“I love Blankety Blank, Terry Wogan and we still drink tea”

Plastic Brits, footballing agony and comedy,  Stuart Lancaster’s CV, a new golfing No1 and the London Olympics. The week in media and sports quotes

“The monarchy of Britain is just fantastic. I also loved Blankety Blank and Terry Wogan. And we still drink tea of course… I also loved fish and chips” Lillian Porter, British mother of hurdler and British athletics team captain Tiffany Porter, who also insists that her “plastic Brit” daughter knows the words of the national anthem.

True Brit: Sir Terry Wogan (who is Irish)

“Are we applying the same standard to English rugby and English cricket? If so, where does Kevin Pietersen fit within all of this? It comes down to one question, are we breaking the rules? No we are not” Alan Pascoe, Olympic silver medallist.

“Of course I am British. I’ve been in this country for 11 years, my kids are British, 60 per cent of my friends are British – Britain is most definitely my home” Yamile Aldama, the 39-year-old world indoor triple jump champion, who has previously competed for her native Cuba and for Sudan, and is British courtesy of marriage to a man who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in connection with smuggling 100kg of heroin.

“I choose the team captain for her leadership skills and her athletic skills and her credibility, not her ability to memorise words or her vocal skills” Charles van Commenee, UK Athletics’ head coach – and a Dutchman – dismisses as irrelevant complaints about the appointment of US-born Tiffany Porter as Great Britain team captain for the world indoor athletics.

“If you are going to represent Britain at the Olympics then I think it is sensible to know the words of the National Anthem. I am pretty clear on this — anyone who wants to compete for Great Britain must hold a British passport or go through the full naturalisation process. What I am against is giving special treatment to people simply to allow them to compete for this country” Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport.

“Yes, it was unwise of Van Commenee to select Porter as team leader ahead of longer-serving members of the squad, playing as it did into the hands of a right-wing agenda. For the same reason, it was perhaps unwise of UK Athletics to ban the Mail from team press conferences and athlete interviews. Even crassly put questions have a right to be posed by a free press, and freely debated” Simon Turnbull, The Independent’s athletics correspondent, who has been around long enough to remember the Daily Mail‘s involvement in Zola Budd’s all-comers’ record in obtaining a British passport.

“Here we go, one more time for the hard of thinking. What part of this sentence in yesterday’s column, ‘obviously as the planet shrinks there will be increasing numbers of children born in one country and growing up and moving to another’ did you not understand?” Martin “I’m not Ian Wooldridge” Samuel in Tuesday’s two-page justification of his paper’s plastic Brits stance.

“Football is at its best when it is almost too excruciating to watch” Gary Lineker on Twitter watching Arsenal’s ultimately glorious failure in the Champions League against AC Milan when they won 3-0 to go out 4-3 on aggregate.

“The problem is we found four or five idiots. Incompetent. Somehow, we found all the incompetent ones” Flavio Briatore, former QPR owner and unwitting star of the documentary The Four Year Plan on the managers he hired and fired and proving he cannot always recognise an idiot.

Chat line to chaos: Flavio Briatore

“The documentary – part Sopranos, part Sweeney and part Do I Not Like That – legitimised every rumour about Briatore’s interference in team affairs” Oliver Holt, SJA columnist of the year, in his Mirror blog.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I met a friend of yours’. They’re liars. I don’t have any friends… life experiences have made me like that” Roberto di Matteo, the friendless caretaker boss at Chelsea.

“I can’t let myself do stupid things any more. Roberto Mancini has made me grow up” Mario Balotelli, maverick of Manchester City, announces he is a reformed character.

“Birds singin at 330am… don’t make me come out there + shake your tree bird… anyone know how to clear off noisy birds?!” Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United’s king of Twitter, is kept awake by tweeting of a different sort.

“There was no flamboyant gesture, no kissing of the badge, none of the tediously choreographed routines favoured by lesser men, lesser players. Instead, he crossed himself instinctively, then trotted back for the restart. After which, he scored four more goals” Patrick Collins, in admiration of Lionel Messi’s latest, five-goal feat.

“The Frenchman, not helped by the most obsequious of interviewers, spent an hour talking tosh, even by his standards” Charlie Sale’s Daily Mail column on a £500-a-ticket session in Barcelona to listen to Eric Cantona.

“But what has Lancaster actually done for England? Nothing really, except scrape up the remains of a squabbling World Cup squad, inject some youthful positivity, instil a rosy-cheeked team culture, invite keynote speakers from other sports and the military to set the tone, win his first two Tests away from home, transform the mood at Twickenham and prove himself, initially at least, a decent selector. Not to mention …finding time to coach West Park Leeds Under-11s on a cold Sunday morning last weekend” Robert Kitson in the Guardian before Stuart Lancaster enhanced his reputation even further by masterminding England’s win in Paris.

“Watching Moody chase a high ball, as Ben Kay, his former team mate, once so marvellously described it, was like watching a dog chase a Frisbee into the middle of the road. You knew the chance of injury was high; with Moody, they just used to hope that he would injure two of the opposition in the process” Owen Slot, chief sports writer of The Timeson the retirement of Lewis Moody.

Top of the world: Rory McIlroy

“I never said that I want to be the next anyone. I just want to be the first Rory McIlroy, however good that turns out to be” Rory McIlroy after becoming the world No 1 golfer.

“I can get through three or four big bags of Minstrels or Buttons. At Christmas, when I was really bad, all I ate was chocolate for a week. I didn’t eat real food. I was not in a good place and I was about to quit swimming” Gemma Spofforth, now back on track after qualifying for the Olympics team.

“When Lord Coe disputed the right of British taxpayers to know how many of them would get to watch Usain Bolt in the 100m final — the most single compelling event at any Olympics — he displayed unwelcome arrogance and stirred up a host of demons” James Lawton of The Independent following the revelation that only 29,000 out of 80,000 seats would be available to the “ordinary” punter.

“If it had been a case where we had been fiercely competitive throughout the year it would have been quite tough to deal with…I’ve drawn a line under it because at the end of the day he didn’t win the world championship, so it could have been even worse” Lewis Hamilton fails to camouflage the hurt of finishing 43 points behind McLaren team-mate and fellow Brit, Jenson Button last season.

Masterful: Jim Rosenthal, compere at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards

“Every Saturday afternoon, I’m aware of the heritage of the programme, going back decades and decades and decades … and all the really great broadcasters, all the way back to Jim Rosenthal” Mark Pougatch, the SJA’s new Sports Broadcaster of the Year, pays a back-handed tribute to the compere of the British Sports Journalism Awards.

“A Level results are in…maths D1 A…maths C3 A….Spanish AS A…Spanish A2 A 🙂 all A’s!!! Can’t believe it!!! So happy! :D” Tom Daley may be carrying the expectation of a nation on his diver’s shoulders this summer but last week he was just a happy teenager celebrating his exam results.

“They could have swallowed a dictionary and crapped that press release” Mike Selvey, The Guardian’s cricket correspondent, gets to the point in fewer than 140 characters after the England and Wales Cricket Board announces news of its review of the summer season’s structure.

“The phrase ‘lazy journalism’ is itself an unthinking, indolent cliché, trotted out by those with no clue about the pressure under which national newspaper journalists toil. I have never worked with anyone who has made up a story. It would be a very silly thing to do, since stories which prove to be palpably untrue would wreck the reputation of the author” Mick Dennis in a thoughtful and considered interview about football reporting.


Mon Apr 16: SJA Spring Golf Day, Surbiton GC. Watch the SJA website for booking details.

Thu Apr 19: SJA Annual General Meeting, Fleet Street, 12.30pm. Click here for details.

Thu May 10: SJA Ladbrokes Lunch with former England cricket captain Alec Stewart. Booking details to be announced.