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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I can't help thinking about football and beer at the moment when I should be packing and looking for my passport.

But they go together like, oh, I don't know, the leaking gutter and the landlord. If I could put one under the other I'm sure I could make my point, regardless of whether or not I get them the right way round.

You don't have to be drunk, packing your bags or propped under a leaky gutter to support Ireland in the World Cup, though.

Every keen schoolboy has been brought up to believe that Roy Keane was wrong; not just foul-mouthed, not just arrogant, but wrong. Sport is what matters, not Roy Keane's ego or even his ability. And yes, isn't it marvellous for Niall Quinn and the rest of the Irish team that they are doing well without him. I'm sure you know this is not just a Manchester City supporter talking here, though, of course, Niall did play so illustriously at Maine Road.

No, in an ideally simple world, Ireland and Quinno, who gave his testimonial money to charity, would go on to win the world cup and I would meet the unmighty Keane over a pint of Guinness and a prawn sandwich and ask him if he has any regrets. And then burst out laughing.

We all make mistakes, but some are not on such a big and highly paid stage as others. In my case it was always brides that came before a fall.

I've never forgotten seeing Keano when he was leading the team out, cheek by jowl with the opposing captain. He just blanked him as if he was an alien. It wasn't like he was squaring up to Mike Tyson or anyone. It was breathtaking and that was wrong, too.

I've heard a conspiracy theory that it was all a plot to give him time for vital groin surgery, but I've never heard of surgery there that wasn't for sustaining life. A friend of mine has just refused it, with considerable courage, I think. It's like saying someone choked on their own vomit, because it's unlikely to have been someone else's. Roy Keane is someone you wouldn't want to spend a night in an Irish pub with, because you might end up in a fight and I can't think of many worse things to say about someone. Well actually I can, but I won't.

Instead I'm looking forward to gauging what the Irish think and I'll be in deepest County Somewhere by the time you read this. (That deepest thing, by the way, is meant as flattery - at least they have protected themselves from the sort of invasion that has ruined some parts of Britain, let alone Ibiza).

For some reason we treasure tranquillity and yet allow hordes of people to come and drink our beer and there I go again. I thought ranting when you were sober was something only Victor Meldrew did, but then I'm still new to this game.

Why do you think there are barricades, even if they are only of the honeysuckle variety, at either end of Meadow Lane?

At least I am supporting Ireland as well as England and I don't yet know if there's a kind of mutuality there.

And now I must really go and pack, secure in the knowledge that while I'm away a man is going to come and sort out the computer which, I am assured, needs to be de-fragmented. I'm sure I do, too, come to think of it, though I've not a clue what it means

Ignoring the lure of the black stuff, I've heard Roy Keane and I will be in Ireland at the same time, though Mike Tyson won't be there. I suspect only one of us will be celebrating.

Sinclair Newton