By Gerry Moran
Sport keeps one half of the population sane and drives the other half mad. So be it. Politics, on the other hand, drives everyone mad; think housing, hospital beds, political donations and now nursing home charges. And, if proof be needed drop into my local any night and listen to the clientele (myself included) argue — sorry, debate — the issues of the day.
We’ve discussed them all, vigorously, divisively and loudly. So loudly in fact that yellow cards have been frequently issued while some have been threatened with the red. This week’s column, however, isn’t about politics, it’s about sport and sincere apologies to that half of the population who are driven spare by it. Look away now.
Let me start on a positive note with golf and Rory McIlroy’s marvellous win in the Dubai Classic by one stroke (on the last hole) to pip Patrick Reed with whom there’d been a bit of handbags ( tee-throwing actually, ouch!) during that final round. I’m not a golfing man but I follow the game and am always roaring for Rory. Roaring for Rory! Has a ring to it.
Regarding golf, here’s something interesting: ever wonder why a golf course has 18 holes instead of say 10 or 12 or 20? Back in 1858, during a discussion among the board members of Saints Andrew’s golf club in Scotland (the home of golf), a senior member pointed out that it took exactly 18 shots (as in shots of whiskey) to polish off a bottle of Scotch. By limiting himself to only one shot of Scotch for each hole, the Scot figured a round of golf was finished when the Scotch ran out! True or false? Something perhaps to be debated (argued about even) over a few shots in the local!
As for the origin of the word golf it comes from the Dutch ‘koff’ or ‘kouff’ meaning club. In the Scottish dialect of the early 15th century, the Dutch word became ‘goff’ or ‘gouff’ becoming golf in the 16th century. There’s also the very sexist explanation for the word golf – Gentlemen Only. Ladies Forbidden! Surely not!
Then again in 1921, the year British women were given the vote, the Football Association banned ladies’ soccer. Females were not officially allowed back on the pitch until 1970! And staying with soccer I am always puzzled by fellow team mates embracing and high-fiving each other just before kick off! What’s that about? I have nothing against men embracing each other but they’ve been together in the dressing room for maybe an hour beforehand so why not do the high-fiving and embracing there?
And so to rugby and an observation; I love the way a player dives over the line, flat out on his belly, for a try which looks decidedly dynamic and athletic. However, I feel a shudder in my nether regions when the player does that. I genuinely do. The player, however, doesn’t seem to feel anything! Maybe that rush of adrenaline doesn’t just get him over the line but leaves him over forgetful of his ‘valuables’. Heroic is one word for it. Foolish is another. There’s a lot of awareness about head injuries nowadays, I would suggest that equal attention be given to the nether region.
Here’s another sporting issue: you enter a pub with your partner and do your damndest NOT to listen! Oh, not to your beloved, I mean trying not to listen to the commentary on the match on the telly that you’ve recorded to watch at home and have now turned your back on. This is challenging, not least when half the pub lets out an almighty roar and you dearly want to turn to see which team has scored. But you don’t because you are gazing lovingly into your beloved’s eyes.
Men, as we all know, can’t multitask; drinking a pint, nibbling peanuts, and looking lovingly into your partner’s eyes while trying desperately not to hear the telly behind you is mega multitasking. You’re concentrating so much on not listening to the commentary that you don’t hear a word your partner is saying. Doesn’t augur well for a pleasant drink together. But then that’s sport, like politics, it’s controversial and divisive!
As for controversy, there’s Gaelic Football and the possible replay of the contentious Senior All Ireland Club Championship final – a mouth watering prospect.
And don’t you just love the sport of sport!