During football’s closed season, what do sports commentators find to talk about? Nowadays there’s always a match showing somewhere across the vast satellite network and if you’re prepared to take an interest in the Under 21 Euros or the Under 19s Championship you can even follow a tournament. Of course there is also the Women’s Euro 2013 in July in Sweden.
However a couple of decades ago with fewer channels, there really was a closed season, leading to some sports writers being short of material. The Sentinel’s reporters rose to the challenge most years, although they were able to reduce the number of football free topics by book ending the season with reflections on the past year for football, and then predictions on the season coming up.
Nevertheless, the holiday months were an opportunity for Pat McHat to consider more summery sports, in particular tennis and cricket, both of which at that time were perhaps not overly popular north of the border.
In July 1995, Pat writes to his doctor, concerned that he had developed an interest in cricket, leading to him checking the latest score when he thinks no-one is looking. You can read his letter in full here. Despite his cricket consternation, in 1999 he covers the Cricket World Cup, reminding readers that it used to be a popular sport in Scotland.
Tennis, or more specifically Wimbledon also comes to the rescue of the summer sports column. However Pat is not overly impressed by the quality of tennis star on offer as the title of his July 1996 report, “It’s Wimblebore” hints. Once upon a time, he says you were guaranteed a high quota of talent, tantrums and thrilling five-setters. But he feels the game now lacks charisma and is more Yawn than Lawn tennis.
However, it remains difficult to resist the lure of football and the 1998 World Cup provides a great chance to reflect on the players’ highlights of the hair kind as Pat considers how much French hairdressers must have benefitted from an influx of international footballers as customers.
Wester Hailes had its own summer sport of course in the form of the Fun Run. Back in the 1980s, they also organised a gruelling Triathlon with a 40km swim, 10k run and a 34km cycle.. 60 people took part in the first one held in 1986 and you can read more about it here. The 2013 Wester Hailes Fun Run/ Walk takes place on Sunday 16th June starting at 10.00am at Hailes Quarry Park.