The Longshot: Souness sourness on McClean stance

Pundit decides that Derry man's treatment at hands of supporters is deserved because he won't wear a poppy
The Longshot: Souness sourness on McClean stance

PROBLEMATIC EMBLEMATIC: Ireland and Wigan winger James McClean has faced further criticism for not wearing the poppy.

AND so we reach 11/11/22. We’ll have one more mathematically pleasing date like this in two years and that will be it then until the 22nd Century, when you and I dear reader will have departed, or at least have been uploaded to whatever version of the cloud they have then.

My cousin actually had his wedding planned for 10/10/20 until Covid intervened. And, yes, he is a farmer.

These dates are also handy in being able to be understood on both sides of the Atlantic.

Today is of course also the anniversary of Armistice Day for WW1. So it’s the final day of the year for well-known people across the Irish Sea to make sure they’re wearing poppy on their lapel before going out the door, or face down the barrage otherwise.

The most famous conscientious pop-jector is James McClean, who hit back at Graeme 'Man-up' Souness this week for suggesting he needed to “get on with it” and ignore the abuse he gets if he is to continue refusing to wear the flower.

Souness cited 10,000 Irish soldiers dying between 1914-18 deserving recognition from the Wigan player: “It will be an annual thing he has to take on the chin because he has chosen to go down this road.”

McClean quickly got in contact with the radio show Souness was speaking on, saying he “doesn’t appreciate the level of abuse I have to endure.”

“I got on with it for a very long time until it became not just an issue for me, but my family too.

“It is one thing taking abuse, but when your family is involved, it means a totally different thing.

“I would suggest he’s not in a position to talk about it as I am, that he doesn’t appreciate the level of abuse I have to endure.”

Souness remained unmoved.

What do the British Legion, who organise the annual remembrance campaign, think?

They have publicly stated that McClean’s decision not to wear the poppy should be respected as it embodies the freedom which the cause champions and that their armed forces fought for.

It’s all a far cry from Kentucky Fried Chicken in Germany, who decided to remember the fallen in their own special way this week.

The fast-food chain sent a push notification to customers on Wednesday encouraging them to “treat themselves” on the anniversary of the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom.

“Treat yourself to softer cheese and crispy chicken,” German customers were told as a way to commemorate the day Nazi rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, when more than 7,000 Jewish shops and department stores were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 were arrested and then imprisoned in concentration camps - the foremost signal of what was to come.

Perhaps the chain might have The Night of No Knives or Forks next year. Is this really what Colonel Saunders (whose title was honorary rather than military) would have wanted?

Ronnie not worried about pot shots after refusing to shake hands

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN defeated reigning champ Judd Trump in the final to take the Champion of Champions title last weekend on the baize.

Last week we wrote: “Ronnie O’Sullivan has contested eight renewals of this competition, winning three times and making the final on two other occasions, so 4/1 seems decent, even if his form is a bit iffy.” 

The most dramatic moment from the 10-6 decider was when the Rocket decided not to congratulate the Juddernaut after the latter banged in a 147.

Trump got the hump that Ronnie refused to stand up and shake his hand in recognition of the achievement.

Trump was trailing 6-1 at the time, but knocked in a remarkable clearance that had the crowd on their feet.

Trump said: “You celebrate making the 147, turn around and put your cue down and I kind of expected Ronnie to get up and say well done.

The Two Ronnies: Two faces of the Rocket eye up Judd Trump’s final few balls before his 147. Neither would shake his hand after the achievement.
The Two Ronnies: Two faces of the Rocket eye up Judd Trump’s final few balls before his 147. Neither would shake his hand after the achievement.

“That is just the normal thing to do. It is a special feat for anyone and it would have been nice to get his seal of approval. At that point in the final, when he was still 6-2 up, he knows if he plays half-decent he is going to win. So you would have expected him to be relaxed enough to say good things, especially after what happened at the World Championships final (when Trump gave O’Sullivan a long embrace for winning).”

 O’Sullivan was asked about the incident afterwards, and said he “didn’t care” what people thought of the snub.

It was of course in the ha’penny place compared to some other pinching of paw incidents.

The most famous one recently we will recall was the prolonged courtship ritual performed by former master and student Brian Cody and Henry Shefflin on the Croke Park pitch last summer after the Leinster hurling final. Alas, the former’s departure as Cats boss means we’ll not see such hand-to-hand non-combat from those two again but rest assured some GAA bosses next season will refuse to find each other for a palm pump next year. It’s all a bit silly, but you can’t say it doesn’t add a frisson to each occasion. However I’m still waiting for the bainisteoir who attempts a ‘high-five, low five, too slow’ with his opposite number. Then we’ll really see the fireworks begin.

Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price.
Michael van Gerwen and Gerwyn Price.

Gerwan, Gerwyn, and Wright

THE headline might sound like a high-street solicitors, but is actually the top three in the market for the Grand Slam of darts, which begins this weekend.

Dutchman Michael van Gerwan and world number one Welshman (for arrows at least) Gerwyn Price lead the betting, at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively.

One of these two has won the Grand Slam of Darts in six of the past seven years.

In fact, the only other player that has won in this year’s field is Raymond Van Barneveld, who is a 200/1 outsider.

Reigning world champ, the mohawked Peter Wright, is 7/1. In March, Wright became the PDC world number one for the first time, becoming the 11th player to do so and the oldest ever first timer, at 51.

He has since slipped back behind Price, who should probably be favourite, as his wins are more recent, coming in 2018, 2019, and 2021, compared to 2015, 2016, and 2017 for Van Gerwan.

Antrim man Josh Rock is a 20/1 shot after winning his first PDC ranking event a few weeks back.

The 21-year-old averaged 108, winning all eight legs in 15 darts or under to scoop the £12,000 prize money in the Players Championship 28 final in Barnsley.

Cricket decider

ENGLAND and Pakistan will compete for the T20 World Cup this weekend after the former hammered a much-fancied India in their semi-final match.

For Pakistan, that’s probably a good thing, because as much as they’d like to win, they will be relieved that a defeat by their next-door neighbours is no longer a possibility.

In fact, there may be no winner. The weather forecast for Melbourne is very poor.

There’s a reserve day on Monday, but the forecast isn’t great then either. If the match can’t be completed, the trophy will be shared.

As unsatisfying as that sounds for either side, there is a precedent: The winners of the 2002 Champions Trophy were Sri Lanka and India.

The current odds have England 8/13 favourites to add another World Cup to their pelt, while Pakistan are 7/5.

Pakistan were also impressive in their semi win over New Zealand I’d fancy them to prevail.

The Bet

STAT of the week is surely Mahon man Caohmin Kelleher has now won four penalty shootouts in 18 appearances for Liverpool. Their EFL Cup victory over Derby makes him Anfield’s most successful spot-kick goalie. He’d probably catch all three darts if he stood in front of a dartboard. Take Peter Wright at 7/1 to win the Grand Slam of Darts.

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