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Welsh colleagues are understandably aghast at the rugby goings-on of the last 24-hours. “I’d barely had time to down my pint of celebratory Brains,” said one who’d been toasting the weekend’s victory over Scotland, before the word came through of coach Mike Ruddock’s resignation. Player-power seems the most likely explanation, with, to borrow a cliche, the inmates having apparently taken over the asylum. Speaking of one on the point of checking himself in, I’d commend everyone to read the report of my exasperated colleague, and devout Welshman Huw Richards on scrum.com.
You have to be of a certain age to remember Jackie Pallo but, as one who is and does, I’d assess him as someone who almost made you believe wrestling was real. One Saturday afternoon bout in which he, or his opponent, misjudged the power of a high head-over-heels flip he went into saw him land from a great height with legs either side of the upper rope. Technically it was a knock-out, virtually castration. The Highbury man famed for his pinstriped trunks - I assumed they were black and white, they certainly were on the TV of the day, till I viewed this - and long curly hair died on Wednesday, aged 80, and it’s a surprise he wasn’t dispatched back then in the early-ish Sixties. A regular highlight of the year was his appearing in a mid-day bout against Mick McManus on Cup Final day. As a warm-up act it usually outmatched the main event. Millions watched and the two contestants got about £70 each - more than winning cup finalists, though, as I think Pallo told me, they put in for a rise to £90 and got it. I worked with him nearly 20 years ago when he came to appear on a Central TV programme about whether wrestling was fixed. He had no phone, lived in Folkestone and you had to get to him through a friendly neighbour who did. We came back from Birmingham on the train, had to change platforms at Watford and he struggled getting from one to the other. He’d just had a hip replacement - from injury no doubt induced by the likes of that fall on the high rope - but was recovering: “you should have seen me before it, I was an old man”. He could still tumble around the ring but his dream was to make it on to a soap opera. As far as I know he never did.
Wrestling may not be everyone’s idea of sport, but shooting is one of the Olympian variety, so I feel justified in adding comment to the bulk of that already made on the subject of vice-president Dick Cheney’s passion for winging small birds. In the event he bagged a millionaire mate, though the fault appears to be that no one told the vice-president his friend was there. Put it down to another ‘failure of intelligence’.