Saturday 23 March 2024

Post 502 - An ultra casual 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

This is a football blog. [Really? You could have fooled me. - Ed.] Okay, so I don't always talk football, but this week, I am going to.

Do you remember football casuals? It was a name given to any group of smartly dressed young, male, footy fans whose sole purpose in life seemed to be to use supporting a football team as an excuse for having battles with those fans of the opposition who were similarly attired.

The term was not used until the 1980s when violence perpetrated by these gangs of individuals was causing mayhem at all the major league teams' grounds.

While such support has never really gone away, there seems to be a new phenomenon among young footy fans.

Rather than wearing the latest trainers/hoodie/designer tee shirt, they are now all dressed in black garb.  And, instead of being called casuals, they are dubbed 'ultras'... as in ultra violent, perhaps.

I have noticed this even in the quiet backwater stadium known as Fir Park, the home of the Mighty 'Well.  There they stand, in the noisy section of the crowd baiting the opposition fans. Every one of them not sporting the club colours but dressed head to toe in black. Okay, so far, so menacing, but there is a but. It is this: the opposing supporters who are similarly baiting the Motherwell fans are also dressed in black. [And your point is, caller? - Ed.] My point is this... No, I'll come back to that.

Wearing black gear is, in its way, given the intent of these fans (Short for fanatics and these guys are fanatical; just more about injuring someone than supporting a team.), quite a sensible thing to do. Why? Because, if there is trouble and police make arrests it will not be possible to ascertain which team they 'support'. Both factions are dressed the same. Smart, eh?

No, not smart and this is where the 'but' comes in. If they dress in this manner to fool the police, are they not also going to be fooling themselves? Sorry pardon excuse me what? Yes, think about it, if the police can't differentiate between who supports which team, can these fanatics intent on causing trouble differentiate who supports which team? In the heat of battle, might they not just start lashing out at anyone, friend or foe? Hmm? Discuss.

I also don't wear team colours. That's not because I am there to cause trouble; it's because Motherwell don't yet make a range of thick, insulated coats or padded, thermal trousers in the team colours. They're missing a trick there; maybe, they should start... Dear Mr/Mrs bloke in charge of Motherwell.




Birthday honours...

Let’s move on to the birthday honours, shall we? Were any famous or not so well-known individuals born on the 23rd of March? Of course there were. Here are some that even I have heard of.

Josef Locke 1917 - Singer. I wonder if I can find a clip... Ah, here’s his most famous piece, Hear My Song.

Jimmy Edwards 1920 - Comedian.


Jimmy Edwards not looking at all glum (An old Take It From Here reference there for any octogenarians who read this.)

Donald Campbell 1921 - Speed demon.

Geoffrey Chater 1921 - Jobbing actor. Algernon Wyse in Mapp & Lucia. 164 credits on IMDb. He died in 2021 aged 100.

Roddy McMillan 1923 - Actor and playwright. Para Handy in The Vital Spark.

Alan Browning 1926 - Actor. Alan Howard in Coronation Street where his character married Elsie Tanner, played by Pat Phoenix. They also married in real life.

Alf Morris 1928 - Politician.

Geoffrey Smith 1928 - TV gardener.

Roger Bannister 1929 - Physician, neurologist and athlete. Famously, ran the first sub-four minute mile.

Bettine Le Beau 1932 - Model, actress, broadcaster, cabaret artiste, lecturer, portrait painter, sculptor and graphologist... in fact, a right old smarty boots.

Barry Cryer 1935 - Comedian and scriptwriter.

Bertie Auld 1938 - Fitba guy.

Alan Blaikley 1940 - Songwriter. He wrote a few big hits. This one from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich reached number one. Here’s The Legend of Xanadu. There you are, an early (and quite dreadful) promotional video.

Michael Nyman 1944 - Composer of ‘minimalist’ music. Here is an example, Time Lapse.

Tony McPhee 1944 - Musician and Groundhog. Would you like a clip? Of course you would. Here’s a clip from The Old Grey Whistle Test back in 1976, Old Grey Whistle Test TV prog, Groundhogs, 1976 - YouTube

Linal Haft 1945 - Jobbing actor. Monty Fish in Shine On Harvey Moon.

Alan Bleasdale 1946 - Screenwriter. The Black Stuff and its follow-up, Boys from the Black Stuff were creations of his.

Phil Lanzon 1950 - Musician. Keyboardist with Uriah Heep since 1986. A clip? Why not. Here’s Grazed By Heaven.  Let’s RAWWWK!

Bobby Crush 1954 - Ivory tickler. Let’s have a little clip. Here’s Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer.

Andrew Mitchell 1956 - Politician, not a pleb.

Steve Redgrave 1962 - Boat rowy bloke.

Andrew O’Connor 1963 - Actor, comedian, magician, TV presenter and executive producer [He produces executives? He’s a better magician than I thought. - Ed.]

Marti Pellow 1965 - Singer. One-time frontman of Wet Wet Wet. Have a clip clip clip. Here’s the band’s last top ten hit, Weightless.

Damon Albarn 1968 - Musician. A bit of Blur and a Gorilla. Let’s have a clip. Here’s Gorillaz with Baby Queen.

Abigail Cruttenden 1968 - Actress. Anna in Not Going Out.

Michael Atherton 1968 - Crickety bloke.

Richard Cadell 1969 - Entertainer. Currently, Sooty’s right-hand man.

Gail Porter 1971 - TV presenter.

Joe Calzaghe 1972 - Boxy bloke.

Dougie Lampkin 1976 - Motorbike racery bloke.

Chris Hoy 1976 - Pushbike racery bloke.

Joanna Page 1977 - Actress. Stacey West/Shipman in Gavin & Stacey.

Russell Howard 1980 - Comedian.

Jason Kenny 1988 - Another pushbike racery bloke.

Jessica Baglow 1989 - Actress. Rachel Hemingway in Gentleman Jack.

Princess Eugenie of York 1990 - A royal personage. Apparently, she is 11 in line to the throne so, if ten senior royals die suddenly, she would automatically become the police’s number one suspect.






I’ve received a letter...

Dear Gramblon Albarn,

I was disappointed that it was a Gorillaz track that was used as a reminder of your work; I always considered your work with Blur to be of a higher quality. After all, you did have two number one singles with them. One was called Country House... I can’t remember the name of the other. Can you help?

Yours expectantly,

B. Tull-Bumm.



Gramble time...

How did our last bet with Kordables fare? We won... Yep, for the second week on the trot, The Grambler gave us a profit. How much? The grand sum of £3.96 back from our £2.20 stake. Unfortunately, for you good folk out in Gramblerland, the blog wasn’t published until late on Saturday. Blame a computer operator failure. What happened? [You thought you’d pressed the ‘publish’ button and you hadn’t. - Ed.] No, I meant with the predictions. Read on.

Barnsley vs Cheltenham - Home win

Result - Barnsley 0 Cheltenham 0

Ooh! ’It the woodwork!

Jon Russell thought he had put the hosts ahead after four minutes when he turned home Luca Connell's free-kick, but the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside.

The Tykes countered dangerously in the 31st minute as Adam Phillips slotted through to Sam Cosgrove, but his low effort from the edge of the box was always curling wide.

Cheltenham almost took the lead against the run of play in the 34th minute when Tom Pett curled one towards the bottom right corner from the edge of the box and prompted a smart save from Liam Roberts.

Russell should have broken the deadlock four minutes after the break when he was found at the back post by Cosgrove but dinked his close-range effort over the crossbar.

Barnsley substitute (ex-Motherwell man) Devante Cole had an opportunity to make it 1-0 with eight minutes to play when a smart cross from Phillips gave the forward a free header inside the box, but he nodded wide.


Reading vs Cambridge - Home win

Result - Reading 4 Cambridge 0


In a scrappy first half, Reading opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from striker Sam Smith and winger Femi Azeez.

Well-struck second-half efforts from Lewis Wing and Kelvin ‘The Commentator’s nightmare’ Ehibhatiomhan secured the comprehensive victory.

United defender Michael Morrison found space and nodded narrowly wide early on from a Liam Bennett cross.

But Royals went ahead when Cambridge's James Gibbons made a hash of an intended clearance from a Harvey Knibbs cross and Smith pounced.

Reading increased their advantage in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when Azeez ran through unchallenged on a quick break and beat keeper Jack Stevens with a fierce near-post shot.

Cambridge could have halved the gap soon after the interval, with home keeper Joel Pereira making a superb double save to deny Elias Kachunga from close range.

Pereira's heroics proved crucial, with Wing effectively making the game safe for Royals when firing over United's substitute keeper Will Mannion in the 62nd minute.

Ehibhatiomhan struck with five minutes left, lashing past Mannion from the edge of the area.


Shrewsbury vs Carlisle - Home win

Result - Shrewsbury 1 Carlisle 0


Daniel Udoh's first-half goal secured Shrewsbury the win.

After a quiet opening 40 minutes, Shrewsbury broke the deadlock just before the interval through Udoh.

After receiving a ball into the box, he did well to hold off a defender before spinning and firing past Harry Lewis at his near post.

Shrewsbury nearly doubled their lead three minutes later when Carl Winchester struck from inside the box, but Lewis tipped the ball out for a corner.

Carlisle came close to an equaliser through Dan Butterworth just before the hour.

He won the ball high up the pitch before dancing around the Shrewsbury defence and attempting a shot from close range, but goalkeeper Marko Marosi did well to save and clear the danger.

Butterworth went close again soon after from a free-kick on the edge of the box, but his effort whistled past the post.

That was as close as the visitors would come and Udoh almost snatched a second late on with an effort from the edge of the box which flew over the bar.


Wycombe vs Northampton - Home win

Result - Wycombe 2 Northampton 0


Matt Butcher bagged a brace as Wycombe won with a 2-0 victory over Northampton.

Home goalkeeper Franco Ravizzoli was the first to be tested as he kept out Tony Springett's effort low to his left.

Louie Moulden denied Freddie Potts a goal to savour from 25 yards after Gideon Kodua headed the ball into his path.

After the break, Dale Taylor was denied by the visiting keeper.

But the deadlock was broken in the 69th minute as Kieran Sadlier took a quick throw to Butcher, who drove into the box and fired into the far corner.

Down the other end, Ravizzoli kept out Kieron Bowie one-on-one.

Butcher's second was even better as he curled home a fine strike, after being found by Sadlier again, with five minutes to go.


Lincoln vs Bristol - Home win

Result - Lincoln 5 Bristol 0


Imps captain Paudie O'Connor scored his first goal since August and Joe Taylor made his maiden professional hat-trick.

Anthony Evans missed a penalty on an afternoon to forget for Rovers and Reeco Hackett rounded off the scoring.

The game was effectively over as a contest as the hosts raced 3-0 up inside the first 23 minutes.

Defender O'Connor rose highest to head home Danny Mandroiu's delightful corner and Taylor scored his first when he nodded home Lasse Sorensen's cross in the 19th minute.

He doubled his tally four minutes later as he coolly slotted home Lincoln's third.

Down the other end Lukas Jensen, who earlier denied Chris Martin at 1-0, produced a good save to keep out Jevani Brown with his legs.

Taylor made it 20 for the season with a dink before Evans fired his penalty wide of the mark.

Ethan Erhahon saw red for a second booking but Hackett added gloss late on.


So close and yet... not close enough. Come on Grambler, we’ve not had a full house of wins for months. What has he/she/it randomly selected for this week?

Game - Result - Odds

Carlisle vs Stevenage - Away win - 3/4

Northampton vs Derby - Away win - 8/13

Grimsby vs Wrexham - Away win - 17/20

Harrogate vs Bradford - Away win - 19/20

Cove vs Hamilton - Away win - 3/4

Uh oh, The Grambler’s done that all away wins thing again. It usually ends in tears. Anyway, 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


As whoppingness goes, that is poor. [Yes, you won’t win £9.90 instead of not winning over ten quid. Ha! - Ed.]




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 Bradford in 1991. A right-back, I began my senior career at Newcastle in 2009. Though I spent five years at the club, I played only eight games for them and was loaned out to six other clubs during that time. I then signed with Wigan playing only 13 games in my time there. Again, I was loaned out to another club. In 2015, I moved northwards to join my current club. I was appointed captain in 2018 and have now played over 300 games for them.

Answer - James Tavernier

2. Who was the first non-English manager to win the English Football League Cup?

Answer - Willie Reid. A Scot, he coached cup winners Norwich in 1962.

3. Which English Championship side has drawn the most games in the current season?

Answer - Huddersfield Town (currently 15 out of 38 played)

4. Who is Fulham’s current club captain?

Answer - Tom Cairney

5. Which club plays its home games at Ainslie Park?

Answer - Spartans

How about five more to test your knowledge of the beautiful game? Yes? Right, here goes...

1. Who am I?

I was born in The Hague in 1995. I play as centre-back or left-back and began my senior career at Chelsea. During my time with them I was loaned out to three clubs: Reading, Watford and Bournemouth. I was transferred to Bournemouth for a fee of £20 million and I was transferred to my current club, Manchester City, for a fee of £41 million. I have been capped for my country 42 times (and counting)

2. Who took over from Harry Maguire as Manchester United’s captain?

3. I’ve asked in the past which has the lowest capacity ground (AFC Bournemouth - 11,307), but which Premier League team’s ground has the second lowest capacity?

4. Which English League One side has drawn the most matches this season?

5. Which club plays its home games at the Toughsheet Community Stadium?

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 indebted to a Mr. B. Cryer a famous writer and teller of jokes whose birthday fell on this date. I thought you might appreciate some of Barry's favourite funnies...

'Quick' – the noise made by a dyslexic duck.

I’m 59 and people call me middle-aged. How many 118-year-old men do you know?

I met my wife and Ronnie Corbett on the same day. I tossed a coin… and married her.

Picasso was burgled and did a drawing of the robbers.  Police arrested a horse and two sardines.

Analysing comedy is like dissecting a frog. Nobody laughs and the frog dies.

A woman sees a parrot for sale at only £5.

“Well, I must confess, it was brought up in a brothel,” says the shopkeeper. “And, to put it politely, it has quite an extensive vocabulary.”

“Never mind,” says the woman. “At that price, I’ll take it.”

So she takes the parrot home, puts its cage in the living room and takes the cover off.

“New place – very nice,” says the parrot.

Then the woman’s two daughters walk in.

“New place, new girls – very nice,” says the parrot.

Then the woman’s husband walks in, and the parrot says, “Oh hello, Keith!”

Hashtag, party game where you chase each other for drugs.

You know about the guy who shot a golden eagle. He was in court in front of a magistrate.

The magistrate said: “This is a dreadful thing”.

He said: “I never intended to. I was shooting pheasants and it flew into my line of fire.”

The magistrate said, “Okay. Out of interest, what did you do with it?”

He said: “I ate it.”

The magistrate said: “Good god, what did it taste like?”

He replied: “Rather like swan.”

There's an old man walking along the street at two in the morning.

He's stumbling a bit and holding a glass. So the police stop him and ask him where he's going.

“To a lecture.”

“At two in the morning?” asks the policeman. “What's the lecture on?”

“Smoking and drinking,” the old man says.

“Who's giving it?”

“My wife.”

“A man has just bought his wife a silver wedding present.

A friend in the pub asks him what it is.

“It's a really beautiful table,” says the man. “I hope she likes it – even if she doesn't play snooker.”

A man owns a parrot that can't stop swearing.

So he says to him, “If you don't stop swearing, I'll put you in the fridge.”

The parrot keeps on swearing. So he puts it in the fridge.

Five minutes later, he takes the parrot out of the fridge, and says to it, “Are you going to stop swearing?”

“Yes,” says the parrot. “But what did that chicken do?”

A young vicar is giving his first sermon and nervously consults an older priest for advice.

“Well,” the older priest says. “First, be yourself. Second, you know that glass of water I sip from during my sermons? Well, it's not water. It's gin. Get yourself a tumbler of straight gin to calm your nerves while you're talking.”

So the young vicar does his sermon, quaffing from this huge tumbler the whole time he's speaking. Afterwards, he asks the older priest what he thought.

“You had a natural authority and you held the congregation's attention,” said the older priest. “Just three things.

“Don’t tear up your notes and throw them at the congregation when you've finished.

“Walk down the stairs from the pulpit; don't slide down the banister.

“David slew Goliath. He didn't “knock seven bells out of him”.

“Oh, and his sling was full of shot.”

Donald Trump was in Japan.

Someone mentioned Pearl Harbour. He denied ever meeting her...

I hate people who talk about themselves.

I met a woman at a party last week who couldn't stop talking about herself.

“My hair's on fire! My hair's on fire!” she kept on saying.

And finally, something a bit more surreal...

A man walks into a pub and the landlord's astonished. Half of the man's head is half of a huge orange.

“So sorry to be nosy,” the landlord says, “but why is half of your head half of a huge orange?”

“Well, I was cleaning up the loft,” the man says. “And I found an old lamp. I polished it up, and a genie came swooping out of it, saying, “May I grant you any three wishes, master?”

“So I said, “I'd like to have a million pounds – and every time I take the million pounds out of my pocket, another million appears there.”

The genie said, “Your wish is granted. And your second wish?”

The man says, 'I'd like a big house with 100 beautiful ladies in it.'

“Your wish is granted,” says the genie. “And your third wish?”

“I'd like half my head to be half of a huge orange.”



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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