It’s three months since my pal Derek Whyte first came up with the idea of a Scotland v England legends footy game in Dubai, and he’s regretted coming up with it a million times since. Happily, after hours of hard work, he’s pulled it off – on Friday February 24 the likes of Gary McAllister and John Collins will face Lee Sharpe, Carlton Palmer and the boys at the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence. The game will round off a brilliant day of football with youngsters, Women and Vets teams doing battle in the afternoon, followed by the big match at 6pm.
I say he’s regretted it because it’s one thing coming up with a good idea, but a different thing trying to make it happen. If you’ve ever hosted a party, you’ll know all the headaches involved. Magnify that a thousand-fold by trying to organise 20 dopey footballers onto planes and fly them across the world. Some even phoned him to ask how they get to the airport; one asked if he knew the train times from Southampton to Heathrow (not mentioning any names, Paul Walsh). Trying to get them to send passport copies via email has been like asking them to come up with a new theory of relativity. Most have been so cosseted all their lives by big clubs, they go to bits when they have to organise themselves.
Even I’ve been roped in to help check that the PA system works. At one point Derek’s boss, Chris Brown, got a call asking him to check that the levelling of the temporary car park was on schedule. ‘I’m a football coach!’ he screamed. ‘What do I know about levelling car parks?’
Happily (and amazingly), it’s come together. There’s the Scotland v England golf day on Thursday. Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock, who’s just been named Sports After-Dinner Speaker of the Year, will be taking to the mic at the gala dinner. Then on Friday it’s footy all day and the big game.
And when it’s all over? We’ll recover… and think about doing it again next year.
Hear Rob’s radio shows on Coast 103.2FM every Friday 11am-2pm live from the Mövenpick JBR (04 449 8888), and every Saturday 6pm-9pm live from the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai Marina (04 399 5000).
And another thing…
Blow me down with a feather. Kevin Pietersen scores 100 and gets Dhs40 squllion from the Delhi thimgummybobs for joining the weird T20 party. Not a bad week for the man who’s averaged 11 in the tests against Pakistan.
Good on the big man. He’s absolute class, and I’m sick of hearing the press doubters who are questioning the England players: T20 is their pension. It’s the first time cricketers have been able to earn anything like footballers. Pietersen is just one of many who have become T20 boys for hire, jogging between the Aussie big bash, the IPL and a gig in Bangladesh. I won’t be watching, but I’m genuinely thrilled that their bank managers will be…