The beautiful game is a waste of energy to me, and all the fuss and hyperbole leaves me cold. Furthermore, like the Charles Addams cartoon above, am I the only person over here enjoying the ignominy of the english early bath after 3 lack-lustre games? (Or so I heard, as I was certainly not going to waste our current glorious weather in front of a TV. And it is wonderful to walk and drive through the deserted streets of this country whilst the games are on.) In truth I was going to give this theme a miss, but I have belatedly been stung into prose by newcomer JJ's reminder of the horror referred to below, when my glorious Lindisfarne sullied their name and reputation with the travesty unwound in his piece. So how can I take away that flavour, yet stick within a theme with no resonance for me? And then it came to me: Roderick David Stewart, football trialist (failed) for Brentford F.C.
Now, in fairness, I am not that keen on Rod Stewart either, at least not these days. But there was a time when he could do no wrong. Ignore his ghastly gargles through the Great American Songbook and, more recently, Motown. Forget even the Britt Ekland silk and satin years and beyond. (Do you think I'm sexy?No.Not one iota.) I refer to the gravel voiced guttersnipe, busking his way around Europe, before blagging his way into Steampacket, a multi-voiced venture with Long John Baldry, featuring also the then husband and wife, Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. From CND sympathising folkie, Rod was now morphing into "Rod the Mod". A spell in the Jeff Beck Group led him into contact with longterm partner in mischief, Ron Wood. Upon the dissolution of the Small Faces, Ron Wood stopped their ship from sinking, as replacement for Steve Marriott, drafting in his old mucker on vocals. The rest is, as they say, history, with Stewart having dual success with the (no longer Small)Faces and with his own solo career. I loved those first 4 or 5 Faces LPs and his contemporaneous solo work, feeling his mojo became lost as he left the former to concentrate on the latter. One was tempted to ask him, as he became a megastar, where, Rod, did it all go so wrong? (On a football related note, this was often the question asked of George Best, legendary 60s soccer player, as he cavorted in baths of champagne with various Miss Worlds)
So why is Rod Stewart my theme, even if he once bid to play the game professionally? Why, so I have an excuse to play this wonderful clip from, as ever, my beloved Top of the Pops. Maggie May was arguably his breakthrough moment, and despite being credited to his solo career, it is with the Faces that he appears here, joined by famous underground DJ, John Peel, "busking" on mandolin, before the scene descends into a kickabout. Both Rod Stewart and John Peel were big afficionados of football, Rod, I think, famously being the most conscientious supporter of his Scotland side, themselves absent from many a world cup these last few years. I still hate football but I do love that clip.