Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the box: A farewell kiss to Glasgow

By Billy Weir

So with the strains of Caledonia still echoing around a Hampden Park filled with the detritus of partying athletes and probably some poor weightlifter from Nehru trapped below a pile of Irn Bru bottles, Glasgow 2014 is no more.

From Norfolk to the Norfolk Islands, from Kiribati to Kilmarnock, it's toodaloo to Tuvalu, and aptly enough, the British Virgin Islands returned home without scoring, as the curtain came down on the Commonwealth Games.

Northern Ireland proved once again that we're good at fighting, and sports involving intensive training stints with much tea drinking and tray-bake action, while the BBC could barely contain themselves that England were top of the table. Just as well Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay aren't in the Commonwealth.

While cyclists were still wringing out their sapping shorts and hanging them in the hot press of the athletes' village, the rest had come out to play on Sunday evening, for the star-studded closing ceremony.

"There's one final big one to come," promised Clare Balding, and we eagerly awaited the appearance of Michelle McManus, but to no avail.

"4,750 athletes have run and jumped and cycled, swum and shot at goals and at targets. They've boxed, they've bowled, they've wrestled and now it's time for the athletes to party," and dance in deeply cringeworthy fashion with Katherine Grainger later on.

It was a night for the Beeb to wheel in all the natives, Clare joined by Hazel Irvine, who couldn't have been happier had her script been covered in batter and deep fried.

"Come in, come in, it's nice to see you was the message – it's all back to oors," she said as people in Hemel Hempstead wondered what an 'oor' was.

"Hampden will once again be heaving, or hoachin' as we say around here," and I was beginning to look out my Big Boy's Book of Scottishness, before Hazel growled 'There's been a Murdoch.'

This homage to Taggart is sweeping the streets of Scotland, apparently, in homage to Ross Murdoch's epic defeat of fellow tartan swimmer, Michael Jamieson, although 'beat and greet' might be more apt.

Joining Hazel in the commentary box for the ceremony was another tartan special in Andrew Cotter, and we were told that the evening was to mirror that of a music festival and this was embraced fully and as Lulu starting to scream 'wellllllllllllllll.' I'm sure a bottle of WKD was hurled at the stage, or certainly something with an orange liquid in it.

Athletes began to emerge from tents on the Hampden turf, while out of shot there was a four-mile queue at the haggis supper van and an even bigger one for the portaloos but with dignity intact, and played by Deacon Blue, a band called Prides appeared with a ditty called Messiah.

To quote Monty Python, there was no Messiah but there was a mess, so it was nice then that a dustbin lorry started to drive around the track as we paid homage to those who were waving goodbye to their over-time.

To calm things down a little two wee men in suits were next on stage with one of them, Prince Imran, declaring that it had been the best games ever but sensibly not ushering Tina Turner onto the stage for a rendition of Simply The Best to disprove Seb's united Glasgow belief.

What we did hear was even more bizarre, as the artist formerly known as the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, declared 'Glasgow – you were pure, dead brilliant.'

The kilt factor was then turned up, a Robbie Burns number belted out to mark the sweet sadness of parting and then we were rudely interrupted from our slumbers by some Aussie upstarts who hijacked the evening.

A succession of healthy-looking, fit people bounded on with gleaming white teeth, and suddenly it came back to me where I'd heard of our Hampden host Des Clarke previously. He has changed much since his days in Neighbours and there was no sign of Daphne. Probably back home preparing a barbie for 4,750 athletes.

And so to the finale, Kylie, formerly Ms Minogue, coming on in next to nothing and you just wanted to go onto the stage and give her a wee cardie to wear, and indeed one daft Aussie athlete in her horrendous green pullover looked to be doing that as she got up on stage too.

And then she was gone, replaced by a man called Dougie, sadly not Donnelly, with a rendition of Caledonia and then the 'All-Star Cast' came on for Auld Lang Syne, not so much Live Aid as Barely Alive Aid.

And so it's off to the Gold Coast we go. Yes, they may have miles and miles of golden beaches, steaming hot surf and glorious sunshine, but will they have dancing Tunnocks tea-cakes?

Belfast Telegraph

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