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…
What did you used to dress up as at Halloween when you were a nipper?
That's an odd start to this week's edition of the world's greatest ill-informed blog, you must be thinking. I say must... maybe you're not thinking that at all. How would I know? I'm just saying you might be thinking that. Mmm... aye.
Anyway, you might also be thinking that I'm a bit early. It's March, for goodness' sake. Halloween isn't until the end of October.
Anyway, you might also be thinking that I'm a bit early. It's March, for goodness' sake. Halloween isn't until the end of October.
There is a reason for asking. If you were like me, you probably went out guising... that's what kids do in Scotland... none of this trick or treating lark... dressed in something homemade. Cowboys were a popular choice of outfit when I were a lad. [Uh oh, Hovis time. - Ed.] All it needed was a toy gun and a cowboy hat. Nurses' outfits were a popular choice for girls.
I do remember the first time I went out guising at Halloween. I was four and the family had just moved to polo mint city from Derby. Down there, nobody really did Halloween, but up here in Scotland it was a big event in a child's calendar. So it was all a new experience to my big brother and me. My mother, who was a pretty accomplished seamstress, really seemed to relish the chance to make some interesting outfits. My own was quite simple to achieve, although by today's standards a wee bitty racist. I was what used to be known as an ‘onion Johnny’ (which had nothing to do with flavoured condoms). An onion Johnny was a French onion seller who got on his bike and crossed the channel to flog his wares. Basically, my outfit consisted of a pair of jeans, a stripy shirt and a beret. Okay, so mum didn't spend a great deal of time over my outfit... I think she painted a French looking moustache on my mush and threw a string of onions around my neck. Et voila! Le Johnny d'oignon.
She did, however, pull out all the stops for my nine year old brother’s outfit. If my outfit was a bit racist, his was incredibly racist. He was dressed as a ‘Coolie’, an offensive term even then for a labourer from China. Seamstress mum took a length of material and dyed it black before using it to make what, to me, looked like a pair of pyjamas. However, my mother was convinced that this was traditional attire as worn by inhabitants of China. She also made a coolie hat out of black cardboard in a flattish cone shape. To this was sewn a black pleated pigtail. My brother’s eyes received some eyeliner to give a look that Prince Philip might have called slitty-eyed and a droopy moustache was painted on to finish off the ensemble.
Having dressed up, we were made to knock on neighbours’ doors and perform a ‘party piece’ for them. A song was always popular, as was a little poem or joke. I can’t remember what I did, but almost 60 years on, I can remember my brother’s offering. It was a joke which my father made up and thought amusing, but I am certain that my brother hadn’t got a clue what it meant. Are you ready for this? My brother announced himself thus: ‘My name is Ray Ling, a Chinese fence.’ That was it. Not funny then; not funny now.
Where is all this rambling leading? As years passed, people made less and less effort with halloween costumes. Black bin bags became very useful instead of actual sewn outfits. A few suitably shaped bits of paper glued onto a bin bag could create anything from a skeleton to a superhero. So much easier.
Easier still is the current trend of simply buying a ready-made costume. Want to be a Disney character? No problem. There are loads out there in fancy dress shops. Superhero? Yep. A profession that wears a uniform? Check.
Yes, any outfit you could ever want is available for no effort whatsoever. Gone are the days when a mum or dad spent time being creative and making a costume that was unique for each child. At the last school halloween disco (Yeah, I know... Who came up with that one?) my grandchildren attended, most of the boys were dressed as the superhero from whatever was the popular superhero film of the day and most of the girls were dressed as the princess from the then current popular Disney film. It was as if they had changed out of their school uniforms to simply don another. A little bit sad, don’t you think?
That still doesn’t explain why I am mentioning halloween some seven months before it is due to happen. There is another ‘dressing up day’ kid on the block: World Book Day is held in March. The first was held back in the late nineteen nineties, but it is only in recent years that it has taken off, so to speak. School teachers encourage children to dress up as a favourite character in a book. Nice idea, you would agree. Do I have a problem with that? Initially, no. The first couple of times it was held, I thought it marvellous. Mums and dads were again using their ingenuity to create an interesting costume for their children to wear.
This year, however, oh dear. The shops were full of costumes... Harry Potter, Willy Wonka, Dennis the Menace, Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, the Gruffalo and countless others are available to purchase ready-made so that you can dress your child to be just like everyone else... and, hey, no effort, indeed, no thinking, is required.
How sad that businesses have once again hijacked something that we all used to have... imagination.
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? And, as there was no edition of the world’s greatest ill-informed blog last week, you are treated to two weeks of birthday honours.
Were any famous or notorious people born on the 16th of March? Of course, here are some I’ve even heard of. Georg Ohm 1789 (Physicist. Came up with Ohm’s Law. Well, he would, wouldn’t he.), Henny Youngman 1906 (Comedian, it says here. ‘Take my wife... please’ was his best known gag. [Ha bloody ha. - Ed.]), Nawab of Pataudi 1910 (Crickety bloke.), Josef Mengele 1911 (Crazy doctor.), Aldo van Eyck 1918 (Architect.), John Addison 1920 (Composer. Here is your first clip of the week - music composed for A Bridge Too Far.), Leo McKern 1920 (Ectaw, dear leddie.), Jerry Lewis 1926 (Comedian, it says here.), Roger Norrington 1934 (Violinist and conductor. Here he is conducting some Berlioz. [They look like musicians to me. - Ed.]), Bernardo Bertolucci 1940 (Director.), Erik Estrada 1949 (A chip.), Kate Nelligan 1950 (Ectress.), James Bradford aka Jimmy Nail 1954 (Actor and singer. Here’s one of his ’its; something about a pair of shoes.), Nancy Wilson 1954 (Geetarist with Heart. Another clip? Here’s What About Love.), Jenny Eclair 1960 (Comedian.), Jerome Flynn 1963 (Actor and singer. Bronn. Had a few ’its with Robson Green. Here’s their first biggie, Unchained Melody as performed on Soldier Soldier.), Mark Carney 1965 (Governor of the Bank of England.), Aisling Bea 1984 (Comedian.) and Theo Walcott 1989 (Footy bloke.).
Now then... What about the 23rd of March?
Thomas Selle 1599 (Composer. Let’s have a bit of brock.), Johann Matthias Sperger 1750 (Another composer. Here’s some bass without the drum.), Franz Schreker 1878 (Yet another composer. Here he is with the wind.), Joan Crawford 1904 (Ectress.), Wernher von Braun 1912 (Rocket man... burning out his fuse up here alone.), Donald Campbell 1921 (Daredevil who held the world land speed record.), Roger Bannister 1929 (Plucky runny chep from the British empah, don’t-cha-know.), Viktor Korchnoi 1931 (He played chess. I’m sure he did other things as well, but that’s what he is remembered for.), Barry Cryer 1935 (Writer and comedian.), Craig Breedlove 1937 (Daredevil who held the world land speed record. Ever had a feeling of deja vu?), Terry Paine 1939 (Footy bloke.), Ric Ocasek 1943... or it might have been 1944 (A Car. Here’s a toon you may recognise... Drive. [You missed out the L. - Ed.]), Tony McPhee 1944 (A Groundhog. Here’s an eccentric man with an eccentric hairstyle.), Michael Nyman 1944 (Composer and pianist. Here’s a piece you should remember... The Old Joanna.), Alan Bleasdale 1946 (Writer... Gizza job.), Wasim Bari 1948 (Crickety bloke.), Chaka Khan 1953 (Chanter. Chaka Chaka Chaka Khan... Chaka Khan...), Steve Redgrave 1962 (Rower. No, not someone who fell out out with people; he used to row a wee boat.), Damon Albarn 1968 (A blurry gorilla. How about a clip? Here’s Feel Good Inc.), Mike Atherton 1968 (Crickety bloke.), Gail Porter 1971 (Presenter), Jonas Björkman 1972 (Tennisspalare.), Jerzy Dudek 1973 (Piłkarz.), Chris Hoy 1976 (On yer bike!), Dougie Lampkin 1976 (Motorbike racery bloke.), Russell Howard 1980 (Comedian, it says here.), Mo Farah 1983 (Runny bloke.), Jason Kenny 1988 (Mind my bike!) and Gregg Wylde 1991 (Footy bloke.),
Not Tony McPhee
(You have to be quite old to understand that one)
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Mr Slumpspelare,
I am writing on behalf of my son, who wonders why you gave a Gorillaz song as your Damon Albarn link. Surely, [Don’t call me Shirley. - Ed.] he was involved with Blur for much longer, so really you should have given us a song by them. The title song from their first number one album would have made a good choice. Can you remember it?
Yours with oodles of love,
Let’s move onto grambling matters. What happened a fortnight (and a week) ago? A total of only £1.42 back from our £4.40 stake money. That is sh... shameful rubbish! What happened? Read on...
First up, the results from a fortnight ago...
Southampton vs Tottenham - Prediction Away win
Result - Southampton 2 Tottenham 1
James Ward-Prowse earned the win with a sensational free-kick from 25 yards. The midfielder's strike came after calamitous defending allowed Southampton to draw level via Yan Valery, who pounced on Danny Rose's mistake.
Victory seemed unlikely after a first half dominated by Spurs who took the lead when Harry Kane scored his 200th career goal.
Plymouth vs Luton - Prediction Away win
Result - Plymouth 0 Luton 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
The Hatters came close to scoring at the start of the second half as James Collins' goal-bound header had to be tipped onto the crossbar by Argyle's goalkeeper Matt Macey.
Macey was then at full-stretch to keep out Elliot Lee's low drive as Luton upped the tempo.
The 6ft 7ins tall keeper was again extended by Lee, with Macey managing to push yet another shot wide.
At the other end, substitute Ryan Taylor came close with a shot that flew just over the angle.
The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock was in the fourth minute when Argyle's Portuguese play-maker Ruben Lameiras sent a cross-shot flying across James Shea's goal. Plymouth's Freddie Ladapo was inches away from adding a finishing touch.
Macclesfield vs MK Dons - Prediction Away win
Result - Macclesfield 1 MK Dons 3
David Wheeler, Callum Brittain and Kieran Agard struck for the visitors after Nathan Cameron had given Macclesfield a 19th-minute lead.
Elliott Durrell's free-kick into the box was headed back across goal by Botti Biabi and bundled in by the hosts' skipper, Cameron.
Macclesfield had further chances but James Pearson hit the bar and Dons goalkeeper Stuart Moore smothered the danger with Durrell poised to score.
The visitors levelled before the break, Wheeler darting to the near post and glancing in Conor McGrandles' corner.
Rejuvenated by that goal on the stroke of half-time, MK Dons took control following the restart and, after Agard wasted an early chance, Brittain drilled their second goal in through a crowd of players.
Agard's 79th-minute header sealed the victory for the Dons.
Morecambe vs Forest Green - Prediction Away win
Result - Morecambe 3 Forest Green 0
Morecambe enjoyed a dream start, grabbing the opening goal in the sixth minute.
A long ball forward caught out the Forest Green defence and as they failed to clear their lines, Aaron Collins reacted quickly, crossing into the six-yard box where Rhys Oates ran in and forced the ball over the line at full stretch.
The visitors went close to levelling three minutes later when Shawn McCoulsky found space in the box only to see his shot cleared off the line by Morecambe defender Ritchie Sutton.
Morecambe almost doubled their lead when Collins was denied by a superb save from Lewis Ward low to his left but the Shrimps' winger was not to be denied for long as he stroked home his side's second with a low shot from the edge of the box that beat Ward to his right-hand side.
Christian Doidge spurned a great chance to pull one back in first-half stoppage time but headed straight at goalkeeper Mark Halstead, summing up Forest Green's afternoon.
The visitors enjoyed the greater share of possession in the second half but could find no way through a well drilled Morecambe defence.
George Williams looked their most dangerous outlet with two long range shots that were superbly saved by Halstead.
Eventually the visitors were undone for a third time on 71 minutes when Oates stole the ball on the left-hand byline before crossing for Alex Kenyon to score from 12 yards.
Stevenage vs Bury - Prediction Away win
Result - Stevenage 0 Bury 1
Nicky Maynard struck in the fifth minute of added time when he headed past the despairing dive of Paul Farman to snatch the points, with Scott Wharton's brilliant ball in rewarded after flick-ons from Dom Telford and Adam Thompson.
Stevenage had the better of the early play, with the tone set when Moses Makasi was unable to convert a Joel Byrom cross in the opening minutes.
Maynard should have opened the scoring later in the half but failed to control from Caolan Lavery, while Makasi had two further chances before the break, the latter seeing him denied by Joe Murphy.
The second half was more of a scrappy affair, though Stevenage came closest to the breakthrough when Johnny Hunt and Kurtis Guthrie fashioned chances to break the deadlock.
The hosts should have won it when Jordan Gibson was provided with a glorious opening, only for his shot to sail over the bar, before Maynard stole the points at the death.
And now, a week ago...
Brentford vs West Brom - Prediction Home win
Result - Brentford 0 West Bromwich Albion 1
Kyle Edwards scored a stunning solo goal for West Bromwich Albion to ensure victory at Brentford.
It took a captivating run to put the Baggies ahead, Edwards slaloming past a number of Bees players after collecting the ball wide on the right, skipping through challenges before poking his finish past Luke Daniels.
West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone kept the visitors in it at half-time with a series of saves - twice denying Said Benrahma before foiling Julian Jeanvier and Yoann Barbet.
Edwards' stunning individual effort was West Brom's first effort on target, with Daniels then going on to keep Dwight Gayle and Ahmed Hegazi out.
Johnstone's intervention was again needed after the break as he foiled Sergi Canos, a save that capped a fine display by the keeper to help the Baggies secure the win.
Hull vs QPR - Prediction Home win
Result - Hull City 2 Queens Park Rangers 2
Ooh! ’It the bar!
Jarrod Bowen's first-half double had Hull leading 2-0 at half-time, with them looking well set for three points, but Josh Scowen pulled a goal back when his cross drifted in at the far post.
Rangers substitute Tomer Hemed secured a valuable point for the visitors, scrambling in the equaliser from Scowen's cross seven minutes from time.
Sheff Wednesday vs Blackburn - Prediction Home win
Result - Sheffield Wednesday 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Wednesday were on top from the first whistle and went ahead in the 10th minute when Dominic Iorfa delivered a low cross for Steven Fletcher to turn in from close range.
The home side should have stretched their advantage almost immediately as Adam Reach forced a save from David Raya, then saw another effort rebound for Michael Hector to head against the post.
Blackburn improved as the game went on and Bradley Dack and Danny Graham both went close before Atdhe Nuhiu [That’s got to be an anagram. - Ed.] - who had only been on the field for two minutes - made it 2-0, heading in Barry Bannan's free-kick on the hour.
Rovers substitute Craig Conway halved the deficit, collecting Joe Rothwell's pass and curling a shot into the far corner, but the Owls made the points safe with two more goals in quick succession.
Bannan set up both of them, delivering another free-kick that Iorfa scrambled home and then playing a ball through for Marco ‘Rosie’ Matias to make it 4-1.
Elliot Bennett netted a late consolation for Blackburn, picking up Dack's lay-off and finding space to beat Kieren Westwood.
Stoke vs Reading - Prediction Home win
Result - Stoke City 0 Reading 0
Ooh! ’It the bar!
City twice hit the woodwork in the opening quarter of an hour as James McClean teed up Tom Ince, who crashed a shot against the post.
And two minutes later Thibaud Verlinden, sent in a pinpoint cross which Sam Vokes headed against the crossbar.
McClean again teed up Vokes to head just wide before forcing Emiliano Martinez into a superb reaction save, while Modou Barrow was inches from meeting Lewis Baker's low cross and giving Reading a late winner.
Wigan vs Bolton Wanderers - Prediction Home win
Result - Wigan Athletic 5 Bolton Wanderers 2
The Latics took an early lead when Joe Garner headed in a beautifully-whipped Reece James free-kick and, after a fairly even first period, they took complete control thanks to early second-half goals from Gavin Massey and Nick Powell.
Bolton midfielder Gary O'Neil briefly gave the visitors hope, but just a few minutes later Michael Jacobs made the game safe to re-establish the hosts' advantage.
Sammy Ameobi scored a consolation for the Trotters before Leon Clarke added a fifth for Wigan.
That was last week... erm... and the one before it obviously... and pretty rubbishy the predictions were. Can The Grambler make amends this week and provide us with some pennies to send to the Bobby Moore Fund? Probably not, but we’ll keep on trusting him/her/it to come up with five out of five... It sometimes happens, not very often, admittedly, but it does happen. What has he/she/it randomly selected for us this week?
Game - Result - Odds
Burton vs Accrington - Prediction Home win - 17/20
Luton vs Doncaster - Prediction Home win - 4/5
Peterborough vs Southend - Prediction Home win - 10/11
Crawley vs Luton - Prediction Away win - 19/20
Grimsby vs Bury - Prediction Away win - 5/6
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...
24 pees less whopping than a fortnight ago.
Teaser time. Yay! Last week... sorry two weeks ago... I asked you which Englishman has managed Charlton Athletic, Crystal Palace and Hull City in the Premier League. The answer is former Northern Ireland international, Ian Dowie. Hang on a mo... Englishman? Northern Ireland international? How so, I hear you ask. He was born in Hatfield, but his dad was born in Belfast, so that, apparently, made him eligible to play for Northern Ireland. So now you know.
One for this week? Here’s a good one to keep you amused for a few minutes. Here are some anagrams of England managers’ names. See if you can work them out.
A Huge Ghost Treat
Hopefully, you’ll have a bit of fun working them out.
As usual, I remind you 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 B. Cryer who provides us with this week’s finishing item. Here’s a little factoid about Mr Cryer. Did you know that he had a number one record back in 1957? 62 years ago for crying out loud! He recorded a novelty song made famous by the long-forgotten Sheb Wooley. [Wasn’t that a character in Emmerdale? - Ed.] Mr Wooley’s version of this particular song, for some reason, couldn’t be released in Finland. So Barry’s version got the nod. The rest, as they say, is history. Barry became a superstar in Finland thanks to this number one record. Actually, he didn’t. He never troubled the charts again. When you listen to the song, you’ll understand why he became a scriptwriter and comedian rather than a singer. Here is Barry Cryer with Purple People Eater.
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