Third Ruck from the Son


A great book does not necessarily make a great movie. Catch 22 is probably the seminal piece of literature of the twentieth century (if we choose to overlook Derek McGovern on Sports Betting); yet the film was a major disappointment. Somewhat conversely, I found George Orwell’s tale of Soviet totalitarianism quite heavy going, but I must have watched Animal Farm 17 times.

One story that is absolutely crying out for the transfer to celluloid is the life and times of Harry Redknapp. Harry has unrealistically named Ray Winstone as an ideal candidate to play the leading role; I’d have cast Timothy Spall. I have it on good authority that Spall would consider any offer, so I’m knocking up a script entitled ‘The Buying, the Twitch and the Hoard Probe‘.

Harry is still understandably seething after the police raided his home at the crack of dawn. Harry can consider himself fortunate that it wasn’t the West Midlands filth who were on the case, as he’d probably have been charged with 47 crimes. I feel like I’m stitching up the bookmakers by taking 6/5 for a Villa win over Pompey.

I was a little perturbed when I read that the Liverpool supporters were right behind Rafa Benitez; I thought it was a prelude to a carjacking. Fernando Torres has already bagged a hat-trick at the Madejski this season; the Spanish sensation can lead the Pool to another win over Reading at 8/11.

Steve Gibson should accept some responsibility for the dire state of English football. If the imperturbable chairman had the nouse to sack floundering managers at the appropriate juncture, the England supporters would be packing their balaclavas next summer. Gibson is once again supporting an incompetent incumbent: Arsenal will hammer home the message at 8/15.

I couldn’t understand the furore surrounding Robbie Keane’s dismissal against Birmingham last week. For me, there’s nothing wrong with ‘4th official consultation’, or ‘Dowd syndrome’ as it will hopefully be labelled. Manchester City have lost their last three matches at White Hart Lane and Elano is a serious doubt: 6/5 for Spurs is practically a gift.

Everton are a confident call at home to the travelsick Fulham. The Cottagers have never won a league match at Goodison Park in their history, and their six Premier League visits have earned them a total of zero points. I’d sooner leave my grandmother unsupervised with Wayne Rooney than miss out on the Toffeemen at 3/5.

David Bentley has been likened to David Beckham. I’ve been left completely flummoxed by this comparison; I can only assume he has a girlfriend who can’t sing. I’ll be screaming like a bint if West Ham hold Blackburn to a draw at 11/4.

Apparently, prison holds no fear for Joey Barton; I guess he’s looking forward to the family reunion. I’m embracing the 10/11 for a Newcastle win over Birmingham like a long-lost law-abiding brother.

Wigan are in a real fight at the wrong end of the table, which may explain why they appointed a manager who looks like he’s gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. Wigan have now gone 12 matches without a win; I’ll be punching the bag if Bolton fail to land the spoils at 11/10.

If Manchester United v Derby was a boxing match, it would never get sanctioned; unless it was a Frank Warren promotion. Fergie is always up for the fight; I just hope his Dad can follow his lead. I’ll get a few rounds in after United slam the Rams at 1/7.

When Ashley Cole retires from football, he should consider a career in the fight game. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see the combative defender end up in the ring. I’d advise Frank Lampard against considering pugilism though; he’d struggle to find an opponent in his weight class. You won’t have to wait too long for a return if you take 1/5 for a Chelsea win over Sunderland.

I believe Ricky Hatton can emerge victorious from his mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather. Ricky has the skill, the belief, the intensity and the heart, and even more importantly, the most talked about hook since Abu Hamza. The ‘Pretty Boy’ has an impressive record, but he struggles when opponents bring the fight to him; and Ricky will be all over him like the old bill on Harry Redknapp. For me, this is a 60/40 fight; making 9/5 about the Hitman particularly agreeable.

I had quite a respectable record when I used to fight at junior school. I remember beating up the toughest kid in Year 6: that’ll teach him for questioning last week’s accumulator. Aston Villa, Newcastle, Bolton and Tottenham form a 15/1 accer that will land a knockout blow to the bookies.

(‘Third Ruck from the Son’ image: From left to right: Portsmouth Chief Executive Peter Storrie, ex-agent of Steve McLaren Colin Gordon, Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce, Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, and former Portsmouth now Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric. Artwork by Marco Pantanella)

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