THE image of the British as paragons of fair play takes a hammering in Richie Kelly's book Sporting Greats of the North-West (Guildhall Press, £11.95).
In it, the Radio Foyle man relates the story of Donegal cricketer Scott Huey who, in 1954, topped the Wisden bowling averages following his phenomenal performance in the Ireland-MCC match in College Park.
As Kelly relates, the qualification for the bowling list was a minimum of 10 wickets and, in his only first-class game that season, "Ireland's king of spin deceived 14 batsmen for 97 including a brilliant match-winning second-innings haul of 8 for 48."
The 1955 Wisden showed Huey heading the averages, but the publishers of cricket's 'bible' later made the retrospective decision to have a 10-innings qualification. As a result, England's Brian Statham is now seen as heading the averages for 1954.
Kelly's book is full of interesting stories from a variety of sports, which indicate that the north-west is a hot bed of sporting brilliance.
* * * * *
WHEN Crawley's Tyrone Barnett scored the goal which beat Barnet in England's League Two last weekend, it prompted 'Barnett beats Barnet' headlines, and it also brought to mind a similar feat involving an Irish legend.
In the 1920s, while playing for Leeds, Bob Fullam scored the winner against Fulham, and was rewarded with headlines of 'Fulham (sic) beats Fulham'.
In over 130 years of organised football, surely there must be more than two such cases?
* * * * *
FRIENDS of Irish football fans planning to travel to Poland for Euro 2012 got a shock when they visited Dublin's bookshops before Christmas. A travel guide was seen as a suitable present, but none was to be had -- all hoovered up by the fans.
Hopefully, a book token sufficed, as the good news is that a fresh supply of the guide books will shortly be in stock.
* * * * *
TIM HOWARD'S goal direct from a kick-out against Bolton last week not surprisingly had sports reporters the length and breadth of the football world reaching for their favourite search engine in order to list the times goalkeepers have scored.
Most made reference to the likes of Charlie Williams, who scored for Manchester City on April 14, 1900, or Pat Jennings, who found the net against Manchester United in the 1967 Charity Shield.
But Chris Skudder on Sky News declared that the first time it happened was when Peter Schmeichel scored for Manchester United in 2001. He was, of course, referring to the first time in happened in the Premier League, but it illustrates again what we have come to learn -- there was no football before Sky.
* * * * *
there are suggestions that Peter de Villiers will be retained as Springbok coach in a temporary capacity until Gert Smal, currently Ireland's forwards coach, becomes available.
This is an interesting situation, not least because the South Africa Rugby Union is required by law, along with all national sporting bodies in that country, to employ a South African as coach of their national team.
The only exception is if the organisation can prove that there is no native candidate qualified to take the job.
It wouldn't work in Ireland, of course, because European law demands that there should be free movement of workers within the EU so that you could not, for example, deny an Italian the opportunity to manage our national football team.
But there's a lot to be said for a system that encourages the development of local talent beyond the quick-fix of bringing in an outsider.
Mind you, the South African football team are struggling. The 2010 World Cup hosts failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, which begins in two weeks, but at least they will be there as hosts for next year's tournament.
The competition is being held in successive years to facilitate a move to odd-numbered years, thereby avoiding future clashes with the World Cup.
Seán Ryan, Fergus McDonnell
Sunday Indo Sport