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24 January 2000updated 07 Sep 2021 6:03am

Grassroots

New Statesman Scotland

By Staff Blogger

Shinty is one of the very few traditional Scottish sports that can be said to be alive and well. Although largely confined to the Highlands and Islands, there is nothing insular in its outlook. Which, doubtless, partly explains why well-known rugby coach Ian McGeechan was recently invited to take part in a shinty coaching seminar in Fort William.

While shinty could never be said to be a sport for shrinking violets – tales of camans and cracked crania are legion – this input from the world of rugby is slightly perturbing. Does this signal shinty’s intention to toughen up the game even more?

The recent World Club football championship in Brazil attracted more interest than initially envisaged. Certainly Nicholas Anelka of Real Madrid, who was bought for £22 million from Arsenal last summer, has cause to be grateful to it. He finally succeeded in breaking his scoring duck after five months of trying – which is not a great return for that investment.

But at least it should put an end to the joke doing the rounds in the bars of Spain, especially Barcelona. What are the three best-kept secrets in the world? The recipe for Coca-Cola; the recipe for Telepizza’s dough; and how Anelka celebrates scoring a goal. Cruel.

For the self-employed, this is a critical time of year for Inland Revenue returns. The gentlemen of the Revenue tend to be very assiduous in the performance of their duties, in the course of which they frequently hear explanations like, “Sorry, guv, simple mistake”.

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Despite a career spent dodging obstacles at high speed, the former Olympic skiing champion Alberto Tomba has finally met his match in the Italian Revenue, to which he has had to cough up £3.99 million in overdue taxes. With that amount at issue, it is hardly surprising that even Tomba, despite his finely honed reflexes and an eye for a gap, found it difficult to persist in the “simple mistake” routine.

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