Early Doors

Enemy of the state

Early Doors

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MORE DESPATCHES FROM SEPP BLATTER'S CHOICE FOR WORLD CUP 2018: If it is a treasonable offence to affix a stamp with the Queen's head upside-down, then surely denying Cliff Richard a Eurovision Song Contest victory should result in a slow and grizzly execution.

Yet a documentary has claimed that General Franco fixed the 1968 contest to ensure Spain's one-name wonder Massiel beat Britain's favourite tennis-playing, bible-bashing celibate.

It always seemed a curious result, with the prosaic "La, La, La" (sample lyric: "La") no artistic match for Cliff's joyous "Congratulatisfnmalsd gfnfjkfjkdfl;asmdfm,abn sdklasdklal;wer nfrasdjl; sdf

Excuse Early Doors, it just had to wrestle control of its keyboard back from Channel 4 'Top 100' rent-a-quote and self-styled 'Professor of Pop' Paul Gambaccini.

Anyway, the point is, the fascist regime is alleged to have fixed the Eurovision song contest.

Not that you'd know it if you were Spanish, because La Sexta's documentary 'I lived the Spanish May 1968' was cancelled on Sunday to make way for Real Madrid's Liga title celebrations.

The irony of that will not be lost on Barcelona fans, who maintain that Franco routinely bought off referees and fixed games to ensure Real remained supreme and the pesky Catalans were kept in their place.

In fact the original Eurovision singer Joan Manuel Serrat was binned off because he insisted on singing in Catalan. Er, what exactly is the Catalan for 'La'?

But Early Doors can't help but feel that Barça's self-regarding victim complex and 'More than a club' schtick is tiresome at best and nauseating at worst.

After all, Barça won eight championships during the Franco years, and Real Madrid's success in the 1950s and 60s might have had more to do with Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo di Stefano than some dictator who was probably too busy bumping off political opponents to bother messing with the football.

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Foreign players will be kicked out of England if they fail to learn the language under new government proposals.

Despite evidence that many immigrants are so fed up with the UK that they are going home, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne wants the measure to reduce migration into the country.

The story is reported in the Sun under the frankly genius headline: "Boot for aces who 'no speak English'". All it lacks is an extra 'e' in 'Eenglish'.

"Footballers earn enough to pay for English tuition," stormed Mr Byrne, who might want to tell that to Wayne 'no GCSEs' Rooney and a host of other linguistically-challenged players from closer to home.

Like the proposed deportation of Al Bangura, it all seems like a random cracking of the whip based on the fact that nobody ever made themselves unpopular slagging off footballers (well, maybe Early Doors).

Still, if it helps players become more civilised, then so much the better.

ED looks forward to the day when Carlos Tevez, Anderson and Park Ji-Sung sit in the Old Trafford dressing room listening to Radio 4 and discussing the works of Emily Bronte, while their English counterparts slash each others' £2,000 suits and put Deep Heat in Rio's jockstrap.

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David Gold has plumbed a new and pathetic depth in the war of words between the Birmingham City board and Steve Bruce, accusing him of being mean to an old man.

Bruce is mad with Birmingham after he had to surrender £300,000 in image rights (it really is a sign of the times when Steve Bruce has image rights) when he left the club, and has said so on several occasions.

"Steve has consistently made attacks on the board. Does he hold all of us responsible including Jack Wiseman, who is 90, or just some of us?" sobbed Birmingham chairman Gold.

"At the moment an old man thinks he is responsible along with the rest of us and he's not. So come on Steve, show some courage. Name names. Anything else is cowardly."

ED's heart bleeds. Speaking of responsibility, how responsible is it to have a 90-year-old man on the board of a Premier League football club?

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: First Richard Hughes emerges as an expert on Italian football, now he is trotted out as a 'close friend' of Avram Grant, saying he will meekly return to tending the graves at Stamford Bridge: "This will happen with Avram's blessing. He is a modest guy who does not particularly like being in the limelight. He'd be happy to revert to the role where he acts as a link between the coaching staff and the board."

FOREIGN VIEW: Three-times champions Estudiantes were knocked out of the Copa Libertadores by Ecuador's LDU and their frustration boiled over when a player was red-carded for tweaking an opponent's nose. Tempers flared in stoppage time after LDU forward Joffre Guerron, who had taunted Estudiantes defenders with his speed and stepovers, was fouled. Guerron remonstrated as he sat on the ground, Estudiantes substitute Enzo Perez tweaked the Ecuadorean's nose and was sent off.

TALKING POINT: It turns out the only serious defence of women's football as a spectator sport is this from the splendidly-named buck_diggity: "Keep in mind that (most) female soccer players don't wear makeup on the field - it makes a difference, trust me on this one. Claudio Reyna's wife Danielle played for the University of North Carolina when I was a student there, and she was routinely the hottest girl in the room, non-athletes included, wherever she went." Early Doors has had a look and, well, he's right.

COMING UP: Barcelona can get one over their hated rivals tonight when they play Real Madrid in La Liga. Of course, Frank Rijkaard's men are 14 points behind because of some massive government conspiracy. Do it for Cliff! The game is live from 9pm this evening, and is always worth a look if only for the flying pigs' heads.

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