As this is my last column until the summer, I shall depart with a series of predictions for the sporting year ahead. Place your bets now, if you are not to be disappointed.
Going for gold. The British athletics team will fail to win a single gold medal on the track or in the field at the Olympic Games in Athens in August. But our swimmers, under the leadership of the Australian hardman Bill Sweetenham, will excel in the first week of the games, achieving their best-ever performance. The games themselves, however, will be blighted by chaotic organisation, shoddy infrastructure, terrorism and the inevitable doping scandals.
Deja vu. The administrators of world cricket continue to ruin the game through insane scheduling, as England return in May from a drawn series in the Caribbean to face a long home series against, er, the West Indies. Later in the year, England will refuse to play a Test series in Zimbabwe. This opens the way for John Emburey and Graham Gooch to lead a rebel tour there, playing unofficial Tests and one-day internationals against a Robert Mugabe President's XI. They will be paid, as in the past, in rand.
Golden balls. To scenes of febrile national celebration - and a cliched observation or two from the likes of me about football being central to our national conversation, a form of vicarious nationalism and proxy war - a Beckham-inspired England reach the final of Euro 2004 in Lisbon. Their opponents are the defending champions, France, a country that has its own weapon of mass destruction in the form of Monsieur Thierry Henry. Blair and Chirac renew their rivalry as England . . . well, you'll just have to wait for the result of that one, I'm afraid.
A real blow-up doll. Jordan - the soft porn model memorably referred to as "it" by John Lydon during their celebrity sleepover in an Australian rainforest - publishes her memoirs in May. Her revelations about her various romps with assorted professional footballers are received with delight in the broadsheets. Here is one footballer's wife who, it seems, knows no limits, as even the father of her child, Dwight Yorke, is implicated in her sordid tale. Yorke himself published his own autobiography a couple of years ago, ghost-written by our very own Hunter Davies.
Tears of a clown. Hunter comes out with another ghost-written offering, and one of the most desirable literary properties of the sporting summer - the autobiography of Paul Gascoigne, in which the troubled Geordie discusses . . . all right, I better leave that one to the man who knows.
Win banker. On fast ground, Best Mate triumphs at Cheltenham in March, as he wins his third consecutive Gold Cup, confirming his right to be called the greatest chaser of the modern era.
Arsene Wenger's magic. Arsenal win the Premiership in May without having lost a single game in the league, completing another record-breaking season for the French sage.
Go on, Tim. "Tennis in Britain is not a game," wrote the journalist Tim Adams, "it is a fortnight." And that fortnight is called Wimbledon, during which a reinvigorated, hard-serving Tim Henman will reach his first final in June. There, on centre court, in unbroken sunshine, he loses in three tumultuous sets to the defending champion, Roger Federer. It all proves too much for the housewives of the Home Counties, especially as their beloved Henman Hill also collapses under the weight of all that anguish and disappointment.
Candid camera. Sven-Goran Eriksson is photographed sneaking out of the back door of 11 Downing Street following a meeting with Tony and Cherie Blair. Rumour suggests that, in the light of England's excellent performance at Euro 2004, the Prime Minister has asked the secretive Swede to reconsider his decision to join the Russian revolution at Chelsea. Either that, or he is in talks about becoming Foreign Secretary, as Jack Straw is made Chancellor following the resignation of Gordon Brown (but that, I'm afraid, is another story).
Hunter Davies returns next week