Welcome to The Grambler, the most ill-informed blog you are ever likely to see.
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. Read on and enjoy…
Did you all get lots of nice things from sanity clause? (Flipping spell checker! And Marx Brothers.) Mrs G and I decided that this year we would do something a little different.
A few years back we, and another couple, thought that giving gifts to each other at Christmas was getting a bit silly. We all agreed that novelty socks and other items of clothing with Santa’s face on them were daft presents. However, rather than cease giving presents altogether, we started ‘buying’ each other charity gifts from Oxfam. Thus, they might buy us some simple farm implements and we might buy them a well. Obviously, we didn’t physically exchange these things; we had simply funded them on each others’ behalf.
There has been much jumping on bandwagons of late and there seems to be no end to the number of different charity gifts one can now give.
There was an advert on tv just before Christmas encouraging people to sponsor 'a snow leopard'. I’m not sure what the snow leopard did in return for that sponsorship; perhaps it would run up a mountain and you would slip it a couple of quid for each ascent. Okay, I’m being facetious. [Just for a change. - Ed.] For a couple of quid a month you could adopt your very own snow leopard and would even get a lovely cuddly toy for your trouble. Now, this particular advertisement was shown several times per night for a number of weeks. Blanket coverage, you might call it. I suspect that, since the snow leopard population can be counted in the hundreds, there might be hundreds of folk supporting each animal. I might be wrong but either the people dishing out these cuddly toys were making a fortune or each and every snow leopard was now living in its own bungalow.
We thought it a nice idea but reckoned that, rather than adopt a fit and healthy creature, we should adopt one that needed a bit of help. We went on line and found a site that was like a zoo for sick animals; wild animals instead of pets. Here, it was possible to adopt an animal that had been injured in some way. There were images of animals such as a rhinoceros that had been hit by a vehicle. You knew it had because there was still a Land Rover bumper wrapped round its neck.
Anyway, Mrs G and I perused the various pics to see which animals we would like to adopt. I happened upon a picture of a small burrowing rodent which had obviously been in battle and lost. One side of its face was basically missing; just a big furry scar from ear to mouth. I was hooked. I said to Mrs G, 'That's the one I'd go for.'
Boom and indeed tish! Thank you, thank you. You're too kind.
[You’ve done it again! You’ve conned us into thinking this was a true story just so that you could tell a feeble joke! Shame on you. - Ed.]
Sorry. It was all a pack of lies. Mrs G got me a new jacket.
A burrowing rodent without sight problems
Were any famous or notorious people born on the 30th of December? Of course. Here are some I’ve even heard of. Rudyard Kipling 1865 (Vigorous sexual activity.), Stephen Leacock 1869 (Humorist, it says here.), Hideki Tojo 1884 (General.), Carol Reed 1906 (Film director and producer. Think his parents wanted a girl.), Paul Bowles 1910 (Composer, author and translator. Here’s a rather nice piece for our first clip of the week. [Paul Bowles? Didn’t he play for Man United? - Ed.]), Ian Macnaughton 1925 (Director and producer of Monty Python’s Flying Circussss.), Stan Tracey 1913 (Jehzzz musician. Another clip? Why not. Here's Llareggub.), Elias Bates aka Elias McDaniel, but better known as Bo Diddley 1928 (Singer and geeetarist. Here’s another clip for you to enjoy. Watch the technique.), Skeeter Davis 1931 (Singer/songwriter. Here’s one you might recognise... End of the World.), Barry Briggs 1934 (Motorbike racey bloke.), Del Shannon 1934 (Singer. Shall we have another clip? I wa wa wa wonder which one...), Russ Tamblyn 1934 (Actor and dancer. He was Tom Thumb, you know.), Gordon Banks 1937 (The greatest goalie the world has ever known. He must be; the Beeb Beeb Ceeb tell us at every World Cup.), Paul Stookey 1937 (Who? Better known as ‘Paul’, as in Peter, Paul and Mary. A clip? Here’s one for the kids.), Michael Nesmith 1942 (A Monkee. Another clip? And why not. Here’s a non-Monkee hit.), Davy Jones 1945 (Another Monkee. This time we will have a Monkee hit.), Clive Bunker 1946 (Drummer. Here he is with Steve Hillage back in 1977 with Salmon Song. Long live prog!), Patti Smith 1946 (Singer songwriter. There could only be one clip to give you... Because The Night.), Berti Vogts 1946 (Footy bloke.), Jeff Lynne 1947 (Eee, hello. A clip? Here’s Mr Blue Sky.), David Bedford 1949 (Runnery bloke.), Tracey Ullman 1959 (Ectress, comedian, singer, dancer, screenwriter, director, producer and author... In fact, a right old smartyboots. Credited with bringing the Simpsons to the screen. She had the occasional hit back in the day... Would you like to hear one? Cue clip number 12, or is it 13? Here's They Don't Know.), Ben Johnson 1961 (Sprinty bloke.), Charlie Nicholas 1961 (Footy bloke.), Heidi Fleiss 1965 (A bit of a madam.) and Tiger Woods 1975 (Golfy bloke. Not a real tiger.).
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Mumbler,
I am so pleased that you included a track by the Electric Light Orchestra in this week’s links. Here’s a teaser for you... What was ELO’s first number one single? Admittedly it was number one in South Africa, but it still counts.
Felicitations to you,
Lee Van Thing.
Let’s move onto grambling matters. How did last week’s bet fare? It won. It did and all. Four out of five correct predictions gave us a Boxing Day return of four quids. Yay! What happened? Read on...
Bristol City vs Reading - Prediction Home win
Result - Bristol City 2 Reading 0
Jamie Paterson broke the deadlock on 68 minutes with a superb right-footed shot into the top right corner.
Lloyd Kelly sealed victory in the third minute of injury time with a deflected shot which also found the top corner.
Doncaster vs Northampton - Prediction Home win
Result - Doncaster 3 Northampton 0
Andy Butler, Ben Whiteman and Tommy ‘Dizzy’ Rowe all went close to giving Doncaster the lead before James Coppinger did, bundling in from close range in the 33rd minute after John ‘Mary’ Marquis and Alfie May both had efforts saved.
Northampton were rather toothless throughout but Shaun McWilliams drew a fine low save from Ian Lawlor.
Moments later, Matt Grimes clipped Marquis from behind in the box and Niall Mason drilled home the penalty to make it 2-0 on 43 minutes.
Doncaster were comfortable after the break with Northampton struggling to threaten.
And they put the game to bed in the 66th minute when Butler forced the ball home after a Mathieu ‘Long John’ Baudry header was cleared off the line.
MK Dons vs Plymouth - Prediction Home win
Result - MK Dons 0 Plymouth 1
Plymouth took the lead in the 16th minute after some good work from Toumani Diagouraga in midfield allowed him to roll a neat through ball into the path of the onrushing Gary ‘Tom’ Sawyer to the left of the MK Dons box, before the experienced left-back coolly slotted home. It was his first Argyle goal since Boxing Day 2009... exactly eight years!
Dons keeper Lee Nicholls almost gifted the Pilgrims a second after rolling the ball straight to Ryan Taylor on the edge of his own box, but the forward saw his first-time effort fly just wide of goal.
Morecambe vs Notts County - Prediction Away win
Result - Morecambe 1 Notts County 4
Jorge Grant scored twice; his first came as County scored with their first attack of any note. Adam Campbell gave the ball away sloppily in his own half and the visitors took full advantage.
Lewis Alessandra took the ball into the box and pulled it back for Grant to score with a first-time right-footed shot from 10 yards that beat Barry Roche.
Notts County’s second came on 21 minutes as Alessandra turned goalscorer with a fine finish. A free-kick was floated into the Morecambe area and the ball was headed down for the former Morecambe man to hit a stunning volley past Roche and into the right hand corner of the home goal.
Morecambe then went on to control the possession and create a number of half-chances. Andy Fleming twice fired efforts wide from 20 yards, Garry Thompson headed straight at Ross Fitzsimons from close range and on the stroke of half-time Campbell volleyed a Thompson cross over from close range.
Campbell was guilty of wasting a glorious chance for the Shrimps when he blazed over on 57 minutes and was made to pay when the Magpies added a third two minutes later when Grant exchanged passes with Jon Stead before sliding the ball past Roche.
Alessandra got his second four minutes from time when he scored at the second attempt after Roche saved his close-range effort before the Shrimps pulled one back in the last minute when Callum Lang clipped a superb effort over Fitzsimons from the edge of the box.
Swindon vs Luton - Prediction Away win
Result - Swindon 0 Luton 5
Paul Mullin and Olly Lancashire both came close for the hosts early in the first half, before Glen Rea volleyed over the bar from close range for the away side.
Swindon's best chance came when Kaiyne Woolery broke down the right but over-hit his cross past Keshi Anderson, who would have had a tap-in.
Luton then broke the deadlock early in the second half when James Collins cut inside and fired a curling effort into the top left corner.
Danny Hylton then doubled the visitors' lead with a firm header across goal for his 15th goal of the season.
Matt Taylor slid in to divert Collins' cross into his own net, before substitute Harry Cornick struck a fierce shot past goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Elliot Lee ran at the Swindon defence and curled a low shot into the corner in the 84th minute to round off a comfortable victory.
I wonder what predictions The Grambler will give us for the last gramble of this period which we celebrate for the Earth having completed an orbit around the sun...
Game - Prediction - Odds
Brentford vs Sheffield Wed - Prediction Home win - 19/20
Burton Albion vs Norwich - Prediction Away win - 11/10
Middlesbrough vs Aston Villa - Predicxtion Home win - Evens
Blackburn vs Scunthorpe - Prediction Home win - 3/4
Bradford vs Oxford Utd - Prediction Home win - 3/4
Let’s see how much we could win in the unlikely event that the results go as predicted.
The bets have been placed (10 x 20 pee doubles plus 1 x 20 pee accumulator) and if they all go according to The Grambler’s Prediction, the Bobby Moore Fund stands to receive a whopping...
Uh oh. A bit too whopping.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week I asked you which two teams Arsenal failed to beat in season 2003-4 when they were unbeaten for the whole campaign. One was Manchester United and the other was newly promoted Portsmouth. It suggested great things for Portsmouth who went on to... drop right down to Division 2 (Division 4 in old money). Luckily, they have now started improving and were promoted as League Two champions at the end of last season.
One for this week? Sticking with Arsenal from around the same era. In 2002 Arsenal (down to nine men) beat a Liverpool side (down to ten men) in a rather bad-tempered FA Cup tie. This week’s two-part question is, who was the Liverpool player who got sent off and what was the reason for his dismissal? One to ask down the pub.
As usual, 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 I. Macnaughton who produced all but a handful of the Monty Python’s Flying Circus programmes. I think an example of his work deserves a link. Don’t you? Here's the Hungarian phrasebook sketch.
That’s all for this week folks, but remember you can read the musings of The Grambler every week by going to the blog at www.thegrambler.com