Saturday 6 January 2024

Post 496 - Happy New Gramble

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 (

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.

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


Story Time...

As we have come to the end of the 365 days known as 2023 and we look forward to the 366 days it has been decreed shall be known as 2024, it is natural to look back on that thing we call a year and consider some highs and lows, but mainly lows. Let’s face it, the past year has not been one of mankind’s best efforts what with wars taking place and refugees still risking their lives by trying to cross the English Channel on li-los.

I also note that nature is fighting back more than ever. 2023 ranks as having the highest global temperatures since records began, thanks to the stupidity of us humans. Greenhouse gas levels have also hit a record high, sea levels are at their highest and Antarctic sea ice is at a record low. I’m guessing that those last two go hand in hand. Well done, mankind.

So how is Mother Earth fighting back? By giving us wildfires, torrential rain, typhoons, hurricanes... I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A lot of world leaders headed to Dubai recently to discuss a way to eradicate some of the Earth’s troubles. You know the sort of thing - don’t use coal; don’t use oil; don’t use gas. All very laudable. However, many of these dignitaries arrived on private jet planes, thereby exacerbating the problem. It’s all talk. I hope they all celebrated their perspicacity (That’s a good word; wonder what it means.) at putting an end to global warming in a suitably ‘green’ way. [Perhaps by taking those same private planes to some exotic holiday resort because they need a well-earned rest after sorting out such matters? - Ed.]

Okay, cynicism aside, this week’s story time runs the risk of getting a bit despondent, but worse is to come. Sadly, in 2023 we lost many that we hold dear and I’m not just talking about people. I mean things. Well, things that I hold dear; maybe you don't. We have lost a certain fizzy soft drink. The one with the totally tropical taste. Yep, Lilt is no more. Another loss due to the world and his brother preferring the taste of a carbonated drink that was originally marketed as a patent medicine. You know the one. You do. The one with the name that, to me at least, stands for world domination. I don’t agree with the world and his brother; I think it tastes horrible.

Wait. There’s more. Oh yes. There has been, throughout my life, an alternative to a bar of chocolate which I have always absolutely loved... even after the sweet manufacturer with the cuddly name bought the company that produced it and messed about with the recipe. No, I'm not talking about Milky Bar, I'm talking about another product from the same company and that product is, or was, Caramac. Mmmm... Excuse me, I've just dribbled down my shirt.

Yes Caramac; it was first sold in 1959 and had the texture of chocolate, but the taste of caramel. What's not to like, as you like to say over in the good ol' US of A. Why the name Caramac, I hear you ask. Well, it was produced by the company that gave us the best caramel-based products ever produced (well, I thought so), Mackintosh's. So 'cara' from caramel and 'mac' from mackintosh's. See? Caramac. Educational, this is.

Any road up, Mackintosh's merged with Rowntree in 1969 to become Rowntree-Mackintosh (without the apostrophe s) and so began the sad decline of the utterly brilliant Caramac. Why? Because that was when the recipe started to get fu... mucked up. The original's smoothness seemed to go, to be replaced by something with a slightly gritty texture.

In 1987, more changes were afoot as Rowntree-Mackintosh was itself eaten up (geddit?) by that manufacturer with the cuddly name. The Caramac recipe seemed to get messed up yet again. Why does that always have to happen? Answers on a postcard, please.

Since that time, sales have declined and now the plug has been pulled completely.

Was the decline due solely to changes in the recipe putting people off? That may have had something to do with it, but I think the main reason for the poor sales is that there is a new kid on the block. [A Milky Bar kid! Ha! - Ed.] Don't be silly and, anyway, it's a caramel/chocolate bar I'm talking about. It is made by that competitor to cuddly brand, Badcury (itself a company that has been swallowed up by a big conglomerate).

And do you know what? It may be a little on the sickly side, but it's not too far removed from the original un-mucked-about-with Caramac. It's damn near perfect and, no, I don't receive any freebies for promoting this product.

Mind you, if anyone from Badcury is reading this, I would be more than happy to take a few bars off your hands if you are feeling generous... Oh dear I'm dribbling again. [I think you mean drivelling. - Ed.]




Birthday honours...

Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 30th of December? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.

Rudyard Kipling 1865 - Writer with unfeasably bushy eyebrows.

Why the bushy eyebrows? 
I save a fortune on paintbrushes.

Stephen Leacock 1869 - Writer and humourist.

Carol Reed 1906 - Film director. Oliver! was one of his. [His? With a name like Carol? What were his parents thinking of? - Ed.]

Ian MacNaughton 1925 - Producer and director. Monty Python’s Flying Circus was one of his.

Stan Tracey 1926 - Musician. Shall we have a bit of jehhhzzz? Why not. Here’s Starless and Bible Black. Nice.

Andy Stewart 1933 - Singer/songwriter. His biggest hit was Donald, Where’s yer Troosers, but you don’t want to hear that. Here he is explaining the story behind Campbelltown Loch I Wish You Were Whisky.

Frederick Pyne 1936 - Actor. Matt Skilbeck in Emmerdale Farm.

Gordon Banks 1937 - Footy bloke.

Glyn Dearman 1939 - Actor. Tiny Tim in Scrooge (1951).

Davy Jones 1945 - A right little Monkee. Have a clip. He was lead-vocalist on this, Daydream Believer.

Clive Bunker 1946 - Musician. Ex-Jethro Tull drummer. For once, I’m not giving you a Jethro Tull clip, but it is a Jethro Tull tune and there is the bonus of Clive giving it laldy on the drums. Here’s Jethro Tull tribute act Beggar's Farm featuring Tull originals Clive Bunker and Glen Cornick with Nothing is Easy.

David Bedford 1949 - Runny bloke.

Barbara Kellerman 1949 - Actress. The White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Dave Stewart 1950 - Keyboardist and composer. He has had a few hits with singer Barbara Gaskin, but here he is with Colin Blunstone on vocals giving us the old Jimmy Ruffin classic, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.

Nick Skelton 1957 - Horsey bloke... I mean he rides horses, he doesn’t look like a horse... I’ll get me coat.

Tracey Ullman 1959 - Actress, comedian, singer, writer, producer and director. In fact, a right old smarty boots. She had a few hit singles back in the day. Here’s the one that reached the heady heights of number 2 in the UK charts, They Don't Know.

Morris Gould aka Mixmaster Morris 1960 - Electronica DJ. Let’s chill out, shall we? Here’s Spiritual High.

Sophie Ward 1964 - Actress. Lady Ellen Hoxley in Land Girls. Simon’s lass.

Duglas T. Stewart 1964 - Frontman of BMX Bandits. A clip? But of course. Here’s some Serious Drugs.

Aamer Anwar 1967 - High-profile Scottish lawyer.

Jason Cheetham aka Jay Kay aka The Cat in the Hat 1969 - Frontman of Jamiroquai. I think a clip is in order. Let’s have this one from 2017, Automaton.  Best hat yet, Jay.

Phillips Idowu 1978 - Triple jumpy bloke.

Craig Powell 1984 - Musician. One time singer with Uniting Nations. Let’s have a clip. Here’s You and Me.

Faye Marsay 1986 - Actress. Annie Roberts in Ten Pound Poms.

Ellie Goulding 1986 - Singer/songwriter. A clip? Here’s a belated Christmas song River.

Kirsty Leigh-Porter 1988 - Actress. Leela in Hollyoaks.

Leon Jackson 1988 - Singer. He won the fourth series of The X Factor and followed it up with a number one record. Here’s When You Believe.

Joe Root 1990 - Crickety bloke.

Ryan Tunnicliffe 1992 - Footy bloke.

Ollie Watkins 1995 - Footy bloke.

Louis Greatorex 1996 - Actor. Lawrence in Last Tango in Halifax.

Now then, let’s move on to the 6th of January; I’m sure there were a few famous folk born on that day.

Thomas Dewar 1864 - Whisky distiller.

Cameron Hall 1897 - Jobbing actor. A regular, recognisable face on film and TV often playing unnamed characters. His final film role was ‘the admiral’ in Rotten to the Core. 158 credits on IMDb.

Francis L. Sullivan 1903 - Actor. Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist (1948).

Jean Sutherland 1907 - Artist and photographer.

Doris Stokes 1920 - Medium.

P. J. Kavanagh 1931 - Poet and actor. Father Seamus Fitzpatrick in Father Ted.

John Clive 1933 - Actor. Cyfartha in How Green Was My Valley.

Sylvia Syms 1934 - Actress. Delia Pinner in The Punch and Judy Man.

John Byrne 1940 - Playwright, screenwriter, artist and designer.

Terry Venables 1943 - Footy bloke,

Barry John 1945 - Chwaraewr rygbi.

Syd Barrett 1946 - Musician. Founding member of Pink Floyd. He stayed for less than three years; his departure more due to his mental health issues rather than a desire to leave the band. Here’s bit of psychedelia for you, Lucifer Sam.

Sandy Denny 1947 - Singer songwriter. Here’s a clip (with a little biography), Who Knows Where the Time Goes.

Willie Carr 1950 - Fitba guy.

Malcolm Young 1953 - Musician. Guitarist with AC/DC. A clip? Of course. Here’s Moneytalks. The words are there so you can sing along if you want [That’s more than the vocalist is doing... Call that singing! - Ed.]

Paul Mayhew-Archer 1953 - Writer, producer, script editor and sometime actor. He wrote My Hero and is the co-writer of The Vicar of Dibley.

Anthony Minghella 1954 - Film director, playwright and screenwriter.

John Sparkes 1954 - Comedian. He became famous as Siadwel on Naked Video, but is nowadays known for his voiceover work on many children’s TV shows... Did you realise he voices the farmer and Bitzer the dog on Shaun the Sheep? No? Well, he does.

Rowan Atkinson 1955 - Actor, comedian and writer.

Arthur Bostrom 1955 - Actor. Officer Crabtree in ’Allo ’Allo!

Angus Deayton 1956 - TV presenter, actor and writer.

Clive Woodward 1956 - Rugby bloke.

Justin Welby 1956 - Archbishop.

Nigella Lawson 1960 - Dinner lady.

Fergal Keane 1961 - Journalist.

James O’Toole 1964 - Musician. Founding member of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. A clip? Why not. Here are two, Wish (The Lads Were Here) + War.

Nathan Connolly 1981 - Musician. Guitarist with Snow Patrol. Have a clip. Here’s Just Say Yes.

Eddie Redmayne 1982 - Actor. He played Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Alex Turner 1986 - Musician. Frontman of Arctic Monkeys. Let’s have another clip. Here’s Body Paint.

Andy Carroll 1989 - Foo’y blurk.





I’ve received a letter...

Dear Alex Gramblner,

It was lovely to hear a fairly recent song from your band Arctic Monkeys. I wonder, do you have any songs in your repertoire that lend themselves to being confused with somebody’s name?

Nominally yours,

R. U. Mine.




Gramble time...

How did our last bet with Blorkdaes fare? We won... and lost. Again. £1.78 back from our £2.20 stake. 42 pees down. Oh dear. What happened? Read on.


Fulham vs Burnley - Home win

Result - Fulham 0 Burnley 2

Boo! But well done to Burnley on achieving a rare win.

Winger Wilson Odobert curled the ball home in style two minutes into the second half to put the Clarets ahead.

Sander Berge then arrowed in a second for Burnley with a low strike into the corner of the net.

Fulham were left to rue missed chances as Burnley goalkeeper James Trafford kept the home side at bay.


Tottenham vs Everton - Home win

Result - Spurs 2 Everton 1


Richarlison put the hosts ahead after just nine minutes, slotting in Brennan Johnson's low cross at the near post.

Son doubled Spurs' advantage soon after, with Johnson again providing a key supporting role. He picked the ball up from a short corner and fired in a powerful drive which Everton keeper Jordan Pickford palmed away.

It fell to Son, who slid the ball home with Pickford caught in a crowd of players and unable to intervene.

Everton showed plenty of attacking intent in an entertaining match and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored five minutes after half-time - only for the video assistant referee to disallow the goal following a foul by Andre Gomes on Emerson Royal in the build-up.

Gomes made some amends with a fine volleyed strike on 82 minutes to set up a grandstand finish, but Spurs held on.


Sunderland vs Coventry - Home win

Result - Sunderland 0 Coventry 3

Boo! In fact, blimey!

Abdoullah Ba should have put the home side in front, blazing over from close range after Brad Collins parried Jack Clarke's drive.

At the other end, Anthony Patterson produced a superb double block to foil Haji Wright and Callum O'Hare in quick succession - but the keeper was helpless to prevent the Sky Blues taking the lead just before the break.

Referee Matt Donohue allowed play to continue after Wright was brought down, with O'Hare galloping clear to send over a cross that Sunderland failed to clear and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto capitalised at the far post.

The home side started the second period strongly, with Jobe Bellingham and Jack Clarke both failing to make the most of opportunities and Trai Hume's attempt was charged down by Jamie Allen.

But Sunderland were hit on the counter-attack when O'Hare exchanged passes with Wright and curled a confident finish beyond Patterson to make it 2-0.

The contest was all but ended three minutes later as Kasey Palmer - who had only just come off the bench - wriggled free and the midfielder converted an easy tap-in after his initial attempt was spilled by Patterson.


QPR vs Southampton - Away win

Result - QPR 0 Southampton 1


QPR looked the more threatening of the sides during the opening 45 minutes, with Ilias Chair's bold attempt from the halfway line giving Saints goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu a scare before it sailed just over.

Chair did force Bazunu into a save later in the half, as well as setting up Andre Dozzell for a shot that was scrambled clear - but it was the visitors who opened the scoring just prior to the interval.

Ryan Manning came off the bench to deliver a free-kick into the box and Adam Armstrong glanced it towards the far post where Taylor Harwood-Bellis fired in his second goal of the season.

The home side responded well after the break, with Chris Willock unleashing a thumping drive to test Bazunu once again and Kenneth Paal's attempt whistling over the bar.

At the other end, Saints substitute Che Adams might have increased the visitors' advantage, but he was foiled by Asmir Begovic.

QPR's hopes were raised again two minutes from time when Shay Charles' foul on Albert Adomah earned him a second yellow card.

However, Saints' 10 men survived added time to wrap up the points.


Blackpool vs Bristol Rovers - Home win

Result - Blackpool 3 Bristol Rovers 1


First-half goals from Tangerines man Ollie Norburn and Rovers forward John Marquis saw the sides go in level at the break, before Blackpool strikers Jake Beesley and Jordan Rhodes struck in the second half.

The hosts drew first-blood thanks to a 30-yard screamer from Norburn that flew into the top corner after 21 minutes.

Rovers equalised shortly after courtesy of Marquis, who was alive inside the area to tap in from close range.

Karamoko Dembele struck a free-kick against the crossbar with Blackpool pushing hard to get back in front before half-time.

They did just that after the interval when Dembele set up Beesley in the first minute of the second half.

Luke Thomas had one ruled out for offside and Dan Grimshaw saved from Aaron Collins as Rovers went in search of an equaliser.

Beesley then made way for Kyle Joseph, who came on and grabbed an assist, setting up Rhodes to steer into the goal.


What has The Grambler come up with this to infuriate all you punters out there in Gramblerland?

Game - Result - Odds

Cheltenham vs Portsmouth - Away win - 3/4

Exeter vs Carlisle - Home win - 11/10

Barrow vs Tranmere - Home win - 17/20

Bradford vs Crawley - Home win - 7/10

Swindon vs Colchester - Home win - 11/10

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


More whopping than I feel comfortable with.




Teaser time...

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 Coventry, England in 1996. An attacking midfielder, I began my senior career at Coventry City before moving to Norwich City. I was signed out on loan to Coventry and Aberdeen before Leicester City bought me for around £20 million. I currently play for Tottenham Hotspur who bought me for about £40 million. I have been capped five times for England.

Answer - James Maddison

2. Philippe Clement has proven to be a steady manager at Rangers, but which team did he coach immediately before moving to Glasgow?

Answer - Monaco

3. Which club plays its home games at the Bet365 Stadium (formerly known as the Britannia Stadium)?

Answer - Stoke City

4. Scotland has qualified for Euro 2024; when was the team’s debut appearance in that tournament?

Answer - 1992

5. Anagram answers -

BEELMWY - Wembley

AFIKPRR - Fir Park

FHIILLR - Firhill

ADEFILN - Anfield

ADEHMNP - Hampden

EILMNOUX - Molineux

ADDEEELP - Deepdale

AACDEINNT - Tannadice

BIORX - Ibrox

ACEELNSTTY - Tynecastle

ACCEIKLPRT - Celtic Park

AADEEORRST - Easter Road

Okay, let’s have a few to tease you, this week...

1. Who am I?

I was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1998. A midfielder, I began my senior career at Vasco da Gama before signing for Manchester City on a five-year contract, but never played a game for them. I was loaned out to Girona supposedly for one season, but the loan spell was continued because the UK Home Office denied me a work permit. I signed to my current club Aston Villa in 2019 and finally received my work permit.

2. The UEFA European Championship began in 1960; which four nations took part?

3. Which recently retired football manager has coached the following clubs - Gainsburgh Trinity, Burton Albion, Scarborough, Notts County, Torquay United, Huddersfield Town (twice), Plymouth Argyle, Oldham Athletic, Bury, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace (twice), QPR (twice but caretaker manager on the second occasion), Leeds United, Rotherham United, Cardiff City and Middlesbrough?

4. Which club plays its home games at the New York Stadium?

5. Which club lost the FA Cup Final against Chelsea in both 2007 and 2018?

There you have it. Have fun trying to work that lot out. 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 (the already mentioned) Never Too Young | Bowel Cancer UK



Please, take a few minutes to watch an informative little video from Mersh (a great friend of Stewart’s).

Click on this link: The amount quoted is miles out of date. The total raised for the Bobby Moore Fund now stands at...





And Finally...

And finally, Cyril? And finally, Esther, I am grateful to a Mr. R. Atkinson, the well-known (seemingly) rubber-faced comedian who gave us the brilliant characters of Edmund Blackadder and Mr Bean and provides this week’s closing clip. There are so many clever comedic moments to consider, But I hope this will make you smile. Ladeez and genullum, please welcome the Reverend Atkinson.





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 where you can also catch up on any previous editions you may have missed.


Happy grambling.


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