LET me introduce you to my mate Kevin.
He’s a single bloke in his 20s who works long, hard hours in a manual job which allows him to scrape together a few quid and indulge his passion for watching sport.
Last weekend — perhaps the first hot, sunny bank holiday in living memory — was a big one for Kev.
A Manchester City fan since his dad first took him to Maine Road with the club in the third tier, he headed down to Bournemouth on Saturday then got up early on Sunday to watch the boxing from Vegas before heading to the Test match at Headingley on Monday.
What could be more fun?
OK it was a pain in the jacksie they moved City’s trip to Bournemouth to a lunchtime kick-off but as a regular traveller, he’s used to it.
So he headed off on a coach around 6am, arriving for a couple of swifties before kick-off.
Bournemouth’s Charlie Daniels opened the scoring with such a cracking goal, Kev almost applauded — although he thought it weird that Daniels celebrated by angrily kicking a corner flag and advertising hoarding. Wasn’t goal-scoring supposed to be enjoyable?
Anyway, City started playing their liquid football and Gabriel Jesus equalised and however much he prefers Maine Road to the Etihad, Kev noted that Jamie Pollock never played like this.
Still it looked like a draw for City until the 95th minute when Raheem Sterling scored a saucy chip and the away end went ballistic.
In the excitement Kev surged forward and a couple of his mates spilled on to the pitch to embrace Sterling and Co, but there was nothing inflammatory.
It was sad that a steward tackled Kev’s friend as if he was an Isis terrorist rather than a lad enjoying a day out, but a lot of them enjoy a power surge when they pull on high-vis jackets.
It was even sadder when Sterling received a second yellow card for his celebrations — didn’t they always criticise players for being too remote from fans?
Still Mike Dean was referee – so when the fun starts, stop. Sterling was only enjoying the thrill of a late winner. At least Sergio Aguero, who knows all about those, was cleared of any bother after standing up to the stewards.
Anyway, three points, a long trip home and an earlyish night to be up for the boxing.
Kev is amused by Conor McGregor. He likes the fact he was a plumber’s apprentice who’d been on the dole but fought his way up and was now mouthing off at the world.
This fight against Floyd Mayweather was a bit of fun.
McGregor wasn’t a boxer and Mayweather was an all-time great, everyone knew that, but Kev wanted to see how it panned out.
He didn’t understand why so many of the twitterati were getting so uptight about it. This was a slice of cabaret, ideal to watch through a hangover. It wasn’t as if anyone got hurt…
The next day he popped over to Headingley to watch the Test on the Western Terrace with his mates.
It said in the papers that Ben Stokes risked being banned during The Ashes after being reprimanded for swearing. Big ****ing deal. Is the Ashes being staged in a soft-play area this year?
Anyway, this Test was thrilling. Kev and his pals enjoyed it, having a beer and a sing-song and contributing to the famous Headingley beer snake.
Again those London media types were moaning about the crowd getting boisterous. They worry Test cricket is dying but they don’t want working-class lads like Kev turning up spending their hard-earned — despite the other three sides of the ground being civilised.
Anyway, Moeen Ali had them gripped when he carted the Windies for 84 from 93 balls.
Kev likes the fact Moeen empties bars without ever drinking in them. He’s his second favourite Muslim after Sheikh Mansour.
So Kev was back at work yesterday, sunburnt and skint but having enjoyed three days of escapism.
Actually, he’s an imaginary friend, Kevin. That tends to happen when you’re a sports writer and always working weekends.
But a few of us still like to pretend that sport is part of the entertainment industry, there for actual blokes like Kev to enjoy.
Not that it’ll ever catch on.
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ENGLAND were pipped by New Zealand in a thrilling women’s rugby World Cup final – a match regarded as a breakthrough in line with the progress in quality of female football and cricket.
And the ever-enlightened RFU’s response to such trailblazing times?
Yep, they’ve made the majority of England’s players redundant in a switch of emphasis to sevens.
As Barry White sang: ‘Don’t go changing, tryna’ please me…’
THE favourite footballer of this column is Harry Maguire — a glorious throwback whose playing style, demeanour, voice and name all suggest he once exchanged bruises with Nat Lofthouse.
But when the Leicester centre-back joined the England senior squad for the first time and strolled in with his kit in two black bin bags, it was confirmed that Maguire truly had arrived in a DeLorean from the 1950s.
SO the FA want England’s football team to adopt the ‘no d***heads’ policy of the New Zealand All Blacks – who were engulfed by two separate sex scandals during their visit to Australia. I dunno, maybe just try to copy the bit where they win 95 per cent of their matches?
A CRYSTAL PALACE team that thrived under Sam Allardyce’s pragmatic management, is struggling under Frank de Boer — a pure-footballing disciple of Johan Cruyff.
Crikey O’Reilly. When the Dutchman is inevitably sacked, he’ll be replaced by a seventh Palace manager in five years, since Dougie Freedman quit for Bolton in 2012.
The same Freedman who was last week appointed as the Eagles’ sporting director, two games into De Boer’s reign and ten days before the transfer window closes.
It’s almost as if chairman Steve Parrish doesn’t have a coherent philosophy.
ANYONE who jeered when Leicester took a private jet for their match with Man Utd has obviously never had their soul crushed by road works on the M6 between Sandbach and Knutsford, which are scheduled to last 40 months — longer than the Spanish Civil War and about as much fun.
THERE’S too much hooey being talked about Spurs – a Wembley ‘curse’ and Harry Kane playing under an Indian sign in the month of August.
But there’s nothing supernatural afoot, both problems are entirely explicable. Firstly, Wembley feels nothing like the soulful old fortress of White Hart Lane, where Tottenham dropped fewer points last season than they have in two ‘home’ matches this term. Secondly, Spurs effectively start their season on September 1, due to Daniel Levy’s fetish for deadline-day testicle-squeezing.
If striker Kane doesn’t score in August it’s largely because Tottenham are never settled.
FROM the Champions League to the Carabao Cup, draws are becoming so complex, convoluted and crushingly dull that they should all be held behind closed doors, then released like league fixture lists.
Transparency is nice but we’ve also got to consider the brevity of life itself.