Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Great Sporting Fatties

While Ireland were giving South Africa a fright in yesterday's warm-up match for the Cricket World Cup, England were also being troubled by Bermuda, before eventually overcoming the island of the mysterious triangles and modest shorts. Key to the Bermudans bowling attack was 20-stone spinner Dwayne Leverock, who proved that success in international sport need not be the preserve of the emaciated or the musclebound.

Today in TSA, we salute those who forego weightlifting for pie-munching, prefer flapjacks to jumping jacks, and would rather reach for the peppermill than sweat on the treadmill.*

William 'Fatty' Foulkes
The spiritual father-figure to every fat goalkeeper (later devotees include Neville Southall, Andy Goram and John 'Budgie' Burridge), Foulkes played for Sheffield United and Chelsea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In between playing football and eating enough to satisfy his 6'7", 24 stone frame, he also managed to turn out in county cricket for Derbyshire. A tempestuous character, he is reputed to have ran naked from the Sheffield United dressing room in pursuit of the referee after the 1902 Cup Final in protest at the awarding of Southampton's equalising goal, and had to be restrained from yanking the door of the referee's room from its hinges as the official cowered inside.

Died of cirrhosis in 1916, at the age of 42.

Jimmy Keaveney
Those of us who were but lascivious twinkles in our Daddy's eyes in 1970s are well used to being regaled with tales of the Dublin v Kerry rivalry of the era, accepted as the greatest in Gaelic football history. When modern teams employ complex blanket defensive tactics and crowd the midfield area the disdain is audible: "yerra, tis not real football at all, at all. The great days of catch and kick are dead and gone."

Then we see footage of those old games and there's this fat bloke playing full-forward for Dublin! What are they on? That guy would keel over after 2 minutes of modern football!

But hang on a minute; the fat bloke is lovingly stroking over the most delicate points, like an elephant at a piano playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik note perfect, and knocking frees over from every conceiveable angle.

Jimmy Keaveney - proof that old football wasn't rubbish after all. Just out of shape.

'Big' Bill Werbeniuk
The 1980s Canadian snooker player's very name conjures up a paragon of ill-health. Big Bill smoked, drank (a lot) and toward the end of his career began taking beta-blockers, ostensibly for a heart tremor, probably also for the effects on his heart of his drinking.

And my could he drink! He claimed to quaff six pints of lager before a match and one for every frame thereafter. After his last professional match in 1990 he said "I've had 24 pints of extra strong lager and eight double vodkas and I'm still not drunk."

Unlike most of us, whose cueing abilities deteriorate as the booze takes hold, Big Bill had a pretty respectable career during the game's golden age. He reached the quarter-finals of the World Championships four times and was in the top 16 of the world rankings for seven out of eight years.

Beloved of the Crucible crowd, his finest moment at Sheffield came in a match against Dennis Taylor. Stretching his ample frame across the quivering baize, biology and lager combined as he broke wind, to titters from the audience. He dismounted the table, turned around and said "Who did that?"

'Fat' Frank Lampard
By normal standards of fatness, Frank Lampard is nothing of the sort. In fact, pretty much every last one of the opposing fans who sing "Big fat, big fat Frank/ Big fat, big fat Frank/Big fat, big fat Frank/Big fat Franky Lampard" at the Chelsea and England midfielder probably dwarf him on the Body Mass Index front.

But the taunt from his days as a youngster at West Ham carrying a little puppy-fat has survived as a result of the determined cruelty of football fans and also, the sense that Lampard takes himself just a little bit too seriously.

The story that emerged from Joey Barton's recent elevation to the England squad, even if apocryphal, illusatrates this perception. Barton had earlier criticised those England players who had released autobiographies following last summer's dismal World Cup showing (in the publishing industry disaster of the year Lampard, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney all published their stories to staggering levels of public apathy).

Gerrard had laughed off Barton's jibe, but po-faced Lampard remained peeved at the Manchester City midfielder's call-up. Supposedly, Barton sat at Lampard's table at breakfast, causing the Chelsea player to up tray and move elsewhere."Don't worry, I'm not going to eat your breakfast, you fat prick!", Barton is reported to have said.

*Darts players not included due to weight being key to providing proper ballast at the oche, not a side-effect of spending all day in the pub drinking pints and eating bacon fries.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Bill W of course was the first man to congratulate Cliff Thorburn on his 147 at the Crucible, entirely uninterested as he was in his own match on the table across the partition.

Rumour in Revenue circles is that he also tried to include his bar receipts as tax deductible work expense.

Not a word on Tomas Brolin - the ultimate pie eater?

3:05 p.m.  
Blogger Tommy77 said...

And Jan Molby as well. Too many fat people, not enough time!

6:49 p.m.  

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