2008 predictions

What won’t happen next year: January-March
The first part of a tongue-in-cheek look at what sports fans won’t witness in 2008
Harry PearsonDecember 27, 2007 12:00 AM

The government introduces its controversial “no smoke without fire” legislation. Under these new legal powers all ancient rights of “what me, guv?” are suspended and police are allowed to hold suspects for 48 years without charge, which allows them plenty of time to carry out a detailed and thorough investigation, and eat lots of doughnuts while watching Treasure Hunt with Anneka Rice on UK Gold.

The first to be arrested on suspicion of “being up to some monkey business, I’ll be bound” are ace jockey Kieren Fallon and Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp. City of London Police who carry out the raids - which involve more than 120 officers, six camera crews, 14 radio stations and a crack team of tabloid reporters - deny allegations that they have only picked these high-profile targets to get their names in the media.

“To level such a charge at the police is a gross insult to our judgment and integrity,” Detective Inspector Rick Arndsome says at a press conference, adding: “Snappers, could you try and get me in half-profile from the left, please. I’ve got a spot coming on my right cheek and it will look simply ghastly in photos.”

Asked how he sees the investigation progressing, Inspector Arndsome says: “We have hundred of hours of surveillance tapes, dozens of computer hard drives and an important meeting with Jude Law’s people to get through before we will be able to comment further. Sorry, that’s my mobile. I’ll have to take it. It’s Guy Ritchie.”

At the World Masters Championship squash in New Zealand organisers deny that their sport suffers from an image problem. “People keep saying squash is just too 1970s to take seriously,” says Abigail Crimpelene. “But I don’t think that is true and everybody I talked to at the pre-competition fondue party agreed with me.” The event itself is marred by an injury to the No1 seed Mateus Rose of Portugal, who crashes his Vauxhall Viva into a space hopper. “Apparently he was having trouble steering because earlier he’d hurt his wrist in a Clackers-related incident,” says a New Zealand police spokesman.


Fabio Capello has his first meeting with John Terry and the England squad. The initial reaction is positive: “His English is rudimentary, he doesn’t know many words, but he gets his point across forcibly.” And the Italian’s comments about the other players are equally complimentary. “I believe an international team needs a world-class spine,” Capello tells his new charges the day before the friendly with Switzerland. “But for the time being any sort of backbone will be a big improvement.”

In the Six Nations rugby there’s more controversy over the match balls, when it is revealed that before Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning penalty against France in Paris the ball that was thrown to him by a French ballboy was not a ball at all but a cantaloupe melon cunningly painted. “It could have been disastrous,” England coach Brian Ashton explains. “But Jonny quickly realised what was going on, partly because of the weight but mainly because, in a typical French flourish, the ballboy insisted on presenting it to him accompanied with a few slices of Bayonne ham and a glass of Pineau des Charentes.”

France’s home matches, meanwhile, are marred for TV viewers by cameramen at Stade de France who keep swinging around wildly in the hope of finding Sébastien Chabal looking “sweaty and magnificent”. “They spent so much time during the World Cup concentrating on giving us close-ups of the gigantic second-row’s smouldering good looks and animal presence that many of them were actually unaware that a rugby tournament was going on. Unfortunately the trend has continued during the Six Nations,” explains a spokesman for TF1, adding: “Still, he is gorgeous, though, isn’t he? Coo-er.”


On the eve of the first formula one race of the season, the Australian grand prix, pouting Spanish lovely Fernando Alonso renews his feud with McLaren by accusing his former boss Ron Dennis of showing favouritism towards his rival Lewis Hamilton before last year’s big race in Brazil. Dennis denies the allegation, saying it is ridiculous. “Look, the free Ratatouille collectible 3D picture card just happened to fall out of the Rice Krispies packet and into Lewis’s bowl,” he tells reporters. Alonso counters by claiming it was “my turn to get the first serving from that box, and he knows it”, adding that Hamilton had also been allowed “to take both packets of Coco Clusters from the variety pack during practice and only leaving the boring stuff like cornflakes for me”.

However, the Spaniard categorically denies that the whole row between himself and McLaren is all a bit silly and infantile, saying: “It is not. It is not. It is not times infinity with brass knobs on, so there.” Hamilton, meanwhile, keeps his own council - Hertfordshire. And with the money he’s on he can afford to.
Tomorrow: April-June

What won’t happen next year: April-June
A tongue-in-cheek look at the upcoming sporting year continues with April through to June

Harry PearsonDecember 28, 2007 1:46 AM


Fabio Capello announces that he has finally found a solution to the Steven Gerrard/Frank Lampard conundrum - the Chelsea player will be cryogenically frozen and brought back to life at some point in the future when English football is suffering a dearth of attacking midfielders. “This is the sort of long-term planning English football has needed for a long time,” says Brian Barwick combing his moustache into a raffish curve in celebration. “In fact, it’s the first time we have done anything like it since Sir Alf Ramsey froze Rodney Marsh’s world view back in 1974”.

At the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Clermont-Ferrand fears that female gymnasts are getting too small for safety are brutally confirmed when one competitor is blown through the roof of the changing rooms by a hairdryer and another is trapped under a Styrofoam cup dropped by a spectator. A spokesman, however, denies that the diminutive stature of the competitors is a problem. “The girls have always been tiny that is trad … Oh shit, I think I may have just stepped on the bronze medallist.”

The formula one spying scandal refuses to go away as it is revealed that last year Ferrari managed to obtain secret plans from McLaren that came originally from Renault, who had obtained them illicitly from BMW-Sauber, who had bought them illegally from Honda, who had got their hands on them after paying off a designer at Ferrari. “This is an absolute disgrace,” says Ferrari chief, Stefano Domenicali. “We have spent thousands of pounds just to find out what we already knew - all the cars are far too bloody fiddly and offer very poor mileage”


At the Fifa Congress in Sydney Sepp Blatter loosens his girdle and strongly denies that the organisation is selling the soul of the game. “It is insulting even to suggest such a thing,” he tells reporters. “Nothing matters more to us at the Mastercard House of Fifa than the good name of Flame-grilled Whopperball™, the official health givin’, finger-lickin’ soccer game (“The secret’s in the spicy crumb-coating!”) of the 2012 Budweiser/Nestle World Starbucks Coffee Cup (in association with Citibank).”

Celebrated Mancunian hoaxer Karl Power is back! He dons gloves, trunks and a silk dressing gown and jumps into the ring at the G-Mex Centre where Ricky Hatton is making his long awaited return to boxing. “This was Karl’s best ever,” says his friend Kevin Mate. “He totally fooled everybody. He even got to fight the light-welterweight champion of the world! Me and Ricky have been chuckling about it ever since, and I know Karl will be too the minute he comes out of the operating theatre.”


At the IAAF Golden League meeting in Berlin Britain’s Allison Curbishley establishes a new world record by saying “PB” “champs” and “focused” 438 times in a single hour on Radio Five Live. The tally is just 12 short of Steve Backley’s men’s record. “This just shows that when it comes to babbling away enthusiastically the girls are definitely catching up with the guys,” says a delighted Curbishley. “I really do believe that in a few years time we’ll see someone like Sally Gunnell competing on equal terms with Roger Black and Colin Jackson.”:slight_smile:

“When I look at the teams that are here, I just think that if England had made it through qualifying they’d have had a really, really fantastic chance of winning it. And that is just so frustrating,” Lee Dixon tells BBC viewers at the start of the European Championship finals. Alan Shearer agrees wholeheartedly that were it not for England’s inability to score more goals than their opponents they would undoubtedly be “among the favourites out here in Austria/Switzerland”. It is a view that is backed up by Alan Hansen who names 78 world-class England players who would “walk into any starting XI out here and improve it by 110% at least especially when it came to Nintendo and wearing flip flops”.

Soon the entire nation is en fête as the pundits talk our boys to comprehensive wins over Germany (“showed nothing to worry JT”), Holland (“wouldn’t give Signor Capello any nightmares”) and Italy (“hardly likely to look so comfortable defensively against a fit Michael Owen”) to reach the final, where they at last gain revenge on Big Phil Scolari by winning a totally imaginary game against his Portugal team by seven goals to one thanks to a storming display of delusional patriotic fervour from Ian Wright. In the real tournament, meanwhile, Uefa’s chief Michel Platini puts on a brave face as he watches Holland beat Italy 5-4 in the final of a competition that has featured scintillating attacking football, goals galore and absolutely no scenes of fat, tattooed shirtless men throwing wire chairs at riot police whatsoever, but everyone can see inside he is crying. Tomorrow: July-September