where I hope he’ll be successful and happy. COYS.To cheer myself up, I rooted out my book commemorating the Spurs Double Team, ancient history now (1961) as fans of the likes of Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea will crow. The pre-season photo call featured the first eleven, a far cry from the big squads of the present day.
Danny Blanchflower, the captain, who’s standing in the middle, looking over his shoulder, played for Aston Villa before joining Spurs and was a good friend of Dai’s father, who wrote for the Evening Mail. Danny, a Northern Irishman, was never short of a word or three and became a football writer himself when he retired.
One of his most famous sayings was: “The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”
Well, winning in style, that’ll do nicely.
There hasn’t been much golf in this bit of the blog, so this is as good a place as any to congratulate Charlotte Heath on winning the Smyth Salver as the low amateur at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath. A student at Florida State University, the Yorkshirewoman finished ahead of Julia Lopez Ramirez, the European Amateur champion, the only other amateur to complete all four rounds.
“I heard my name being shouted, which is not something I’m used to,” Heath said. “It’s a really nice feeling, having the home crowd. I felt a lot of support out there.”
She hopes to turn professional in due course and follow in the distinguished footsteps of some of the previous winners, who include Rose Zhang, Michelle Wie West, Anna Nordqvist, Georgia Hall and Leona Maguire, to name just a few.
Congrats also to Ingrid Lindblad, of Sweden, on winning the Mark H McCormack Medal, awarded to the leading woman in the 2023 World Amateur Golf Rankings. The graduate of Louisiana State University will be exempt into next year’s US Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club and the AIG Women’s Open at the Old Course, St Andrews – providing she remains an amateur, one assumes.
With a bit of luck, when she does turn professional, Ingrid will become another in the long line of Swedish stalwarts of Europe’s Solheim Cup team.
Alongside Heath and Lopez Ramirez – who’ll be on opposing sides this Sunday…