Belfast Telegraph

The French give us all a little bit of something that we can all fancy

By Billy Weir

France was rocking on Sunday, and I'm not just talking about Marseille and PSG coming out to the strains of Van Halen at the Stade Velodrome for Le Classique.

BT Sport was on the scene, well, more likely they were in a cupboard in London for the big game in Ligue 1, with Jim Beglin alongside Peter Drury who, in dreary fashion, gave us a little contextual lesson.

"The rivalry, the fixture which more than any other underpins French domestic football. Paris and Marseille, 411 miles between them but separated by so much more than motorway – culturally, historically, innately, instinctively, worlds apart. This is more than south versus north, these are clubs that want nothing in common," he said, so a bit like Hull v Southampton, but with more garlic.

It was a hot and heavy affair, so with that in mind the authorities were taking no chances with a Mnsr Turpin in the middle, but he was so bad the teams were probably calling him a bit of a highwayman after the game.

Unbelievably in fashion-conscious France, flares are still all the rage, one just missing our intrepid referee although the drama was taken out of it slightly with a close-up showing that it was attached to a small parachute, meaning it floated gently down to earth.

Anyone who used to toss their Action Man out of the landing window tied onto a Stewarts bag will get the general idea.

There was plenty of action, the home team taking the lead courtesy of a penalt. As Drury pointed out 'the southerners are singing and the blue touch paper has been lit', clearly forgetting a singed Action Man had been lost in combat earlier.

Down to 10 men, PSG grabbed a lifeline just before the break with an equaliser, Maxwell bringing the house down with a header or, as Beglin said, 'the keeper was in daftland there'.

It was to get much more daft soon after as, back in the studio, we were told that David Ginola had said it had been 'a lovely jubbly first-half', a point picked up after the break by Beglin who added 'but what was it Del Boy used to say 'he who dares, wins'. And so it proved as the world's best worst player or worst best player Zlatan Ibrahimovic won it from the spot and Mnsr Turpin was last seen heading north on Black Bess in the direction of Chantilly.

And there he would have found the aftermath of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe that had witnessed an epic clash of its own earlier in the day, with a horse called Treve winning, although really it should have been Dave to keep things in order.

Channel Four were there and Clare Balding revealed much more than we wanted to know when Ruler of the World's jockey Ryan Moore received last minute instructions from trainer Aiden O'Brien, saying he was 'just getting a tiny bit warm between the legs'. Not sure who she meant.

There was more double entendre fun when Al Kazeem's trainer Roger Charlton appeared, with Clare's presenting partner Nick Luck revealing that 'this will be his last race before taking up stud duties at the Royal Stud of Sandringham'. Again, I think it was the horse, but either way, Prince Harry won't be pleased.

But not as unchuffed as Frankie Dettori whose broken foot meant he missed the ride on Treve, as Mick Fitzgerald pointed out. "Frankie will be sitting at home and wanting to kick the TV," said Mick, but as David Ginola would have said, only fools and horses would do that sort of thing.

Belfast Telegraph

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