Wednesday, 19 November 2014


After Harry Redknapp had criticised Adel Taarabt for being three stone overweight, a friend of mine said, 'Have you seen him? There's nothing on him. The way Redknapp was going on I was expecting somebody who looked like Mido.' These days players have the same body fat percentage as muesli. As my friend said, 'If he thinks Taarabt's tubby, what would he have made of Alan Foggon?'

When the corpulent Edwardian newspaper baron Lord Northcliffe encountered the skinny Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw in the West End one evening, he remarked: "Good God Shaw, you look like there is a famine in the land." The Irishman studied the considerable bulge of the Daily Mail proprietor's stomach and replied: "And your Lordship looks like the cause of it."

For some reason this exchange popped into my head when I read that Mido is on the verge of signing for Hull City. The last time I saw the Egypt striker he was playing for Middlesbrough and packing more padding than a Stanley Cup goaltender.

"He holds the ball up well," was the verdict of the bloke behind me. He was right, though it has to be said that Mido's ability in that area was greatly aided by the crater that rapidly developed around him whenever he stood still.

For Tigers fans of a certain vintage the sight of Mido's billowing waistline will bring back happy memories of the legendary Billy Whitehurst, a belligerent centre-forward with a stomach my friend Steve claimed "could host the Super Bowl". Steve is a Newcastle fan. In 1985 the Magpies broke their transfer record to sign Whitehurst from Hull. He failed to score in his first eleven games. The thought of him wearing the Mags' number nine jersey made Steve so hot under the collar it's a wonder his shirt never caught fire.
'Whitehurst is built like a brick shithouse and plays like one too,' Steve said, 'He turns as quick as an oil tanker. He has the first touch of a jack-hammer. Jesus Christ, what a line-up: Beardsley, Gascoigne and Billy bloody Whitehurst - Peter, Paul and Lardy.' 

Steve was not alone in his opinion. Whitehurst was reviled by supporters at St James' Park. When asked why he thought that was, the Yorkshire striker's reply was disarmingly frank, 'Because I were shit,' he said. He left for Oxford after flicking the Vs at his own supporters during a League Cup tie.
Big Billy was such a size that when he played against Leeds fans at Elland Road taunted him with chants of "Have you ever seen your dick?" Whitehurst, I should say, denied being overweight. "I weren't fat ... the kit was too small," he once explained after relating how Reading fans had sung "Ninety pies an hour" at him during his brief spell with the Royals. Since a typical Whitehurst anecdote begins: "I'd had an argument with this bloke who'd come at me with a big spanner. I'd got it off him and done him over the head and then his kneecap and fucked off," I reckon it is probably wisest not to argue the point.

No comments:

Post a Comment