OTBC: An open letter to all who despise sport and most especially football

Rugby. Never quite got into the northern code, although Colin Welland once kindly took me to a match. But Rugby Union can cause a spectator to stand and rip his vocal cords to shreds like no other game. Its peaks of excitement are higher and more intense than you will find in any other. The offsides, infringements, rulings and strategies are all but incomprehensible, but the blend of brute force, balance, speed, wit and stamina that the game demands cannot be matched in any other than I know.

Cricket. The greatest love of all. With love so great one is robbed of speech. That cricket is manifestly the greatest game that humankind ever devised is, for those who understand the game, too obvious to mention but we are all too wearily used to others dismissing it as boring, incomprehensible – elitist even. Nothing worth the pursuit was ever easy or obvious. But all this is bringing me on to …

Football. Our national game. The beautiful game. And so on. There’s so much wrong with it. The corporations and holding companies who own the clubs. Their obsession with European silverware. The stinkingly vast sums paid out by broadcasters. The vast gap between the oligarchic haves and the deprived have-nots. I cannot imagine how distressing it must be if you are a Manchester United or Arsenal fan – the need to win, the expectation, the disappointment, the humiliation if you do not.

If you have always found yourself immune to the national obsession with Association Football, I can quite understand it. But all I would say is that, for all that is wrong with it, there can be no keener pleasure than belonging, adhering, following and obsessing with one club: scrabbling for the latest news, checking with terror the tables to see how far they are from relegation and despair. The club can be Chelsea if you have reason for it to be. It can also be Gillingham or Port Vale, York City or Newcastle. If you already have a club that you support, then you don’t need read any further. But let’s suppose that you don’t support any club, or that you have one great allegiance and are interested in the possibility of having a deuxième cru, a second house. Well, if you have a spare sense of loyalty going, an impulse to follow without a special connection, then let me suggest that you find a delightful underdog to cheer on…

Let me, in short, argue that you simply could not choose a more loveable and worthy club than Norwich City. They represent a whole region, one great medieval city lost in the rural vastness of Norfolk. Once among the two or three greatest towns of England, Norwich has almost comically lost itself in provincial isolation while the industrial cities of the North and MIdlands, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Stoke and Wolverhampton, and the powerful metropolitan districts, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Queen’s Park and Fulham have overtaken the game with their colossal financial and media reach.

Norwich is a pigmy compared to these enormous, illustrious and opulent institutions. That is what makes being a fan such a pleasure. We don’t expect to win every match – when we do we jump up and down with joy and when we lose we smile ruefully as we expected nothing more.

The Canaries have had their moments of glory, what we would call glory at least, but it is a long time since 1992-93, the premiership’s inaugural season for the majority of which City led the table and achieved that unbelievable 1993 victory over Bayern Munich (“this is fantasy football,” John Motson said) There has never been much grand silverware on display in the club’s cabinet but what of that? Jeremy Goss’s immortal goal, Delia Smith and her husband’s extraordinary financial and personal commitment to the club (and yes, that ‘Let’s Be Having You’ moment) and last year’s thrilling last minute promotion are enough if you are a Norwich fan. Should we survive the EPL this season that will be a triumph. If Arsenal or Chelsea fail to snaffle one of the great trophies it will be a disaster for them. What a difference.

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49 comments on “OTBC: An open letter to all who despise sport and most especially football”

  1. misskatty says:

    Hurrah, how lovely. I’m a lifelong footbally-crickety kind of girl, with AFC Dons heritage and a Spurs obsession. And Test Matches. Oh God Test Matches. I confess I have always assumed golf and snooker weren’t for me, but I happily sit and watch them with my Dad. Sport is responsible for at least 50% of my relationship with my Dad. Boyfriend is also completely obsessed by 1970s-80s snooker. You’re right, grown ups should know better than to dismiss things and that nothing worth knowing is easy. Must try harder.

    This has made my Saturday. Good luck to the Canaries for the season. Look forward to reading your excited tweets. :) x

  2. stephenemoss says:

    Whilst wishing Norwich City every success this season, I must challenge the claim regarding the oldest song in footballing history. Newcastle United FC, my own premier cru, has long been associated with The Blaydon Races, a song that dates from the 19th century, even predating the existence of Norwich City.

    PS: Just finished reading your two autobiographies while on holiday on the Anatolian coast. Most enjoyable, and, since we share the same pattern of Jewish descent and were born in the same month only a few miles apart, packed with many agreeable, familiar references.

  3. barneyfan says:

    Being of small stature when I went to grammar school there was the horror that instead of football we played RUGBY[horror of horrors] there was me 6 stone soaked in sweat with my fellow classmates 6 foot and 15 stone so i used to play on the wing so when i felt the hot breath and heard the thundering of size 13 boots coming towards me I could “accidentely” run out of touch.Luckily they decided to do cross country as well on Wollaton Park and I found my small stature made me great at this and couls smirk at the large friends struggling and even better they let you play hockey with the girls,although the ball was hard and some girls made Vinnie Jones look clean,that hook comes keen when stuck between your upper thighs and into the wedding tackle.
    steve

  4. Lenniegolden says:

    “Never quite got to the northern code” I read through a veil of tears … absolute and total unflinching muscular heroism, get involved !

  5. Trelawna says:

    I had dipped in and out of sport, brought up on a Saturday diet of World of Sport and Grandstand followed by an undergraduate obsession with snooker. Then nothing. I married, had children, was left and divorced. Then in 2003 I met a new man, a Baggie through and through. Despite being a Wolverhampton girl I allowed him to take me to a match. I was hooked. I too am now obsessed with West Bromwich Albion, but if I wasn’t I would gladly have hung my colours to the mast of Norwich City.

    I hope we both stay up this year.

  6. Evonne says:

    Wonderful blog, Mr Fry. Full of passion, love and humour. Thanks!

    From a cricket-loving Aussie who likes good cricket above Australian victories. (Yes, even in The Ashes.)

  7. grunthos the flatulent says:

    Love the year in snooker idea. That’s given me an idea for my gap year.

    Sadly my club, Plymouth Argyle, may not exist beyond next Tuesday due to the incompetence of distant and uncaring owners. What I wouldn’t give for every club to have a Delia Smith.

    Except Exeter City. Thsy can piss off.

  8. nonoyesyes says:

    What an inspirational blog! The ‘Welcome To Norwich’ sign – what a beauty! Your words paint a thousand pictures; and a fascinating history too ~ a share in a marvellous development for the love of sports! The exhilaration, wild excitement; the thrill of a match all get the blood pumping, with a rush of adrenalin when you’re so into the game you’re watching! The healthy image of the spirit of ‘the game’, which reaches out and grabs one’s attention, locking it into place for the duration!
    That same great love of sport grew up along side me, with 3 men in the family all of whom were NUTS about any and all sports too! I love seeing the passion being passed on too to the younger generation: the kids!
    I’d love to be a fan of the team you mention – they have the spirit of the game and it could only grow with more numbers standing behind them with eager enthusiasm, encouragement, and passion!

    :) x

  9. bjarkovic says:

    A great case made for your club. I shall support it as my second club, as you propose. You see, I’m a United fan. Come the end of the season, I’ll share with you how it felt to support Norwich and defend them in the usual footy banter.

    Cheerio,
    Bjarki

  10. kalamity86 says:

    excellent read but i cant say i share your passion for golf or snooker
    many of my 9125 days on this earth haver been spent following manchester united
    with as much pride as a father has for his children riding a bike for the first time!!
    the great rivalries and bitterness that excretes from my every pore towards a (citeh) or kopite fan is uncontrollable
    for example in the recent match up between manchester’s red and blue halves at wembley we were 2-0 down at half time and came out the second half like spartans and rose to the challenge as if it was a world record pole vault attempt and with 30 seconds to spare…………nani raced clear rounded joe hart……..and slid the ball into an empty citeh goal….i like to think of city’s empty goal as a metaphor for theyre trophy room and the hearts of those many glory hunters i have seen jump on theyre bandwagon…..that i like to think of as being drunk driven by theyre chairman :)
    and my joy was rubbed in the faces of every blue nosse that

  11. grumpyoldmen-uk says:

    A delightful read and somewhat surprised.

    Well aware of your support for Norwich and pleaded to see them promoted hope they will do well. Which of course means more TV exposure for yourself as the camera always pans in to when your in the crowd. I will follow Norwich myself after my fist choice of Kings Lynn, (You may well laugh )

    Your love of darts has taken me by surprise. I can imagine you sitting at home in deepest cold winter around an open fire watching the World Championships from Frimley Green. Shouting out ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY ! along with the fanatical crowd who do not hold back with masks outfits and all that goes with the occassion. What a skillful game ! Once played in all local pubs as part of the community bringing man and boy together.

    Today there are less and less dart boards in local pubs which is a real shame. Perhaps Mr Fry you could you could lobby a few locals and have darts team for The Hoste Arms !!!

    Enjoy your sport !!

  12. janama says:

    so try a cycle ball game, it can be very very exciting for you! :)

  13. Christine Pennock says:

    As a life long Red supporter with King Kenny back at the helm and new signings this summer it will be an interesting season. I do agree there is too much money spent on players wages etc. I blame the FA they allowed the first million pound player and executive boxes we now have to live with it. I know they’ll say their not to blame they always do.

  14. dickpink says:

    I’ve never had any real interest in sport but have, coincidently, followed (I don’t feel qualified to use the term ‘supported’) Norwich City since the Ron Saunders days. Good to see they start the season in the middle of the table – albeit in alphabetical order.

  15. Blaine83 says:

    I am a fairly recent initiate into life in Norwich, and i love it having come from scotland where the only two football teams who fight it out for the cup every year are celtic and rangers, and your affiliation to each club is supposedly dependant on your religion at birth, football has never really grabbed my interest.
    Until recently, seeing the news when Norwich were promoted and they had that big celebration with the open top bus trundling through the city and the sea of yellow and green faces, with people genuinely joyous about THEIR team making it into the premiership, sparked an interest for me, for as long as i can remember, whether celtic or rangers won they would never have a procession through the streets for fear of inciting some sort of stupid sectarian feud, they would just fly the trophy in by helicopter, have a bit of a celebration in the stadium then leave.
    so this year i will follow norwich (probably not “closely” and keep an ear out in the hope that lambert can put together a good enough team to trouble the upper echelon of english football.

    besides its a football team owned by delia smith, its worth watching just for that, i mean sure shes a good cook but she truly is as mad as a sack of dancing monkeys

  16. volokev says:

    How true, how painfully true. As a lifelong Arsenal fan I have experienced the ecstacy of success and the total and abject misery of failure.In al honesty I considered, pre-season, taking a season ‘off’ but it just can’t be done and with only two hours to go before our new season begins, I already consumed with dread. What a strange hold this game has on us.
    Good Luck Norwich City.
    (Just finished The Fry Chronicles and I loved it and my heart goes out to you)

  17. Alec C says:

    The trouble with all of this is that you have to /care/. It doesn’t matter about the sport, its skills, its triumphs and its disasters, if you don’t care. I am English, but I don’t believe that eleven men with “England” written on their shirts matter to me. My nearest Premiership team is in a city which, I think, I have visited five times in twenty five years. I simply cannot see why it matters whether A beats B or vice versa – and hence the style and skill with which they do so is irrelevant.

    I am therefore the eunuch in the harem – I see it all going on around, but I cannot participate. And I really cannot understand what it is all about. I don’t despise it – I just do not understand.

  18. RJR says:

    As much as I can whole heartedly relate to your early experiences, for I too sort every reason to not participate in school sports, I’m afraid I am still waiting for the adult “love” to kick in. My good wife puts it down to me not having a competitive bone in my body. Perhaps it is the amount of competitive spirit that sorts the sports mad from the sports apathetic ?

    John, blogging as RJRdaydreamer

  19. pips says:

    Hi Stephen..it’s me.
    Just wondering.
    Have you ever watched a game of Aussie Rules : )
    Nothing in the world like it.
    Massive muscly bodies, tiny tiny shorts, hot meat pies&tomato sauce, punchups in the stands.and leaps as high as an elephants…you know what.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxM8XB61ZvU

  20. ellen2 says:

    Hi Steven:
    I’m a fan in New York. I’ve been watching Q.I. on line for about a year now and I love the show and of course you are ‘smashing’. While I suppose this comment should relate to sports this does not. I thought it might be a sweet idea if you could publish a list of your favorite words and challenge ‘us’(your minions and devotees) to use them in a sentence of humorous quality.

    Just a thought.

    Again, I am a fan forever,

    Ellen

  21. jeffwill1 says:

    I have to confess that I like cricket, rugby, and football, and I’m an American male. I don’t have the simple and legitimate explanation of having married a Brit, or of having lived in the UK. I am in the technology business and often work with expats and with global teams, so I started learning about cricket to be able to break the ice in conversations. “Did you see Dravid’s ton last night?” “Wasn’t Broad’s hat trick amazing?”

    This led me to spend time on the BBC Sport page and exposed me to a number of other sports. I’d played football (soccer over here) and attempted to play rugby a time or two. The video highlights of the EPL stunned me. Say what you will about the business of English football, the skill level and the physical abilities of the players is astonishing and makes for exciting viewing.

    I started following Manchester United when Keane and Beckham were playing, and have done so ever since. However, I look forward to watching the Canaries with interest, even from afar.

    Thank you for continuing to bring a smile to my face and interesting thoughts to my mind.

  22. karmamara says:

    A few years ago my husband decided I needed a football club to support, much in the same way as you suggest teamless spirits should root for Norwich City. Although I always loved cricket from a young age (my dad played village cricket in rural Devon) I despised school sports and thought football was naturally for boys. Himself was a lifelong Port Vale fan, and felt I was missing out on a tribal oneness that having a team fulfilled. Him indoors chose a team that needed all the support it could get and so I support Accrington Stanley. At the time they were in the Unibond league but hopes were high and I haven’t overall been disappointed with their progress. I would therefore recommend to anyone considering adopting a team that it will be enriching and Saturdays will never be the same.

  23. usulpt says:

    could be worse. you could be supporting Sunderland and have to come up with a reason why.

    I still remember the Gunn days, with that wonderful flowery shirt fluttering in the wind. they were birds, I tell you, bright, chirping, cheery birds. Canaries, no less.

    Best of luck in the new season and cheers from a huge fan in Portugal (if you’re wondering, yes, there are such things as a Fry fans in dear ol’ financially stripped southern Europe)

    Jorge

  24. Dave McGowan says:

    I can sympathize with the ‘early years’. At roughly 12 years of age I was 6’3″.
    “You’ll make a great basketball player!”
    Dribble a ball? I couldn’t move 20 feet without tripping over my own feet.
    (Skidding on a hard-wood floor is very painfull)
    Hit a ball? If it’s moving about a foot a minuet I can knock it into the next week.
    I did, however, love playing foot ball … the kind we have in Canada which the US used as a template for theirs. I also enjoy watching CFL.
    Hockey? On a few occassions I made my living playing and singing. Hockey Night in Canada interfered drastically with my income.
    Dave
    http://www.dmmcgowan.blogspot.com

  25. GT USA says:

    As my username indicates, I am an American. As a result, cricket completely befuddles me. Lord knows I have tried to watch it but the game is apparently beyond my ability to comprehend and the matches last longer than Hanukkah.

    I also prefer a sport, like darts or golf, that can seamlessly integrate alcohol consumption and indeed encourages it.

  26. socngill says:

    Very good piece. I will of course be hoping that Norwich stay up, both because they are the underdogs and because I spent a few years as a child living in lovely Norfolk.

    You will however forgive me if I don’t do the above if they stay up and my beloved Blackburn Rovers go down!

  27. Rubium says:

    I love you MR FRY……

  28. Fredrick says:

    Latecomers are welcomed to the party and we who always knew better are happy that you showed up at all. The Canaries stole a happy point against Wigan yesterday. The Canaries fell under heavy pressure at the end but somehow there where always a leg, a goalpost or a wickedly curved blade of grass at hand to frustrate the Wigan attack. I’ve never been to Norfolk but I know everyone will be a little bit lighter at heart this whole coming week. Until the next game..

  29. EllieK says:

    Thank you Stephen, very much enjoyed reading this :)
    My favourite part is this:
    “I have always had, to a frankly stupid degree, a deep sense of loyalty and connection. I came from East Anglia, therefore East Anglia was the best part of Britain. It was natural to me then that my heart would leap when it heard or saw the word “Norwich” on the national news”, because this is pretty much exactly how I feel about where I come from – Somerset :) I am so proud to be from there and to feel that it is my home – even though I’ve enjoyed living in other places, I always come back to it. I have always felt sorry for those who don’t feel the same way about where they came from/grew up.
    I also hated participating in sport/games/PE at school – although I could understand why those who were good at it enjoyed it, to me it was just humiliating as I was so bad at it. Now, however, I have suddenly become gripped with a desire to get involved in sports, not so much watching them, but to actually play and have a go. Unfortunately, most of my friends experienced similar levels of humiliation when it came to school sports and thus have no desire whatsoever to engage in them now and so I have no one to play with :( I know you can join local teams, but I imagine these are full of people who played at school and therefore know all the rules etc already and are far superior in terms of skill.
    However, something like darts is much easier to get into because all you have to do is buy a dartboard/visit your local pub, both of which I now do. My interest was mainly sparked by your #darts tweets, so thank you for that.
    I love that you tweet and write about things you love in such a warm, enthusiastic and engaging way, it makes me feel encouraged to try things rather than demotivated, which is wonderful.
    Enjoy the snow in NZ! :)
    Ellie xxx

  30. miketalbot says:

    I can vividly recall standing on a windswept school rugby pitch on Newmarket Road in Norwich, shivering on the wing, praying the ball would never reach me and wondering what was the POINT of sport? Then my grandad took me to Carrow Road and I witnessed the wonders of Kenny Foggo flying up the wing, the golden locks of Graham Paddon and his long throws and the antics of Kevin Keelan in goal. Now it was obvious – sport was all about spectating! Whether a Test match from the Sydney Cricket Ground or a bowls match from Potter Holiday Centre in Hopton on Sea, sport has been an abiding interest ever since.

  31. DisembodiedVoice says:

    Greetings from a long time American fan. For obvious reasons, the specifics of this post don’t register with me, but the sentiment certainly does. Your comments about the more abusive fans of other sports’ attitude toward cricket is reminiscent of the maddening ridicule I’ve seen of baseball by fans of the other three major American sports (basketball, ice hockey, and especially American football). Most baseball fans have long since given up trying to explain why we don’t think it’s boring – that the excitement comes from the constant more or less silent tension, broken up by brief moments of uproarious activity. The skill, the strategy…perhaps I’ll just stop myself there and say you have my sympathy. :)

    I can also relate to supporting to what we’d call a “small market” team. I’m a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Twins, who, while they’ve won two World Series in my lifetime, go long periods where they seem to do nothing but frustrate us. The team has a long and storied history of being solidly trounced by the hated New York Yankees, baseball’s over-funded, over-hyped equivalent of Manchester United or Arsenal, whose season is also considered a failure without yet another World Series trophy. In fact, prior to moving to Minneapolis in 1961, the team was the legendarily bad Washington Senators, upon which was based the Broadway musical “Damn Yankees”, a combination of baseball and Faust, which features the song “You Gotta Have Heart”, perhaps the best anthem for the sporting underdog ever written.

    I had the good fortune of being able to see the Twins win the World Series against Atlanta in ’91, (receiving dozens of hugs from fellow fans as I left the stadium) and despite the length of time since, we continue to revel in glories long-past. There are bronze statues of past greats outside our new year-old stadium: Puckett, Killebrew, and Oliva. The team, which represents a huge, largely rural swath of what looking-down-the-nose coastal dwellers refer to as “flyover land”, is competitive nearly every year, despite our Yankee confidence problem. They’re a great team to support if you naturally favor the underdog.

    So best of luck to Norwich, which I’m sure is indeed a Fine City. You’ve convinced me to throw my support, for what it’s worth, behind your Canaries. When in the US, Mr. Fry, where you certainly spend a fair amount of time, consider the Twins. May we continue to praise the underdogs for as long as money continues to skew the results of our favorite sports.

  32. Horatio says:

    As someone who has remained indifferent to sports, I read your essay with interest. Part of me has longed, in a way, for good reason to quell the slight undercurrent of contempt in my heart for the manly gravitas bestowed upon most sports. After all, what use is it to be a hater? Inspired by its principals of competition and fair play, I then decided to read George Orwell’s piece “The Sporting Spirit”, a sort of opposing view. And for all you sports fans, here’s the result:

    Orwell 1 – Fry 0

    x

  33. Nicolaas says:

    Thank you Stephen, you bring back memories of a vacation in Norfolk, where we were allowed to put our little caravan in the grounds of Fakenham Race Course. We drank our pints of bitter in the neighbouring Fakenham Sports Club where we were delighted to see an indoor bowls course. Norfolk, great folk, as we say, even though we are Dutch. The Norfolk landscape is a little too much like our Holland polder land and windmills, but still, a great place to be. Not to mention Norwich, a fine city that deserves a more thorough exploration next time. Did not notice any canary worth mentioning, though. At the moment I am enjoying listening to Stephen reading his Chronicles, and it is absolutely superb. The only thing not good about it, is that it will be over in a couple of hours…

  34. auscontra says:

    I’d have to agree with you about darts. Fascinating television. I think it might have something to do with the ‘Close Up’ framing of competitor and dartboard. Reminds me of some maxim I heard from a film production course I did in my early twenties. “Camera distance (from subject) equals emotional distance”. I think the other attractive thing is the thought that to “train” one can go down to the local pub…legitimately!

  35. CharlieLee says:

    Stephen, I have much respect for you and you are always entertaining to read but do you seriously believe that the likes of Wolves, Stoke and Birmingham City “have overtaken the game with their colossal financial and media reach.”

    I am a lifelong Wolves fan and I have ridden through the highs (not so very high) and lows (almost as low as it goes) over the last twenty years. We have finally managed to sustain a position in the top flight for a couple of seasons through battling on the pitch and prudent financial management in the back-office, so please let us enjoy this as we have earned it too.

    Good luck to all teams in the EPL next year, but particularly to Wolves!

  36. dogbiscuituk says:

    Don’t just be “distressed to note” that your “hero … Ian Schuback … does not even merit a proper Wikipedia entry.” Write one! That’s how Wikipedia works! And isn’t that exactly what you do best! And you know these things already!

    That’s what I did on finding there was no article about the best band in the world, the now sadly disbanded Futuristic Retro Champions.

    As Gandhi once said, Be The Wikipedian!

  37. philipeygarth says:

    As a life-long Bradford City fan, I have to say that Norwich has always held a very firm position near the top on my list of favourite rival clubs, and there are few joys greater, for any true supporter of the game, than achieving a result at the fortress Carrow Road.

  38. AndyWhyteUK says:

    Outstanding blog post Stephen. Really enjoyed it :)

    I don’t think there are many clubs left with the community spirit Norwich has. Not in the top flight anyway.

  39. janis hetherington says:

    As a gay mama ( I have the accolade of being the first lesbian to be inseminated in the UK 40 years ago) it was always assumed in those dim, dark days of the 70′s that I had to be ultra butch and sporty so my darling son Nick could enjoy the benefits of a’Dad’ as in the comment above. I am indeedy sporty but did not don a footy strip to engage in
    all manner of ball games with our ( I do have a female other) child and his mate and matessess.The sprog is a fervent Arsenal supporter although living in the USA with his wife who has to endure his passion.No doubt the coming season will be fraught with his expletives wafting across the POND.

  40. Padua says:

    Alas I tried I really did because I love all things “Stephen” but I got to the bit about football and genetics took over. (I claim that my total lack of interest in sport is due to a missing gene.) My eyes glazed over and my mind went blank and all the words ran into each other. This happens after a few minutes watching any sport – the blank mind I mean. It is all incomprehensible – not the rules, but why anyone would do it at all. Now sheep-dog trials…… that’s a sport I can watch.

  41. janis hetherington says:

    As a gay mama(I have the accolade of being the first lesbian to be inseminated in the UK 40 years ago)it was always assumed in those dim,dark days of the 70′s that I had to be ultra butch and sporty so my darling son Nick could enjoy the benefits of a ‘Dad’ as in the comment above. I am indeedy sporty but did not don full footy strip to engage in all manner of ball games with our (I do have a female other)child and his mates and matesses.The sprog is now a fervant Arsenal supporter, although living in the USA with his wife who has to endure his passion.No doubt the coming season will be fraught with expletives crossing the POND.

  42. canary-dave says:

    Sir Stephen,I always enjoy reading your tales, I’m very proud to be a fan of Norwich City FC, and I have, for many years, been deeply, madly in love with Saint Delia!

    Now that we are back in the promised land, I feel truly blessed :-)

    ps – it has been noted that you often wear a green or yellow tie when chairing QI – good man.

  43. lanock46 says:

    As an Aussie fan, I have had the pleasure of losing my voice cheering against the ‘Balmy Army’ at the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne Australia. It was an exciting trip for me and enjoyed immensely.

  44. deaconjean says:

    HI Stephen, I’m riding on the back of this blog to wish you a Happy Birthday – I might have known you were a Leo, we’re all gorgeous aren’t we! Followed and enjoyed your career on television and have now discovered your books – loving Moab! Can’t wait for your next one. Hoping it won’t be too long before you revisit Aus.
    Love deaconjean

  45. sizzlelizabeth says:

    I work at the headquarters of the biggest sports companies in the world… hint… swoosh… and we love you stephen because of your passion for sport. As we say “a better world starts with sport”

  46. Vambo Marble Eye says:

    I remember when colour TV first came along and it became possible to watch Snooker. It is a most enjoyable and mesmerising game to watch, and the players had wonderful names like Hurricane Higgins and Whirlwind White. However, I don’t think I have ever watched a football match all the way through, and with cricket I just don’t know what’s going on. I used to hate school PE too. The first(and only)time I ever served a ball properly in tennis, I hit the games teacher on the back of the head, and got a detention. That whole business of picking teams for netball or hockey is so humiliating. I always knew I would end up having to putter up and down the sidelines while the head girl and her pals showed off. What a shame it has put me off ball sports for life! But I love swimming. I taught myself, and I go 4 or 5 times a week. I have Bipolar, and since I started regular swimming a year ago, I have been able to stop one drug and reduce the dose of another by half. So, to me, my sport is everything.

  47. Mrbluesky4 says:

    As a passionate Stenhousemuir fan for the last thiry odd years, you will understand that I have a love of pure sport. As you rightly comment, there is much that is wrong with football but I still get a thrill if Stenny win on a Saturday. Surely this is the true nature of sport, to dish out exhilaration and despondency in equal measure.
    Keep the faith dear boy.

  48. ethoward says:

    So, Norwich it is then. As a Canadian newly arrived in London I have been feeling rather lost without a football team to support. Just this morning waiters at the hotel I am staying in in Saigon wanted to know who my favourite Arsenal players were, and I was rather embarrassed that couldn’t even name one. So now I have a team, and I will study my team and throw my weight behind MY TEAM. Go Norwich!

  49. Little Richardjohn says:

    As I believe the most recent neurological research shows, Leonard Bernstein or Einstein are no more intelligent than Wayne Rooney. Just more eloquent and better read. Luckier.
    Sport is not art or science, but it is as important and as essential to the human condition, and takes the same degree of brilliance to master.

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