Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers

1. Argentina's oil grab is timely retort to rampaging capitalism (Observer)

Cristina Fernández's actions, however clumsy, are part of a worldwide reaction to exploitation by business and the rich, writes Will Hutton

2. The cool Mrs Theresa May is acting like a hothead (Sunday Telegraph)

Peter Oborne writes that Theresa May has not displayed "the cool, calm deliberation one would expect from a Home Secretary"

3. The midterm elections are now crucial thanks to omnishambles (Observer)

The outcome of these contests will make a huge difference to the morale and momentum of the rival parties, writes Andrew Rawnsley

4. Ask politicians about FGM, and lo, they are against it (Independent on Sunday)

Joan Smith writes on the disconnect between words and actions on FGM.

5. Abolishing the Lords would be political vandalism (Observer)

Nadhim Zahawi argues that an elected Lords would fatally injure the Commons

6. We're British, which means Abu Qatada should stay (Independent on Sunday)

John Rentoul writes that respect for "innocent until proven guilty" should extent to Qatada, or it doesn't really exist at all.

7. Forget Ukip, David Cameron and explain what the Government is up to (Sunday Telegraph)

Matthew D'Ancona has some advice for the PM in the lead up to the local elections.

8. Breivik is right — he is not getting true justice (Sunday Times)

Dominic Lawson argues that far from being a sign of the superiority of the Norwegian legal system, the lenience extended to Breivik is deeply flawed.

9. On extracting gas from rock, or putting it in there, the greens are equally confused (Sunday Telegraph)

Christopher Booker doesn't much like low-carbon technologies.

10. Fracking is a highly explosive issue (Independent on Sunday)

DJ Taylor argues that fracking just postpones the inevitable: fossil fuels will run out someday.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Getty
Show Hide image

If there’s no booze or naked women, what’s the point of being a footballer?

Peter Crouch came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

At a professional league ground near you, the following conversation will be taking place. After an excellent morning training session, in which the players all worked hard, and didn’t wind up the assistant coach they all hate, or cut the crotch out of the new trousers belonging to the reserve goalie, the captain or some senior player will go into the manager’s office.

“Hi, gaffer. Just thought I’d let you know that we’ve booked the Salvation Hall. They’ll leave the table-tennis tables in place, so we’ll probably have a few games, as it’s the players’ Christmas party, OK?”

“FECKING CHRISTMAS PARTY!? I TOLD YOU NO CHRISTMAS PARTIES THIS YEAR. NOT AFTER LAST YEAR. GERROUT . . .”

So the captain has to cancel the booking – which was actually at the Salvation Go Go Gentlemen’s Club on the high street, plus the Saucy Sporty Strippers, who specialise in naked table tennis.

One of the attractions for youths, when they dream of being a footballer or a pop star, is not just imagining themselves number one in the Prem or number one in the hit parade, but all the girls who’ll be clambering for them. Young, thrusting politicians have similar fantasies. Alas, it doesn’t always work out.

Today, we have all these foreign managers and foreign players coming here, not pinching our women (they’re too busy for that), but bringing foreign customs about diet and drink and no sex at half-time. Rotters, ruining the simple pleasures of our brave British lads which they’ve enjoyed for over a century.

The tabloids recently went all pious when poor old Wayne Rooney was seen standing around drinking till the early hours at the England team hotel after their win over Scotland. He’d apparently been invited to a wedding that happened to be going on there. What I can’t understand is: why join a wedding party for total strangers? Nothing more boring than someone else’s wedding. Why didn’t he stay in the bar and get smashed?

Even odder was the behaviour of two other England stars, Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson. They made a 220-mile round trip from their hotel in Hertfordshire to visit a strip club, For Your Eyes Only, in Bournemouth. Bournemouth! Don’t they have naked women in Herts? I thought one of the points of having all these millions – and a vast office staff employed by your agent – is that anything you want gets fixed for you. Why couldn’t dancing girls have been shuttled into another hotel down the road? Or even to the lads’ own hotel, dressed as French maids?

In the years when I travelled with the Spurs team, it was quite common in provincial towns, after a Saturday game, for players to pick up girls at a local club and share them out.

Like top pop stars, top clubs have fixers who can sort out most problems, and pleasures, as well as smart solicitors and willing police superintendents to clear up the mess afterwards.

The England players had a night off, so they weren’t breaking any rules, even though they were going to play Spain 48 hours later. It sounds like off-the-cuff, spontaneous, home-made fun. In Wayne’s case, he probably thought he was doing good, being approachable, as England captain.

Quite why the other two went to Bournemouth was eventually revealed by one of the tabloids. It is Lallana’s home town. He obviously said to Jordan Henderson, “Hey Hendo, I know a cool club. They always look after me. Quick, jump into my Bentley . . .”

They spent only two hours at the club. Henderson drank water. Lallana had a beer. Don’t call that much of a night out.

In the days of Jimmy Greaves, Tony Adams, Roy Keane, or Gazza in his pomp, they’d have been paralytic. It was common for players to arrive for training still drunk, not having been to bed.

Peter Crouch, the former England player, 6ft 7in, now on the fringes at Stoke, came out with one of the wittiest football lines. When asked what he thought he would have been but for football, he replied: “A virgin.”

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 01 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Age of outrage