BAD NEWS FOR LITTLE BIG DUNCS
Of all the European countries in Europe you might have expected to emulate the USA’s restrictions on children sticking the nut on footballs, the home of both the Glasgow Kiss and Trainspotting’s Begbie would almost certainly have been nowhere near the top of the list. However, in a turn of events that may turn some Proper Football Men apoplectic with rage about nanny state-ism and elf’n’safety gone mad, moves are afoot in Scotland to ban children under the age of 12 from heading the ball, a proposal that could be introduced within weeks.
On the back of research conducted by the University of Glasgow which found professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to suffer from dementia and other serious neurological diseases, the Scottish Fitba Association has decided to “lead the way” on an issue that has long been highlighted by Dawn Astle, among others, including the outspoken footballer-turned-pundit Chris Sutton.
Astle, the daughter of the former West Brom striker Jeff, who died in 2002 of what a coroner described as an “industrial disease” – partly caused by repeatedly heading heavy footballs – has welcomed the initiative and urged other football associations to follow suit. “I hope that children in other countries – English, Welsh, whatever – mean as much to our specific FAs as clearly Scottish children do to theirs,” she said.
Largely of a mind with Astle that this SFA wheeze is A Good Thing, Big Paper has since invited readers to share their experiences – if they have any – of heading footballs. Fiver subscribers with fond childhood recollections of clenching their fists, shutting their eyes tightly and bracing themselves as an over-pumped Adidas Tango dropped out of the heavens, bounced violently off the crown of their skull and left them close to tears, experiencing blurred vision and feelings of extreme nausea, are invited to submit them here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There was a time when I was a player at other clubs, and when I was a manager at other clubs, that I would rush back to Sheffield to go and watch United, or away from home. I think it’s refreshing that he wants to go and watch games of football. We just had a word with him on the other bit” – Chris Wilder, man of the people, responds to Oli McBurnie being given a ticking off for “making an obscene gesture” [Monday’s Fiver] during Swansea’s derby with Cardiff.
Football Weekly Extraaaaaaaaaaaa is ready for your ears.
“Re Fiver Letter Lookalikes, I think it was very generous of Jack Grealish to lend his hairpiece to Al Pacino for his portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman” – Steve Wilson.
“Never mind poor old Peter Shilton’s sour grapes (Wednesday’s QOTD); the champagne bon mot from that England v Argentina quarter-final came from midfielder Héctor Enrique about Maradona’s second goal. Enrique commented on the ball he tapped about 5 feet to Maradona, who was surrounded by 2 white shirts inside his own half, before the number 10 beat half the English team and glided past Shilton: “With a pass like that, he could hardly miss, could he?”” – Justin Kavanagh.
“The mild-mannered gent pictured in this truly heartwarming and reassuring story is, to give him his full name, John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood, who normally dresses for football matches like this” – Tony Crawford.
“The prospect of Gremio’s Everton moving to Everton got me thinking about nominative determinism in football. Doubtless Fiver readers will be quick to put me straight (yep – the gauntlet is down), but apart from Arsène at Arsenal and Kepa the keeper, not many examples spring to mind. However there are numerous instances of missed opportunities – Immobile has scored enough goals in Serie A to suggest that he doesn’t lack movement, Solskjær never signed for the Gunners, Success hasn’t found the back of the net very often at Watford, Alan Sunderland didn’t move to Tyne and Wear, and John Terry has never played for Firewall FC” – Nick Payne.
BITS AND BOBS
Marcus Rashford could be out of Sunday’s match with Liverpool after suffering back-gah! during Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolves in the FA Cup. “That backfired,” sobbed Ole Gunnar Solskjær of his substitution. “We’ll do everything to get him fit.”
Antonio Conte has cunningly deduced that the difference between his Inter side and league leaders Juventus is none other than Olivier Giroud, who is poised to join the Nerazzurri from Chelsea.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, who are sponsored by Visit Rwanda, would like to take his players to the UAE for some warm-weather training, but must wait for a security report to give the OK.
After last year’s June-July hiatus, the Africa Cup of Nations is back to being a European-bothering January-February affair. Jürgen, best get your statement prepared now, lad.
After the roaring success of last summer’s 1,056 signings, Aston Villa are going back into the market; they plan to buy Mbwana Samatta, the captain of Genk and Tanzania, for £8.5m.
On the face of it, football is doing well – people are watching it on telly and in the ground. But then you read this, and have to go and lie down.
STILL WANT MORE?
JS Saint-Pierroise are the first club from a French overseas territory to reach the last 32 of the Coupe de France in 31 years. Paul Doyle has the feelgood skinny.
It’s David Squires on Melbourne Victory, along with some other A-League references you almost definitely don’t understand.
Proper Journalist Hannah Devlin, Big Paper’s science correspondent, asks: can heading a football lead to dementia?
Charlton are back, baby, and this heartening film from Tom Brandhorst will tell you how.
Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr flourished at the same Dakar academy as Sadio Mané and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his Senegal “brother”. Ed Aarons has more.
Is Kai Havertz going to make Liverpool’s club transfer record go again? This and tales from The Great North London Defender Hunt in today’s Rumour Mill.
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