SWINDON Robins made an inglorious exit from the Knockout Cup this week after a BSPA official failed to pull their name out of a hat.
It’s the sort of nonsense slapstick you’d expect from, with all respect, Sunday League football, but this is meant to be the elite level of speedway in this country.
If you’re going to send a club packing from a competition at least give it some sort of drama and razzmatazz.
Here are five simple suggestions of ways to decide the winner of a tie in the event that Swindon find themselves in a similar predicament in future.
1. Great British brake-off. Each captain gives their machine to Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, who have to fashion a stopping device out of eggs, flour, sugar and hundreds and thousands. Both riders then take to the track for a single lap. The brake which tastes best after its sprint round the shale wins. Greg Wallace to judge.
2. New Inn Gladiators. Alun Rossiter holds court at his former haunt as each rider faces their opposite number in a titanic best-of-three arm-wrestle struggle. Tactical “rides” are available should a team fall 10 points behind – at which point the rider in the lead must use his left arm. Kevlars optional.
3. Blunsdon’s Next Top Model. Over 16 weeks the riders are given a variety of tasks by a panel, including Gok Wan and Nigel Pearson, which test their strength of character and adventure in front of the camera. Categories include swimwear, formal evening dress and the controversial ‘one night with my silencer’ (filmed in Poland).
4. The Xtra Factor. Reserves from both teams sing live in front of a team of judges, with each act being personally mentored by a Grand Prix veteran. Will Greg Hancock help Simon Stead conquer his nerves in the build-up to his rendition of Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’? Did Nick Morris make the right choice in performing an a capella version of ‘Gangnam Style’? This competition is susceptible to Louis Walsh.
5. Wheel or no wheel. The promoters and riders from both teams each pick a box, in which there is either a wheel or no wheel. Watch the gaudy patterns on Noel Edmonds’ Christmas sweater send Gary Patchett slightly mad as he tries to decide whether he should swap his 40kg cardboard cube for the box Peter Kildemand and Jason Doyle are chucking across the room. I look forward to hearing from the sport’s authorities soon.
Armstrong’s reputation forever tarnished
SO LANCE Armstrong is a “serial cheat”, a doping bully who conned the world during cycling’s dark age.
Yet at the same time the seven-time Tour de France champion was a role model for philanthropy, generating around $500million for charity through his Livestrong fund, amongst others.
A BBC journalist, Tom Fordyce, wrote in a superb piece this week that Armstrong did not only dope himself, he “duped a nation”. But even that does not go far enough.
Not only did he dupe a nation, he swindled a sport and a global following of fans and admirers.
His achievements were inspirational to so many, he was revered and loved, no one wanted to believe the accusations against him because every human being – no matter what they claim to think – loves a good old-fashioned dollop of classical romanticism.
He will forever be the man who fought cancer to compete in an elite sport but, like Ben Johnson or Joe Jackson, his reputation is not just tainted or tarnished.
It has been bulldozed by his own misdemeanours. As a sportsman he is a fallen idol, but what of his fundraising?
Though he cheated his way to glory, along the way he contributed immensely to the fight against cancer.
What will we remember of that Lance Armstrong? What will the charities think of that legacy?
It's a complex moral equation. Winning at all costs may be wrong, but without the drugs and the blood transfusions would he ever have had the stature necessary to raise such an estonishing sum of money?
I guess we'll never know.
Going back to the future
IT LOOKS like football might be starting to master the art of time travel.
Bournemouth sack Paul Groves, Bolton sack Owen Coyle, Bournemouth lure Eddie Howe back from Burnley, Burnley bring in former boss Coyle and we’re back to where we were two years ago.
In the meantime, all three clubs sit lower in the Football League now than their corresponding positions back then.
Which begs the question, what was bloomin' point in the first place?