Big John's weekly view
10:40, 27 Jul 2012
The flame still burns, somehow. After doing everything they could to quench it by giving it to the most unlikely hotchpotch of z-list fame-manacled celebs to carry it down from Land’s End to London, the most famous fire in the world finally made it onto the stage with Mark Ronson.
There is a stampede to make these Games the most inclusive, the best, to gather all the superlatives and fling them like confetti over everything. An eclectic buffet of celebrities, politicians and pundits have been spread out so far for our enjoyment , each as unlikely as the last as a journey that started with Jedward has somehow led to an American presidential candidate door-stepping the Olympic Park a day after GB insulted North Korea.
Some of the BBC’s coverage involved talking to people such as Robbie Savage and Lewis Moody and pointing out to them that they’ll never get to take part on the Olympics, which is a bit mean. But, as Lewis reminded everyone, rugby will very much be a part of the Soccer/Rugby Olympics in 2016.
Getting these guys in as athletics pundits is an interesting move, promulgating the message that there’s a little something in the Olympics for everyone, a feeling that will be rubberstamped once the trampolining gets under way. Savage was in his pomp and a blinding pair of white pants, accusing Mary Decker of going down far too easily on the heels of Zola Budd in Los Angeles in 1984 and, looking at it again, he may have had a point. Alan Hansen, meanwhile, has been a closet 1,500m fan all this time.
Way, way more ‘normal’ people should have been given a chance to carry the flame. People such as that guy
who somehow made his way into the frontline of the BBC studios and appeared live on TV when all he was supposed to be doing was turning up for an interview for a cleaning job. But you suspect the real Olympic flame is safely locked away somewhere, maybe in the Tower of London, before it is passed to a proper celebrity at the opening ceremony.
It wouldn’t be the first time we were led to believe in the mystique of it all. We were duped in 1996 when the archer blatantly missed his target but someone flicked the pilot switch and the thing lit up anyway. Conspiracy theorists completely missed a trick by not finding out where that burning arrow ended up. There was nothing on the news, as far as we can recall, about an apartment complex being burnt to the ground in mysterious circumstances. Certainly the archer was not arrested for arson.
As the flame flamed away on the stage, Boris Johnson asked “can we put on the greatest Olympic games ever” a day after the greatest flag screw-up in the history of the competition. Romney, meanwhile, spoke about the nation of Great Britain.
Romney’s obviously a Team GB fan and it’s on Garth Crooks’ shoulders to guide that bandwagon down the road. He pointed out that the Senegal players were big, fit and strong and you imagined at that point Stuart Pearce racing back to the dressing room to see if he had a Plan B anywhere. Usually if the opposition goes to the trouble of being fit against a Pearce team they’re halfway there. Showing Pearce a tactics board must be like giving a Rubik’s cube to a five-year-old and starting the timer.
We don’t want to jump on the Garth-Crooks-is-a-poor-pundit bandwagon. In fact, we quite like his enthusiasm in contrast to Mark Lawrensen’s blatantly unconcealed hatred of the game. Crooks could find the silver lining in even the most desperate of situations but he’ll be up against it as England stagger through another group stage.
Meanwhile, when everyone else was looking toward London wondering if a spark from the flame might just accidently float across the stage and set fire to Boris’s combustible looking-head, Ireland re-entered the markets. We thought that being in markets was what got us in trouble in the first place and were kind of content and happy at being out of them for the last while. Now we’ve done the equivalent of sneaking back into Copper’s behind the bouncers’ backs after having being kicked out in the first place for puking up in the jacks.
We’re back in a panic having to work out whether Italy selling bonds at a yield of 4.8 percent when they were 4.7 percent in June is a good or bad thing. Thankfully, though, Constantin Gurdgiev will be around to keep an eye on things while we get on with the serious stuff of marvelling at the synchronised swimmers. There was no better man during Euro 2012, Wimbledon or the Tour de France, when everyone else was on about Spain, Andy or Bradley, to issue some inane tweet about the NTMA. He’s like the adult at the birthday party who asks if you have your homework done.
We were better off when we had someone holding our hand and tut-tutting if we even looked in a shop window. Now the casino doors are back open and hopefully, in the very near future, this will all seem like a nightmare. We’re back with the big boys.
The flame still burns alright.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @eircomSportsHub
Follow John Kelly on Twitter @JKelly1882