Friday, May 15, 2009

After-Dinner Sports Tales - Rodney Marsh

I have decided over the next few weeks to assemble a compilation of some of the most humorous after-dinner tales as told by some of Britain's most famous sporting legends.

These are real stories from their lives, both inside and outside the world of sport.

Nowadays, most professional sportsmen receive advice on how to present themselves in front of an audience, but in the dim and distant past this was not always the case.

First up is Rodney Marsh, a former England international footballer, who played for QPR, Fulham, Manchester City and Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USA.

Latterly Marsh would become a highly respected television pundit, bringing the same instinctive flair into the studio that had served him so well on the pitch.

Not surprisingly, however, Marsh also retained the characteristic ability to self destruct. Marsh would lose his job with Sky Sports after making an unfortunate, but basically harmless, joke concerning David Beckham's inability to understand the difference between the Toon Army and the tsunami which had just struck Asia, a joke virtually every football fan must surely have already heard.

Here is one amusing excerpt from a speech made by Rodney at a sporting dinner.

"I was capped nine times for England and I'm often asked why I only got nine. Well, here's the reason why:

England were playing Northern Ireland in the Home Nations Championships and they were tough opposition in those days, with the likes of George Best and Pat Jennings in their line-up.
Alf Ramsey was England manager at the time, a cockney like me, but he had taken elocution lessons before the World Cup finals in 1966, so he now spoke very posh.
Before the game Alf gave his team talk and stressed that if we were to win the game we would have 'to work very hard.'

He went on:
'As a team we must work harder, you in particular Rodney. You must work harder when you play for England. I've told you before when you play for England you can't play the way you usually do. In fact, this is your last chance. If you don't work harder tonight I will pull you off at half-time.'
'That's brilliant,' I said. 'At Man City we only get a cup of tea and an orange!'

Funnily enough, that was the last time I ever played for England!"

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