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 The Grambler’s Kick Cancer’s Backside (cancerresearchuk.org).
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
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…
You must be wondering what happened last week. First week of the new football season and no (g)ramble, what the blibbing flip is going on?
I was getting ready to publish last week's edition with a eulogy to Bernard Cribbens (who had died aged 93) when other events got in the way. What events? Pull up a chair and I'll tell ee.
As you know, it has been a huge week for football. I thought, this is supposed to be a football blog [You could have fooled me. - Ed.] so let’s consider the big football story of the week.
Last Sunday, we were all perched on the edge of our chairs willing the team to win. Had they got the bottle? Would they manage it? Thankfully, they had and they did. We could all rejoice.
Yes, Motherwell had managed to win their first game of the new season.
After a bizarre couple of weeks, Motherwell proved that they might not be quite down and out. Yet.
What on earth has been going on, I hear you ask. Well, Motherwell has had a tough few months of it, being unable to win many games since the turn of the year.
If you know how the Scottish Premiership works, you will be aware that there are 12 teams in it and they play each other three times. At the end of those 33 games, the league splits in half so that the top six play each other once and the bottom group play each other once. Are you keeping up with this?
It all means that, rather than play 44 games per season, each team plays, a more manageable, 38 games. So far, so confusing.
The split means that those in the top half might still have a chance of qualifying for one the many European competitions that now take place. The bottom six? Sorry, no matter how many games a team might win after the 33 game break, they will not finish the season higher than seventh... even though the team above them in sixth place might have fewer points. Yes, it is a bit odd.
Any road up, Motherwell struggled to get into the top six and it was only by winning the 33rd game did they manage to stay in the top group; had they drawn or lost that game, they would have been in the bottom half.
The same thing happened after the break, they were losing every game as usual and only a win against Hearts secured them fifth place and therefore a chance to play in the Europa Conference league... or diddy cup as it is known in these parts.
No matter, European football is still something special and Motherwell were drawn against a small Irish club from Sligo called, appropriately enough, Sligo Rovers. Given that their ground's capacity is about a quarter that of Motherwell's Fir Park, it's fair to say that the Rovers were very much the underdogs. It looked like it would be an easy progression to the next stage of the tournament for the 'Well. What could possibly go wrong?
Everything, obviously. Sligo beat them one nil at Fir Park. Okay, things went a bit awry at home but surely Motherwell would annihilate Sligo in the return match. All they had to do was up their game a little and victory was assured.
Things didn't quite go to plan and Sligo thumped them two nil. Oh dearie me what a pity, were probably the words on the lips of all the Motherwell supporters. Well, something to that effect, anyway.
So that was Motherwell's European dream scuppered. But, obviously things have improved since then, I hear you say. Erm... not really.
One of the interesting things a footy fan indulges in at the start of any new season is to speculate which manager will be the first to receive his jotters. A few bad results at the start of a campaign can be enough to see the boss sent on his way pretty sharpish. Usually, after nine games or so, somebody will be emptying their desk.
I think Motherwell might be vying for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as being the first club in history to sack their manager before the season has even got started.
The day after that drubbing by Sligo, Motherwell's boss left the club 'by mutual consent'. Aye, sure.
So, Sunday's one nil victory against Paisley club St. Mirren was unexpected, to say the least.
Actually, I wasn't sure which team to support. Sorry pardon excuse me? You see, St. Mirren are managed by Motherwell's ex-manager, whose assistant is the same assistant he had at Motherwell. Not only that, but six of the players were ex-Motherwell guys.
So, as I write this, Motherwell are without a manager. One of the favourites to take on the job? The boss at a certain Paisley club.
Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we?
Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 30th of July? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.
Emily Bronte 1818 - Orfer. Wuthering Heights, that was one of hers. Not sure what wuthering is. Have you ever wuthered a height? I certainly haven’t.
Billy Meredith 1874 - Pêl-droediw.
Holmes Herbert 1882 - Jobbing actor. 234 credits on IMDb.
Charles Sargeant Jagger 1885 - Sculptor of many war memorials.
Henry Moore 1898 - Another sculptor... of big blobby things.
Stan Stennett 1925 - Musician and comedian.
Tony Hiller 1927 - Songwriter. Here’s one of his, Save Your Kisses For Me. What the hell is that set all about?
Alan Curtis 1930 - Jobbing actor. Detective Inspector Bob Gillingham in Compact.
Brian Clemens 1931 - Scriptwriter. He wrote many 1960s and 70s series such as, deep breath, Richard The Lionheart, The Invisible Man, Sir Francis Drake, Danger Man, The Avengers, The Baron, Adam Adamant Lives!, The Persuaders!, The Protectors, The New Avengers and The Professionals.
Terry O’Neill 1938 - Photographer whose images captured the 60s (it says here).
Clive Sinclair 1940 - Inventor and entrepreneur who foresaw the future of motoring as being electrically powered... 40 years before suitable technology became available. Who can forget the C5 pedal/electric car? I wish I could.
Colin Fulcher aka Barney Bubbles 1942 - Artist who designed the 70s (it says here).
Victor Henry 1943 - Actor. Freddie K in Privilege.
Frances de la Tour 1944 - Actress. Ruth Jones in Rising Damp.
Gerry Birrell 1944 - Racey motor guy.
Jeffrey Hammond(-Hammond) 1946 - Musician. He was once the bass player with, would you Adam and Eve it, one of my fave bands, Jethro Tull. Let’s have a clip [Any excuse. - Ed.]. Here’s a 1975 rendition of Minstrel in the Gallery. Jeff’s the Everton mint on the left.
John ‘Dixie’ Deans 1946 - Fitba guy. Ex-Motherwell, you know.
Allan Stewart 1950 - Comedian.
Harriet Harman 1950 - Politician.
Phil Davis 1953 - Actor. Jud Paynter in Poldark.
Ian Callum 1955 - Car designer.
Christopher Millar aka Rat Scabies 1955 - Drummer. Here’s a track that shows off his skills, Let There Be Rats.
Phil Fearon 1956 - Musician. Here he is with Galaxy, Dancing Tight. Not a good idea dancing when you're tight. You might fall over.
Liz Kershaw 1958 - Broadcaster.
Kate Bush 1958 - Musician. Here’s a beautiful song which she wrote when she was only 13, The Man with the Child in His Eyes.
Daley Thompson 1958 - Decathleticky bloke.
Andy Green 1962 - World land speed record holder. 763.035 mph in case you were wondering.
Anthony ‘Tex’ Doughty 1963 - Musician. Keyboardist for Transvision Vamp. Here they are with The Only One. Oddly, he’s the only one you don’t actually see in that video as he is sat way off to the left.
Sean Moore 1968 - A Manic Street Preacher. Have a clip, here’s Rosebud.
Sian Gibson 1976 - Comedienne and actress. Kayleigh Kitson in Car Share.
Justin Rose 1980 - Golfy bloke.
Alexander Vlahos 1988 - Actor. Charles Lockhart in Sanditon.
Hannah Cockroft 1992 - Wheelchair racery bloke.
Okay then, what about the 6th of August? Any famous folk born on that day? Of course there were...
Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 - Poet. He wrote that one about her that liked onions, The Lady of Shalott.
Alexander Fleming 1881 - Biologist who prompted this gag...
Q. What do you give the man who has everything?
Field Marshall William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim 1891 - The well-known sudjer.
Ballard Berkeley 1904 - Actor. The Major in Fawlty Towers.
Charles Crichton 1910 - Film director. Hue and Cry, The Lavender Hill Mob and A Fish Called Wanda were some of his successes.
Edward Jewesbury 1917 - Jobbing actor. Often played official types. Doctors, captains, majors, high-ranking policemen and a few legal types litter his 139 IMDb credits. In fact, he must have nailed the legal look, because he played Mr. Justice Bragge in 53 episodes of Crown Court.
Freddie Laker 1922 - Fly guy.
Jack Parnell 1923 - Musician and musical director. He conducted the orchestra in Sunday Night at the London Palladium for many years. Did you know he was the ‘real’ conductor of The Muppet Show orchestra? Thought not.
Frank Finlay 1926 - Actor. In a career of over 50 years he racked up 145 IMDb credits and uttered the funniest line I’ve ever heard (and I don’t care if you read it here in a blog from long, long ago), ‘Gentlemen, I have a long felt want.’ Brilliant.
Elisabeth Beresford 1926 - Children’s author and creator of the ultimate recyclers, The Wombles.
Vince Powell 1928 - TV scriptwriter. With comedy partner, Harry Driver, Powell wrote such gems as Pardon the Expression, George and the Dragon, Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width, Nearest and Dearest, For the Love of Ada and Bless This House. Sadly, they also gave us the woefully unfunny (and horribly racist) ‘comedies’ Love Thy Neighbour and Mind Your Language.
Chris Bonington 1934 - Mountaineer.
Barbara Windsor 1937 - Actress. Peggy Mitchell in Eastenders.
Mike Sarne 1940 - Actor and director. He also had a short pop career in the 1960s with a few novelty records. Come Outside reached number 1. This follow up, Will I What, which is basically a retread of Come Outside, only made number 18.
Bill Tancred 1942 - Discus chucker.
David McLetchie 1952 - Politician.
Reece Dinsdale 1959 - Actor. Matthew Willows in Home to Roost.
Kirsty Wade 1962 - Runny bloke.
Dean Andrews 1963 - Actor. Ray Carling in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.
Alan Cox 1970 - John Watson in Young Sherlock Holmes.
Geri Halliwell 1972 - A Spice Girl. Here’s the second of her four solo number ones Lift Me Up.
Donna Lewis 1973 - Singer. Here’s her hit, I Love You Always Forever. I love you always forever? Tautology, surely. She's Welsh; perhaps that's how they talk in Wales.
Francesca Martinez 1978 - Actress and comedienne.
Karl Davies 1982 - Actor. Daniel Cawood in Happy Valley.
Lloyd Langford 1983 - Comedian.
Michael Parr 1986 - Actor. Ross Barton in Emmerdale.
I’ve received a letter...
Dear Geri Grambliwell,
I have been a big fan of yours ever since you were in the Spice Girls, apart from the unfortunate staging for the Brit Awards in 2000, that is. That was an, ahem, unusual entrance. I have a question for you: what was your first solo single after leaving the Spice Girls?
How did The Grambler’s predictions fare last time? We won. Seriously. £4.04 back from our £2.20 outlay. Yay! A profit at last. What happened? Read on...
Mjällby AIF vs Degerfors IF - Home win
Result - Mjällby AIF 2 Degerfors IF 1
Helsingborgs IF vs GIF Sundsvall - Home win
Result - Helsingborgs IF 1 GIF Sundsvall 0
IFK Värnamo vs AIK - Away win
Result - IFK Värnamo 2 AIK 3
IFK Norrköping vs IFK Göteborg - Home win
Result - IFK Norrköping 0 IFK Göteborg 2
Varbergs BoIS vs Hammarby IF - Away win
Result - Varbergs BoIS 0 Hammarby IF 3
Well, this weekend sees the start of the Premier League season 2022-23, so we say farewell to the Scandinavians.
Loads of changes for the Premier League. Five subs from nine on the bench can be used instead of the previous three from seven. Ten match balls will be used... Hang on, that’ll make things a bit chaotic. Oh, I see, if the ball goes out of play there will be other balls around the ground that can be used to speed things up rather than waiting for the ball to be found underneath some fan’s seat. Although, I imagine whoever takes any resultant throw-in will still waste time while he decides who to chuck it to. Many players have changed clubs with a few familiar names no longer playing in the Premier League. It’s ta ta to names such as Lacazette [That’s an energy drink, isn’t it? - Ed.], Pogba, Lukaku, Mane, Rudiger, Christensen and Raphinha and hello to new boys Martinez, Koulibaly, Aguerd, Scamacca and Man City new boy from Norway, Haaland. [I thought we’d said goodbye to Scandinavians. Make your mind up. - Ed.]
Any road up, shall we see what five gems The Grambler has randomly selected for our first gramble of the new season? Yes, let’s.
Game - Result - Odds
Burnley vs Luton - Home win - 3/4
Preston vs Hull - Home win - 19/20
Sheffield Utd. vs Millwall - Home win - 5/6
Barnsley vs Cheltenham - Home win - 4/5
Portsmouth vs Lincoln - Home win - 3/4
The bets have been placed - Ten 20 pee doubles plus a single 20 pee accumulator. If the results go as predicted by The Grambler, the Bobby Moore Fund will be richer to the tune of a whopping
Not bad; I’ve seen whoppinger.
Yay! How did you get on with the five teasers set last time? Here are the answers.
1. Who am I?
I was born in 1980 in Terrassa, Spain. A midfielder, I played 505 games for the team I now manage. I was capped 133 times for my country. I am known by a shortened version of my first name.
Answer - Xavi
2. Which club is managed by Christophe Galtier?
Answer - Paris Saint-Germain
3. Which club’s stadium was briefly known as the Sports Direct Arena?
Answer - Newcastle United
4. Which player has won the most caps for the Republic of Ireland?
Answer - Robbie Keane
5. A daft one to finish, in the 2022-23 season, how many London derbies will take place?
Answer - As in the meaning of life, the universe and everything is 42. One for Douglas Adams fans there. There are seven teams from London - Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham and they play each other twice in a season. Actually, there will probably be more than 42, because clubs may drawn against each other in cup games.
Anyway, let’s get on with five for this week.
1. Who am I?
I was born in Corbridge, Northumberland in 1960. I played as a centre back for several clubs during a 20 year senior career, most notably a nine year spell at Manchester United where I made 309 appearances. Though I was captain for Man U., steering them to a league and cup double in 1993. I am now known for my managerial skills having managed 11 clubs since 1998.
2. Which side won the National League title this year to end an 11 year absence from the Football League?
3. Whose transfer to Rangers in 2000 is still a record paid by any Scottish club?
4. Which Dutchman managed Newcastle United in the 1998-99 season?
5. Who won a fifth consecutive Bundesliga top scorer award in 2021-22?
There you have it; five teasers to test you. As always, try and answer them before shouting out Hey Googly, Syria or Alexis. Please feel free to pass on the link to your pals so that they can enjoy The Grambler’s footy teasers too.
Remember the serious message...
As usual (at the risk of repeating myself), 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
Please, take a few minutes to watch an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s).
Click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26HWQXMalX4. The amount raised is a little out of date; it is now sitting at over £60,000.
And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am indebted to a Mr. B. Cribbins who provides us with this week’s finishing clip. I told you that last week’s (g)ramble was to have been in tribute to Bernard Cribbins who has fallen off his perch aged a mere 93.
I can actually remember when he was a pop star, of sorts. His speciality was the novelty song and he managed to get two top tenners, with Hole in the Ground and Right, Said Fred, plus a number 25 with Gossip Calypso.
He appeared in loads of films including Carry On Spying and The Railway Children and he even had his own comedy sketch show on TV.
Later on in his career he would appear in programmes such as Coronation Street and Dr Who, but I think he will be best remembered as Britain's favourite story teller. He made more appearances on the children's story-telling programme Jackanory than any other person. You thought Kenneth Williams with his 69 programmes was going some? Pah! Miles away from Bernard's total of 114... that's one one four... programmes.
Even in recent years the Beeb utilised his special story-telling skills in Old Jack's Boat where he played a salty old dog (i.e an old sailor) who told tall tales about his life on the ocean wave to his old dog who was called... can you guess?... that's right, Salty. He was already in his mid eighties when he began those programmes... Bernard Cribbins, not the dog.
The man was what might be termed a national treasure. He was a constant on our TV screens. You know I like to quote IMDb credits, don't you? Well he had 121 as an actor, plus 117 as himself on various TV programmes and that doesn't include any of those Jackanory appearances.
He was also the voice behind the original waste recyclers, The Wombles. It would be quite apt, since this would have been the birthday of Elizabeth Beresford, the creator of these cuddly eco-friendly types, to look at an episode. So here is the very first Wombles episode ever shown, Orinoco and the Big Black Umbrella. It ain’t Aardman quality animation, that’s for sure.
But wait, there’s more. I think it's only right that we should finish this week's (g)ramble with a particular clip. Right? [Said Fred? - Ed.]. Indeed.
That’s all for this week folks, but remember you can read the musings of The Grambler every week (well, most weeks) by going to the blog at www.thegrambler.com where you can also catch up on any previous editions you may have missed.