Justin Fashanu is the only gay footballer that has ever played professional football in England. That's right - the only one, ever. This brief blight on football's landscape happened for a few seasons in the early 1980s. He notched a goal of the season, got hounded out of a few football clubs, was disowned by his brother and hanged himself.
Fortunately nobody gay has ever played football professionally before or since.
Yesterday, the FA pulled out of a launch of a new film created by Ogilvy to raise awareness of homophobia in football. A promising, if somewhat eye-watering sounding script was canned. Someone got cold feet.
Whilst those involved in the project have been discussing the merits or (lack of) in the film, the more depressing aspect is that a sport which is institutionally homophobic remains institutionally homophobic through more inactivity. The FA couldn't decide what it wants for lunch without resorting to a bout of politicking and bickering - eventually settling on starvation via inertia. It's taken two years to get to yesterday's cancellation - and the budget set aside for the project would buy you an hour of John Terry's time.
And all the while the familiar, tedious debate around the concept of the 'role model' continues. Another week passes of hot air and news print around nothing. A model works her way through Terry and his mates, 50,000 sing "Chelsea legend," whilst the lonely corpse of Justin Fashanu continues to swing under a bridge.
We now have confirmation courtesy of yesterday's 'Swayze Dead' Twitter trending, that your Mum & Dad will be on Twitter by the end of the year. Not that we were far off anyway. Reading Women's Weekly last night, I couldn't help but notice the magazine take a virulent stand against @schofe for 'tweeting' on his 'Memorial For Dad Weekend Mini-Break'.
Rumour is the most effective vehicle to promote a new communication channel or device. There is a precedent in email.
Yesterday's 'trending' took us all back to the mid 90s, and a tasteful song that stays with us to this day. Generally, a Man United v Arsenal fixture at Old Trafford isn't complete without a 5 minute chant of "Sit down you paedophile," sung vile-ly at Arsene Wenger.
Back in 1996, the UK was on the cusp of embracing email. Only senior management or people you didn't really know, had email addresses. We didn't really get it. Those that did - and the finger at the time was pointed to blokes in the City - recognised you could shuttle information around at rapid pace whether it was true or not.
At 2pm on a random Tuesday I was faxing press releases directly to bins in newsrooms. By 2.30pm, Ian Lessey in accounts was running around the office telling everyone that Wenger had apparently been "busted by cops in a hotel room." By 2.45pm William Hill had stopped taking bets on him being fired and by 4pm, he was on the steps of Highbury issuing a full denial.
By 5pm everyone realised it was total bollocks, was a bit confused, but wanted 'in' on this email thing.
Now everyone knows a little more about how Twitter works. I'm sure it's what Patrick would have wanted.
The son and heir to 4 Fuks Saké has changed the dynamic of Friday mornings. Pre and post his arrival the net effect is the same. Thursday night drinking has been replaced by Thursday night screaming. The walk to the station is melancholy. Today I long to sit in silence at Chester-Le-Street under two jumpers and switch my phone off.
I spent 90p on The Guardian. 60 minutes later, all change. I was spat out of the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road, spirits lifted, and thinking ‘what excellent value for money.’
What the digital / media debate continues to forget is that I spend my 90p on talent, not on sheets of paper or a format. Talent has a price and it's worth paying for.
Whilst the parallels are often drawn between the revenue models of news media and music (why pay when you can get music/info for free), the debate also conveniently avoids other entertainment vehicles.
Take sport. Should we perhaps convince Arsenal fans not to spend fifty quid on an Emirates ticket on the grounds that there's plenty of football to watch on Hackney Marshes? It's not going to happen.
So why would anyone NOT want to pay for good writing? Reading isn't a function, it's a pleasure.
Paul Calf once said, “you can’t buy class.” He’s right. Newspapers may change their formats and delivery systems, but as long as they supply collections of high quality, talented writing, people will pay. I don't give a monkeys whether I give my 90p to a man in a shop or I drop the coins in the slot on my computer - I'm paying the brand that brings it to me.
These people are professionals. We are amateurs. They’re worth a few quid. 90p's a steal.
...is what Barry Davies should say in response to the new England kit.
The England shirt. It's important.
As a little under 10 kid in the early 80s, my parents had it easy. I had no interest in Star Wars figures. Couldn't give a monkeys about Action Man. They just had to give me a ball.
I got out of bed every day knowing that one day I would pull on an England shirt and lead out the side at Wembley. I'd have to step out of the football season to lead England at Twickenham during the Five Nations, and naturally in the summer I'd play Test cricket for England.
As a result, I scrutinised the England kit whenever it came out. After all I'd be wearing it in front of millions by the early 1990s. I prayed for simplicity and respect in the design. 25 years later the penny has dropped. I don't care if it's a polo shirt, it looks a bit special.
Stephen Fry recently suggested that darts was perhaps the most exciting, almost perfect of sports. From the moment the MC yells "Game On," every dart is crucial. Not a single second is wasted. There is no ebb and flow, no break for a throw in, a substitution, or a quiet passage of play. There's lights, sweat, tension and a roar. Skill, mental strength, anguish and ecstacy every 2 minutes or so. It's fat blokes throwing tungsten at a mat some argue. Simon Barnes in The Times does greater justice to the players.
"The art of darts is in perfect stillness of everything save the forearm of the
throwing arm: the big frame, anchored to the ground by adipose tissue, makes
this possible on a consistent, endlessly repeatable basis. Watch Phil
Taylor. When he throws a dart, nothing moves but his right forearm and an
eyebrow....It is the pursuit of excellence."
It's all of course set against a soundtrack of Sid Waddell, calling the game and dropping references to Wittgenstein, Alexander of Macedonia and Galileo.
15 days to go - personally, can't wait. The sanctimonious whining of anyone from Spielberg to Konnie Huq can be parked to one side. Seeing China have its well deserved moment in the sun will be captivating, breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Londoners are about to get a big wake-up call.