The per­fect tale for af­ter din­ner

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Robert Bar­man

SOME­TIMES I think sports­men do stupid things de­lib­er­ately, just to give them­selves a few amus­ing anec­dotes for the lu­cra­tive af­ter-din­ner speak­ing cir­cuit once their play­ing days are over. You can just pic­ture a packed cor­po­rate func­tion in the year 2021: a room full of mildly sloshed ex­ec­u­tives guf­faw help­lessly as Andrew Flintoff re­counts the night he got into a bit of bother with a ped­alo in the Caribbean. Th­ese sto­ries get ex­ag­ger­ated in the telling as the years pass. At the mo­ment, Flintoff is be­ing nec­es­sar­ily coy about the ex­tent of his spon­ta­neous sail­ing ad­ven­ture, telling a press con­fer­ence: “There was wa­ter in­volved and a ped­alo as well. But I don’t want to go into de­tail.” Given a few years and the need to play it for laughs, you can be sure that the ped­alo story will have been em­bel­lished to the point where Flintoff sails half way to Cuba, gets kid­napped by al Qaeda death squads and is even­tu­ally res­cued by the SAS. Then goes on to score a cen­tury the next day. Tales of blokey mis­be­haviour and bawdi­ness are, of course, what re­vi­sion­ist sport­ing his­tory re­quires. No one will pay good money to hear how a player stayed in the night be­fore a cru­cial match with a mug of Hor­licks and a Touch of Frost DVD and scored a use­ful 70 the next day. Ian Botham and for­mer Eng­land bats­man Al­lan Lamb once em­barked on a spo­ken word tour, un­der the ban­ner “Beefy and Lamb in a Stew”, and you can bet there was very lit­tle anal­y­sis of ei­ther player’s for­ward de­fen­sive stroke but plenty of tales of the “still scored a cen­tury af­ter a drunken night” variety. It would, how­ever, be a shame if Flintoff’s achieve­ments were over­shad­owed by an ap­par­ent de­sire to tick the box marked char­ac­ter. It’s clear that we can ei­ther have sports­men who win or we can have char­ac­ters, but rarely both. The af­ter-din­ner cir­cuit is never likely to be trou­bled by Jonathan Ed­wards’ Triple Jump Fun­nies or The Crazy World of Jonny Wilkin­son be­cause, while be­ing suc­cess­ful, such sports­men are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered too dull be­cause they never in­dulged in pranks of the “Deep Heat in the jock­strap“ variety. But they’ll prob­a­bly have the last laugh. Hav­ing won medals and things, they can en­ter the even more lu­cra­tive world of mo­ti­va­tional speak­ing, where tales of late-night drink­ing are gen­er­ally frowned upon any­way.

Steve Con­sta­ble is away.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.