I’ve been so distracted this week that it was two days before I realised that Spurs, the team I’ve supported for more than 50 years, had been thrashed 7-2 at home by Bayern Munich on Tuesday. At this rate we’ll be out of Europe well before Brexit. We’ve been showing signs of a disturbing disintegration recently and I knew that there was something seriously wrong when my Arsenal-supporting neighbour said cheerily, “What about that Spurs result then?”
I made some sort of knowing grimace and scuttled back inside to look after my visitors, thinking, “Oh dear [or similar], we must have got tonked 4-nil or something……..I’ll check the result tomorrow morning……”
My visitors were two old schoolfriends who aren’t sports tragics and since one of them had travelled all the way from Perth in Australia, you can understand why there was a bit of a results blackout as the three of us set about catching up on the past 50-odd years.
Tricia and I were very impressed because Alison, who now lives in Essex and is a member of a running group, was out the door at half past seven every morning to go for a run round the park. We weren’t tempted to join her. We settled for a leisurely cup of tea.
After leaving my guests at the station yesterday morning – they were heading up to Durham to visit another old schoolfriend – I went to tai chi, then called in at the golf club to watch Ireland beat Russia in Kobe and see if I could spot anyone I knew in the crowd. Several friends have travelled out to Japan for the Rugby World Cup, so it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility to spot them. At least we won and got a bonus point (for scoring four tries), to recover, at least partially, from Japan beating us impressively in our last match.
On reflection, my teams aren’t on the best of runs at the moment but at least that result ignited the tournament. (Is that an example of the latter half of my old school house motto: Modest in victory, cheerful in defeat?!)
Talking of defeat, GB and I’s PGA Cup team lost to the USA at Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas, last weekend, having raised hopes of a famous victory by leading 10-6 going into the singles. The Americans came roaring back and won the final session 8-2 to regain the Llandudno International Trophy and prevent a GB and I hat trick of wins.It didn’t escape anyone’s notice that it was 20 years since the Americans, captained by Ben Crenshaw, a proud Texan, engineered their famous comeback from a similar deficit in the Ryder Cup at Brookline. There was, I hope, no repeat of the more infamous, premature, invasion of the 17th green by the American team when Justin Leonard holed his monster putt against Jose Maria Olazabal. If there was anyone who might have followed Leonard in, it was Olly but he had to wait so long for the green to clear that even he hadn’t the remotest hope of holing his 20 footer.
You could write a book about Brookline – in fact several people have – and the last day alone provided enough material for a library of theses on sporting conflict, team unity, the art of captaincy, crowd control…..You name it, Brookline had it. The next Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, in a year’s time, will be – well, who knows what it will be? Competitive; feisty; contentious; noisy; close? Probably all those things. Everything but dull. The respective captains are Padraig Harrington for Europe and Steve Stricker for the United States and it would be hard to meet two more civilised souls or two fiercer competitors.
Eventually, there’ll be books of course and Harrington’s will undoubtedly run to several volumes, one for every press conference. They’re probably just finishing the transcript of the captains’ get-together on Tuesday. Like many of us Irish, Padraig is a bit of a talker and it’s fair to say that his mind moves in mysterious ways. Baffling sometimes but never dull. It should be an interesting and entertaining 12 months.
To finish on a positive note after the unpredictable nature of recent results, Ireland won the Women’s Senior Home Internationals by the narrowest of margins on the sainted, if rain-soaked turf of Rosses Point. The home team halved their match with England on the last day, so they had 2 1/2 points each, having both beaten Scotland and Wales. The Irish just shaded it on count back 12-11. The weather wasn’t at its most benign, so there were no foursomes on the second and third days of the matches, just five singles. Well done to all the teams and hearty congrats to captain Valerie Hassett and the women in green.
The old joke is that if you can’t see Ben Bulben when you’re playing Rosses Point (aka Co. Sligo GC), it’s raining and if you can see the mountain, it’s about to rain. Mary McKenna managed this great photo despite what the R and A website described as “adverse weather”.