CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from the Sunday papers.

1. Wake up and smell the burning rubber, Mr Cable and Mr Clegg (Observer)

However the Lib Dems present themselves in the future, it can't be as the party that will always keep its promises, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

2. The generals may be angry - but doctors and nurses aren't (Sunday Telegraph)

The coalition's speed and focus may yet be rewarded politically as well as financially, says Matthew d'Ancona.

3. History will see these cuts as one of the great acts of political folly (Observer)

George Osborne's plans will be in tatters when global economic war erupts, writes Will Hutton.

4. Relax -- these cuts are just a scratch (Sunday Times) (£)

But elsewhere, Dominic Lawson say that, at least in nominal terms, spending is not being cut at all.

5. Middle England is sacrificed for symbolism (Sunday Telegraph)

The Tories are alienating the hard-working, self-respecting people the economy needs most, argues Janet Daley.

6. Obama's right where he wants to be -- losing big (Sunday Times) (£)

Victory for the Republicans in the mid-term will allow Obama to call the right's bluff on debt, says Andrew Sullivan.

7. Greener living comes at a price (Independent on Sunday)

Energy bills need to rise but the coalition may struggle to protect the poor, warns an editorial in the Independent on Sunday.

8. Why are we letting business big shots alter our society? (Observer)

John Browne appears to have given no thought to higher education until he was asked to revolutionise it, says Catherine Bennett.

9. Crumbling America has a $2.2 trillion repair bill (Independent on Sunday)

Recession and a shift to the right have put big infrastructure projects in jeopardy, writes Rupert Cornwell.

10. We still won't face the consequences of immigration (Sunday Telegraph)

The coalition is still in denial over the social consequences of immigration, says Alasdair Palmer.

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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?”


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