Saturday, 5 July 2014

Rain stops play (but not Wimbledon)

I've never been a fan of Wimbledon. Well, that's not strictly true. Wimbledon, as in the place in South London, is alright, there are some nice restaurants, there's Wimbledon Common (who can forget the Wombles?) and their used to be a decent football team with, if I recall, Vinny Jones in the line-up; they used to play at Plough Lane, which doesn't seem to be there any more.

Whoever he is, he needs a slap
No, I'm talking about 'Wimbledon' or, to be more precise, the rather snooty All England Lawn Tennis Club and its annual bun fight, otherwise known as 'the Championships'. I hate it. In fact, given half the chance, I'd rather sit through an episode of Doctor Who (click here for more details).

Yesterday was the women's final and what a complete load of boring old rubbish it was too. For a start it only lasted 55 minutes – although that's a blessing in disguise, believe me, as I can't stand it when it becomes obvious that, in the women's game, a third set has to be played before anybody can be crowned the winner and we can all go home (or simply switch off the television). It's even worse in the men's when it drifts towards being a 'five-setter'. Alright, I know I have the choice as there's always the 'off button', but you get my drift.

There was a time when tennis was full of personalities and the sun always seemed to shine, back in the late seventies and eighties when Borg, McEnroe, Nastase and Connors ruled the courts, when it was fun to watch and you could be guaranteed a decent match instead of the equivalent of a 0-0 draw in football (for more on the beautiful game, click here). Remember McEnroe insulting the referee and all that 'you can't be serious' stuff? Nastase being told to 'play on'?

The women's game has always been boring, even in the seventies and eighties, and full of boring personalities: Rosie Casals (men's legs and Y-fronts) Virginia Wade (not my cup of tea) Navratilova (rather boringly, she went through a phase of always winning, a bit like Schumacher in Formula One) and Billie Jean King (enough said). There's nothing worse than the same person winning year-in, year-out. Look at the Williams sisters: a few years ago, one of them was always in the final – on one occasion they were both in the final – very boring and very predictable.

Why aren't there any tennis hooligans? That would liven things up. A bunch of bare-chested, tattooed lager louts with beer guts chanting 'you're gonna get your fuckin' 'ead kicked in!' Why can't we have court invasions and rival supporters goading one another on the way to the match? Imagine if the players were unruly: Djokovic jumping the net and biting his opponent on the shoulder, perhaps, or Kung-Fu kicking a spectator like that French bloke from Manchester United.

That, of course, is the main problem with Wimbledon: it's horribly genteel, middle class and elitist with 'safe' television presenters like Sue Barker in her 'egg shell blue' suit purchased, no doubt, from some trendy, but boring, boutique for 'the older woman' in Barnes. You never get the feeling that it's all about to kick off because, quite simply, it isn't. The spectators are safe and boring too: they either read the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph and live in the Home Counties or they're horribly affluent-looking Europeans who, basically, need a good slap once in a while. I can't stand it when the camera picks out a player's coaching team, sitting there in Ray Bans and expensive sportswear looking concerned at the way the match might be going.

And don't you hate it when the camera scans the spectators in search of 'a celebrity' and then, on spying one, hovers for a while so we can all catch a glimpse of, I don't know, Sir Terry bloody Wogan, sitting there self-consciously in expensive-looking sunglasses and whispering to an equally affluent companion. And everyone at home is wondering, "Ooh! Who is it? Is it his wife? Is it his daughter?" Don't worry, Sir Terry doesn't fool around and nor does anybody at Wimbledon – apart from Boris Becker in that broom cupboard.

Well, it's nearly over, thank the Lord. Today Federer plays Djokovic. Federer's already won it God knows how many times, but he keeps coming back for more and everyone claps politely when he emerges on Centre Court as if he's an old friend of the family. If he wins today, incidentally, he would have won it eight times. How boring is that? There should be a rule stating that once you've won it three times you can't play at Wimbledon anymore – other than in the ultra-boring mixed doubles.

And today, of course, if it rains they simply switch on the roof and hey presto! Play can continue. Why can't they rip that roof off its hinges and get back to the good old days of 'rain stops play' – cue shots of people sheltering under umbrellas and the covers going over centre court while the All England club's referee looks up at grey skies unable to second guess God's next move and God's just sitting there on his Lazy Boy with a can of Stella saying "Job done, my son!"

I've never liked Wimbledon (or any spectator sport for that matter) and never will and I'm a piss-poor tennis player too. In fact, I'm absolutely pants at it. If you play tennis with me you'll spend more time retrieving the balls than playing the game.

You know what I'm waiting for later today? When the match is over, somebody is crowned the winner and the poor man's Duke of Edinburgh comes out from under his stone (you never see him at any other time of year) to chat with the ball boys and present the trophy, although that's pretty boring too. The 'winner' kissing the cup, the loser looking pissed off – but holding back his jagged emotions – and the crowd taking photos on their smart phones. Now that's when it should all kick off. The loser should either leave the court in a rage, never to return, having smashed up his racket and thrown it at the umpire OR he should wait for the Barker interview to vent his anger at the world and then walk off, having insulted Barker and sticking his fingers up at the crowd as he makes his way to the dressing room – bugger those numpties with their over-sized tennis balls asking for autographs.

Then, all that remains, is that horrible, light-hearted bit when the BBC cobbles together some 'funny' stuff. You know the drill: umbrellas turning inside out in a squall, people sheltering from the storm under a tarpaulin, a pigeon waddling on to centre court. Ho! Ho! Ho!

1 comment:

  1. Tell you what is not boring...the UK sendoff of LeTour! Wow. I see some of the countryside that must i nspire some oc your rides. Beautiful there.