Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The NHS at 65: chaos, queues and mounting costs (Guardian)

What national healthcare in Britain looks like in 10 years' time depends more on the future of politics than on economics, writes Polly Toynbee.

2. How Carney can succeed in his mission (Financial Times)

Even if he can perform no miracles, the new BoE governor may prove a lucky one, says Martin Wolf.

3. Miliband must defeat Labour’s union barons (Times)

Could it look any worse for Ed – losing control of his party to a public sector union that demands an end to cuts, asks Philip Collins.

4. Coup in Cairo is a rude awakening (Financial Times)

The help the region needs is not of the type the west has been giving, writes Philip Stephens.

5. Tory union-bashing may come at a price (Daily Telegraph)

Attacks on Unite could alienate those workers who are also natural Conservative voters, says Isabel Hardman.

6. Forcing down Evo Morales's plane was an act of air piracy (Guardian)

Denying the Bolivian president air space was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world, says John Pilger.

7. Paying for Pensions (Times)

The over-60s have been least affected by austerity, notes a Times editorial. But the triple lock on pensions is no longer affordable.

8. It is capitalism, not democracy, that the Arab world needs most (Daily Telegraph)

Property rights for aid: this could be the most effective anti-poverty strategy in history, says Fraser Nelson.

9. How the unions got Red Ed in a headlock (Daily Mail)

Any Labour candidate for either council or parliamentary elections must now be a member of a trade union, writes Andrew Pierce. 

10. When is a military coup not a military coup? When it happens in Egypt, apparently (Independent)

Those Western leaders who are telling us Egypt is still on the path to “democracy” have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election, writes Robert Fisk.

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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?”

“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