BBC Wales broadcast “The John Hartson Story ” last night, which gave us a fairly harrowing insight into the cancer which almost took his life a couple of years ago. It showed a different side to the man who was lauded for his bristling, all action style and went some way to explaining his rapid decline on the pitch.
The film included footage of him after his operations, and the reactions of those closest to him as he lay in a coma.
“I was so, so close to dying, people don’t realise I was only seconds away from death.
“Others have suggested that I had no chance of survival and that in fact ‘John has gone’.”
The surgeon who worked on him admitted he wasn’t entirely confident that Hartson would still be alive when he turned up for his next shift, which gives an idea of how close it was.
For those of us whose cancer as just something that happens to other people, it was a wake up call as to the dangers of not going to the doctors when there may be something wrong in what some men are still extremely self conscious about discussing with their own GPs.
And my own doctor, a pretty young twenty something, should now be particularly embarrassed about that restraining order she applied for.
Hartson has had his troubles on and off the pitch, but its good to see him doing well, and heartwarming to see a former player putting something back into society with the work he does with sick children.
He has , in a BBC radio interview, also confessed to a bit of a gambling problem, losing thousands of pounds a month.
“If I have another bet I will not only lose my wife and children but I will also die.”
Er, I think he might be getting his two problems a little mixed up.
Anyway, we wish him well.
” Safe standing ” is back in the news. Celtic applied some time ago to have a section of the ground altered to the German style flip up seats to allow for “Safe Standing “, and the club is reported to be frustrated at the lack of progress from the Safety Advisory Group who have asked for more time to consider the issue, which in real speak means that no-one at the agency wants to be the one who says yes in case it goes wrong.
Fancy that, someone in Scotland not wanting to say yes in case it all goes wrong. Woah, need to stay away from politics.
Look at poor JK Rowling, and the grief she is getting. She has donated £1m to the No campaign, prompting complaints from Womans Groups that she isn’t helping them in their quest to persuade men that when a woman says no she really means no.
A statement by the club said;
‘Celtic Football Club is disappointed and frustrated that approval could not be given at today’s meeting of the SAG to grant permission to install rail seating in Celtic Park, designed to allow safe standing by supporters,
‘The club has provided detailed information in support of this proposal over the past two years and has made every effort to address comprehensively all issues raised by the SAG.
‘The SAG has asked for further time and information to be provided before a final decision can be made.
‘The club of course will provide the additional information requested and we will undertake to do this as quickly as possible. We will then seek an early meeting of the SAG to consider progressing this matter without further delay.
Well, the Green Brigade would be easier to round up if they were all in the same place, which was sectioned off…
‘This is an important spectator safety issue. It is also an opportunity for Glasgow and for Scottish football to lead the UK in this area and it is one which Celtic will continue to pursue.
‘We look forward to the next meeting taking place and hope this matter can be resolved as soon as possible.’
Celtic are desperate to be the innovators with this idea, in exactly the same way they weren’t about the introduction of the living wage for their non footballing employees.
The Safety Advisory Group didn’t say which particular aspects of the plan were causing them concern, in fact , they haven’t said anything, so we can only guess at what they are worried about. Which is likely simply to be accepting responsibility for their decision.
Those concerned about the choice of number two to new manager Ronnie Deila were given hope yesterday as it emerged that Peter Houston will soon be confirmed as the new manager of Falkirk, and that John Collins is mulling over a possible return to Hibernian. He is expected to give his decision either today or tomorrow, but the lure of being number one again would suit his ego more than a secondary role at Celtic.
All of which means that promotion from within is becoming more likely, with John Kennedy or Stevie Frail in the frame, although Billy Stark has made sure his phone has plenty of battery.
Are you absolutely certain its not too late to ring Willie McStay ?
The arrival of Deila has prompted optimism that wayward striker Tony Watt may well flourish under a man with a reputation for getting the best out of players, and Watt himself is anxious to get started on the second part of his Celtic career. To prove he is ready, and now a more mature version of the raw youngster who was sent out on loan, he’s been out to get himself a new tattoo.
No, I don’t know either. If you live near him, keep an eye on your car in case he sprays “this is not my car ” on it.
Today sees the start of the World Cup, and that means blanket media coverage for all of us. Still, it means we get the benefit of some truly thought provoking knowledge and insight, which might even change the way we look at the game.
Gary Lineker, for instance, reckons that the World Cup will be won by Brazil, Argentina, Spain or Germany.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter thinks that the World cup will soon be contested by teams from other planets, presumably including the one he’s been living on for the last few years.
He revealed this at a press conference, and then went on to enthuse that Qatar 2022 will be a success despite the problems of the climate there.
” And so will Antartica 2026.” he added.
He also wants to bring in a rule where managers can challenge referees decisions on two occasions during the game. Former Manchester Utd manager Alex Ferguson said as long as the two occasions were clearly defined, it would be a good idea.
He suggested calling the “the first half ” and the “second half. ”
Whilst the rest of the World looks forward to a month of what will hopefully be drama , excitement and high quality football, supporters at Scotlands newest club have their own worries, as theIbrox power brokers have been forced into trying to raise a few quid to see them until payday again.
Except “payday “, when the season book money refreshes the clubs bank account, hasn’t gone to plan, largely because hardly anyone has bought one.
Chris Graham, who heads the Peoples Front of Ibrox, is concerned about whats going on at Ibrox;
“We are extremely concerned there are now two different messages being sent out from Ibrox.
“They show the boardroom split and raise the question as to who is running Rangers.
“Graham Wallace has clearly stated there is no financial crisis, while a former PR man for Rangers and Sandy Easdale is briefing that there is and it can only be resolved by an urgent share issue.
“Mr Wallace has said twice the club is on a secure footing. He stated there is ‘absolutely no prospect of administration’ and that the club is in its healthiest state financially since he arrived. So why are meetings taking place about an emergency share issue?
“Why has the club had to take loans just to finish the season? Why have they not been repaid despite season ticket sales we believe to be around 16,000 and which would surely have raised the £1.5m required to do so?
“The message sent out by Mr Wallace appears to be at odds with that of Sandy Easdale.
“Who are Rangers fans to believe? Who wields the real power in the boardroom?
“If it’s Mr Easdale then who is he taking his instructions from, given his refusal to name the people behind Blue Pitch and Margarita?”
Its hard to believe it hasn’t sunk in yet. He won’t realise whats going on until he gets asked for his Tesco clubcard at the till where his seat in the stand used to be.
Although Richard Wilson, the talented and insighful BBC journalist, offers hope to the hordes…
” Dave King, the former Rangers director, wants to invest directly in the club.
Might be an idea to check that with Dave, if you can find him, that is.
The South African-based businessman and Wallace in his business review both estimated that it will require £20-30m of additional investment to provide Rangers with the means to challenge Celtic for the Premiership title and compete again in Europe.
It took them £67m to compete with part time teams. It may be a little bit of an underestimate to think that they could compete with full timers on less than half of that.
The only way to raise that kind of money would be a fresh public offering of shares, which is what King wants to participate in since his money would go directly to the club, which needs money spent on the football infrastructure – there is still no scouting network – and maintenance work at Ibrox.
Which is what they said they would do with the first lot of money that came in.
King’s intervention would likely lead to the dilution of the current shareholders, though, which is why an alternative route is being sought. The current squad, with one or two additions, ought to be good enough to gain promotion from the Championship, but to compete again with Celtic, Rangers need to be properly rebuilt.
Theres that obsession with “competing with Celtic ” . Which is what killed the original club.
There is a current shortfall to address, but that is only a short-term fix. For Rangers to compete at the highest level, a change in approach is required.
The ability to comprehend reality would be a start.
Speaking of realism, Neil Lennon has been offered £30,000 a week tax free to manage Al Shabab, over in Dubai, which has always been a popular destination for ginger haired people.
Anton Carbajal, Mexico and Lothar Mattheus have both played in five World Cup finals tournaments.
And the youngest and oldest player to appear at this stage of the tournament were…?