Stewart was an amazing person - A wonderful husband, a fantastic brother, a loving son and an adored uncle. He was also a brilliant friend and colleague and is missed by so many people. His family are determined that his death will never be in vain and are doing their part to beat bowel cancer for good. We are fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund which is part of Cancer Research UK and specialises in research into bowel cancer. If you wish to donate to the fund, you can via https://www.justgiving.com/Geraldine-Smith3 .
If you haven’t already done so, please read the article which appeared in the Daily Record and learn from Stewart’s story that you must never be complacent. It makes grim reading for us, his family, even though we were beside him throughout his ordeal, or battle; call it what you will. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/lifestyle/heartbroken-widow-geraldine-smith-raises-3452997
Similarly, if you haven’t heard it, please listen to Geraldine’s moving radio interview which was on Radio Scotland recently.
Stewart began writing The Grambler when he was between procedures and hoping for some form of recovery. He loved all aspects of football and was a lifelong Motherwell supporter. His wish was that The Grambler should continue after his death and I have been happy to oblige. Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see. Read on and enjoy…
Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful
And, since we’ve no place to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Thank you Dean for those opening words. Time to wax lyrical. For the first time in a couple of years I look around me and see snow. Snow just looks beautiful, doesn’t it? I think there is something magical about trees being draped in a white winter coat. And I can also hear that wonderful sound of children laughing and giggling as they leave their houses to play in the snow, to throw snowballs, sledge or build a snowman, perchance. It is the one thing guaranteed to get them away from their i-phones, tablets and laptops. Although there is probably some weirdo, somewhere, building a virtual snowman while sitting inside when there is snow outside to be frolicked in.
I mentioned the weather a few weeks ago in Week 19 - The Grambler's guide to flood prevention which highlighted the current problem of flooding in low-lying areas. I pointed out that I live in a town which is 170 metres above sea level, so we never get any flooding other than the odd localised spot. However, that 170 metres provides another weather problem - snow. Here in my hometown of Polomint City, we are the first to get snow because, basically, we live on top of a hill. Often I will don my wellies, scarf, woolly hat, thick gloves etc. if I am venturing out into the deep snow and, after travelling a few miles in any direction, there is no sign of the white stuff and I feel a bit of a twonk dressed in my arctic snow gear.
Of course, if you have wobbly pins, as I do, snow is best avoided. Nowadays, though I still think snow transforms the land to make it look wonderful, I prefer to see it from inside a warm building, in the same way as old Dino does.
Okay, so being in snow is not really appreciated by us oldies, but it is brilliant for kids. And, believe it or not, I was once a kid. I enjoyed some fantastic snowball fights, until someone got hit square in the face and ran home crying. Usually me.
I constructed some epic snowmen too. At six years of age, I was convinced that the 3 feet high snowman I built was a towering giant. The pictures of me standing next to it proved otherwise.
By the time I reached the age of eight, snowmen were old hat. I assumed Eskimo mode and attempted to build... wait for it... an igloo. The method of doing this involved filling a large bucket with snow and building a circular wall with the ‘bricks’ of snow emptied out of it. The lowest level was easy; the second tier less so. This was because it had to tilt inwards to begin the hemispherical igloo shape. By the time I was onto the third tier, the angle was becoming a bit precarious. I very rarely got any further than that, because the walls collapsed in on themselves. Hmm... igloo building was not easy, especially if you were an eight year old with no knowledge of physics. Actually, I often ran out of snow before the collapse. That’s what you get for attempting to build such a complex structure in a small enclosed garden.
I also enjoyed sledging. I say sledging. The ‘sledge’ was a breadboard. I don’t think the breadboard’s superb aerodynamic qualities are recognised by enough people. Yes, it was only a flat piece of plywood measuring about five by two and a half feet but, to us eight year olds, breadboards were the sleekest, fastest form of transport down a hill covered in packed snow. The good thing about a breadboard was that several people could fit on it for the ride down the hill. I think the best we managed was ten; double-decked, of course. And, while there were ten on board at the start of a descent, a few had fallen off by the end of it. Great fun and you were well cocooned in several layers of warm clothing, so nobody got hurt; you just bounced.
It is one such descent I will tell you about. After an hour or so of breadboarding, some of my pals were leaving to go home for tea. Eventually, just one mate and I were left. Did I mention that a burn (stream) ran perpendicular to the hill. Now, when there was a few aboard, the breadboard always stopped well short of the burn. You know where this is going, don’t you? Have you seen the film It’s a Wonderful Life? You know the bit where the hero’s brother ends up nearly drowning because his sledge of choice (a shovel) didn’t stop in time? Luckily, brother George jumps in to save him. Any road up, my mate and I decided to really put our breadboard through its paces. Not only were we going to use it with only one aboard, but the other was going to give it one almighty shove to send it on its way. Guess who was the test pilot. Yep. Got it in one.
We hadn’t realised that the board with its much lighter load (me) would go considerably faster than had previously been the case (As I said, as an eight year old, I had yet to learn any physics at all; Newton’s laws were certainly alien to me.). Having been shoved off, I felt I was travelling several times faster than I had previously been doing. It was also apparent that the board was going to travel a lot further before it came to a halt. A sensible person would have rolled off safely before the board hit the burn. Not me. Perhaps I thought that the board would have enough momentum to actually leap the burn. That might have been possible had both banks of the stream been the same height. Unfortunately for me, the further away bank was a foot or so higher than the bank on the side we were playing. The board, with me still on it, hit the opposite bank at speed and immediately changed direction as it slipped backwards into the icy water which must have been all of six inches deep.
So, we didn’t have to call the lifeguard (or George Bailey), but I did have to walk home with my clothes wringing wet. Did that put an end to my breadboard sledging? Of course not. Clothes were changed and tea consumed in double quick time after which we headed back to the hill in the darkness to improve our technique, with some emphasis put on ‘bailing out’ at the right moment.
Any birthdays to celebrate this Saturday, the 23rd of January? Indeed, yes. I think I can say without fear of contraception, some. John Hancock 1737 (No, not Tony’s dad; John H was the guy who signed the Declaration of Independence with such a large scrawl, it is visible from space. His name has now become a US term for signature, so if ever anyone asks to see your John Hancock, don’t follow your instinct to punch him in the mouth.), Edouard Manet 1832 (Impressionist; his James Cagney had them rolling in the aisles.), Randolph Scott 1898 (Cue Blazing Saddles clip ), Dan Duryea 1907 (Tummy trouble, as in, ‘I’ve got a touch of Dan Duryea.’), Django Reinhardt 1910 (Guitar genius - click here to listen to a sample. Eat your heart out Clapton.), Bob Paisley 1919 (Footy god), Rutger Hauer 1944 (Trivia: was first choice to play Robocop.), Anita Pointer 1948 (Singing brickie.) and Ewen Bremner 1972 (Spud.).
Before we move onto grambling matters, the Beeb Beeb Ceeb has dug up a bit of footage from 1985 showing a young and workshy Gary Lineker ‘helping’ at his dad’s market stall. Thought you might like to see it - click here . If only he'd shown a bit more interest; he could have been running that stall today, but no, he wanted to be a footballer.
Let’s move on to grambling matters. What happened last week? We won. Again. Yay! No, not yay. We only got £1.71 back from our £2.20 stake. What happened? All is revealed below, fair reader...
Bristol (not Birmingham) City vs Middlesbrough - Prediction Away win
Result - Bristol (not Birmingham) City 1 Middlesbrough 0
Kike sent an early shot wide for Boro while Dimitrios Konstantopoulos (Try saying that after a couple of sherries) saved well from City forward Wes Burns.
Jonathan Kodjia's weak shot was kept out and Luke Ayling's header tipped over by Konstantopoulos while Albert Adomah lobbed over the bar for Boro.
The game looked to be heading for a draw before Burns diverted Aden Flint's late header past the Boro keeper.
Hull vs Charlton - Prediction Home win
Result - Hull 6 Charlton 0
An emphatic Yay!
Abel Hernandez hit a hat-trick as Charlton took a hammering at Hull City. They went 2-0 down inside the opening 16 minutes thanks to two smart finishes from Hernandez.
Robert Snodgrass made it three with a wonderful finish before Hernandez got his hat-trick to make it 4-0.
After the break, Mo Diame fired home a classy shot and teenager Isaac Hayden's deflected effort ended the scoring.
Dagenham & Redbridge vs Northampton - Prediction Away win
Result - Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Northampton 2
Christian Doidge put Dagenham in front, turning home a Josh Passley cross.
John-Joe O'Toole met a Nicky Adams corner to head in the leveller before Ricky Holmes won it with a fine volley.
Hartlepool vs Wycombe - Prediction Away win
Result - Hartlepool 1 Wycombe 0
Scott Fenwick side-footed home Nathan Thomas' superb cross for the only goal.
Wycombe keeper Matt Ingram then produced an impressive stop to keep out Jordan Richards' 20-yard free-kick.
Michael Woods missed a gilt-edged chance to make it 2-0 on the hour and Pools' profligacy was nearly punished when Aaron Pierre forced goalkeeper Trevor Carson into a stunning save.
Plymouth vs Stevenage - Prediction Home win
Result - Plymouth 3 Stevenage 2
The hosts took an early lead when Carl McHugh headed home from a Jake Jervis corner after three minutes before Charlie Lee levelled with a shot at the far post after six minutes.
Jervis crossed for Gregg Wylde to head home and McHugh set up Craig Tanner to score from 18 yards and make it 3-1 at the break.
Lee slid in to score his second but the Pilgrims held on for the win.
Let’s see if The Grambler can get back to his/her/its winning ways this week. As usual, The Grambler has randomly selected five from the 58 games taking place this Saturday, the 23rd of January at 3pm. The selections are...
Game - Result - Odds
Fulham vs Hull - Prediction Away win - 19/20
Burton vs Shrewsbury - Prediction Home win - 8/13
Crewe vs Wigan - Prediction Away win - 4/7
Walsall vs Blackpool - Prediction Home win - 8/13
Elgin vs Berwick - Prediction Home win - 4/9
If the bets (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) all go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will benefit to the tune of… fanfare please…
Hmm. Not a lot.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you who was the last English-born manager to win the FA Cup. The answer has recently become a director of Southern League side Wimborne Town. Sorry pardon excuse me? Yes it is everybody’s favourite geezer (it says here) Harry Rednapp, who led Portsmouth to cup victory in 2008.
One for this week? Here’s a fun one for you; 19 teams with ‘United’ in their name have played in the English League. Name as many as you can. Answer next week.
Once again, let’s finish with a mention of the main reason for continuing to publish this blog – to raise awareness about bowel cancer. If you have any bowel problems, don’t be fobbed off with the line that you are too young for bowel cancer to be a consideration. Just point your doctor in the direction of http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/campaigns-policy/latest-campaigns/never-too-young-campaign .
And finally, Cyril? And finally Esther, I am indebted to a Mr G. Lineker for giving me a tenuous link to an image to end this week’s edition of thegrambler.com. As you saw from the short film from the Beeb’s archives, Gazza was never going to make it as a market stall holder. Thank goodness he could kick a ball about a bit. Since retiring from being a baller of foot, he has carved out a career as a sports presenter plus, he has managed to remain the ‘face’ of Walkers’ Crisps. Now this week’s image may have nothing at all to do with that brand of crisps, but that doesn’t stop me from using it. Methinks crisp makers are taking themselves and their products, which (let us not kid ourselves) are nothing more than ‘snacks’, a little too seriously...