Arise Sir Jim. Why not?

Published: Monday, 04 January 2021
‘It’s a boat race tradition Anne,’. All over EggCup House people stopped what they were doing and looked up at a tv. Greavsie had the cheeky look on his face that only Jim wore. You knew it was coming.....but what?

Jim was our tv critic at TV-am. He’d preview on a Friday and review on a Monday. If he could cause trouble he would. He got away with murder. Our Aussie guv’nor Bruce Gyngell loved him despite often being the butt of jokes.

Jim was reviewing the Boat Race this Monday morning. It was the one that never got going. Cambridge collided with a barge and sank - so it was run the next day. Naturally there was room for a little chuckle from Nick Owen as the footage was shown, but Anne Diamond appeared to be genuinely concerned about the well being of those taking part. Well, I say genuinely concerned, she wasn’t really but she did ‘sincere’ very well. Truth was - like with all sport - she didn’t care less.

Anyway - ‘it’s a boat race tradition Anne’ said Greavsie. ‘Oh really’, came a half hearted response. ‘Yes’ said Jim. ‘The guys always dip their cox in the water. Here they are, at the end of the race on Sunday, celebrating and doing the same thing’.  
Brilliant. ‘Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring’. But of course, people did. I’ll save the rest for another time. The important thing here is to give you a flavour of Jim’s character. He was naughty. Impish. Always happy to stir up a little trouble and then leave the scene of the crime. I loved it. I encouraged it when it was my turn to sit on the sofa with him for a few years.

Jim played football like that. He’d nip into a box - steal a goal - and be off before anyone realised. He was precise - like a surgeon. Often a ball wouldn’t actually hit the back of the net. I’m sure he finished like that on purpose. Just like George Best in the ‘68 Euro Cup final - roll the ball in - let them think they can get it - but you know they won’t. Genius.

Greaves is still English football’s greatest ever goal scorer. Ok - he didn’t play in the final, but he was very much a part of England’s ‘66 World Cup win. He played until the quarter finals. It took until 2009 for the FA to organise a medal for the squad members - including Jim. What a disgrace. How shabby was that? Forty-three years the guys waited. Can you imagine that happening today?

A generation that never saw Jim play were royally entertained by him on tv. He had a habit of saying what people were thinking.  Saint and Greavsie were terrific. By this time, of course, Jim had stopped drinking. He hadn’t ‘recovered’ from alcoholism. You never do that. Every day is a battle and I discussed this with him many times in our hospitality suite at tv-AM as he waited to go on. ‘I’ll have a drink on my 50th birthday - or in the year 2000’ he once said me. His family told me recently that he did neither.

But I read that he did have a glass of wine to celebrate the award of his MBE. Good on you Jim. And I’m pleased that the honour has been received well by you. But - the Greavsie I knew would’ve told Boris Johnson and his govt to stick their MBE up their posh Tory arses. And quite right too.

How dare they? An MBE? Honestly. No. No. No. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. It should’ve been a knighthood. An MBE? It’s a pathetic nod to popular opinion that Jim needed acknowledgment after his recent illness. Yes - he did. He needed long overdue acknowledgment of a lifetimes achievements. Sadly not enough of the boys of ‘66 are alive to be honoured - but Jim is. So is Sir Geoff. And so is Sir Bobby. Why hasn’t Sir Jim joined them? It’s pathetic.

I exchanged messages on the subject with a member of Jim’s family. I’m pleased to say that they would appear to agree with me - that a younger, healthier Greaves would’ve reacted differently, but he’s old now and not in good health, so he’s accepted the MBE. I haven’t got a problem with that.

But think of the tax cheats, frauds, hucksters and Tory donors that have been knighted over the years. And there isn’t room for a genuine British icon amongst them? Come on.

A couple of other things before we close this week. Sorry - there is no excuse for defending Covidiots Senor Guardiola. I don’t care how nice a guy Benjamin Mendy is - or his fellow complicit fools that have put project re-start in danger. How daft does Mendy think we are? ‘He had a chef and two friends over for dinner’ Really? It would’ve been easier to organise a takeaway. Do you really need a chef for only two guests? Of course there was a houseful. The principal mistake was organising the event. The secondary error was to deny. That Guardiola believes it’s ok is incredible. Compare his remarks with those of Roy Hodgson when he found out that his skipper had been caught out. ‘Not acceptable’ was Hodgson’s reaction.

It’s one of the reasons the UK’s Covid policies haven’t worked. It seems people don’t care enough - but when high profile individuals take the piss - there really is no defence. No hiding place. A lot is at stake here. As the U.K. faces a third national lockdown if we are to continue to play football - and I’m not certain that we should - then the central components need to grow up, find some self discipline and responsibility.

One last thing - thank you for your response to my revelations about Man Utd’s ridiculous number of penalty awards - 33 in all comps - since the start of last season. Utd fans were furious. The rest of us know I’m right. Thirty three pens - that’s one every one and a half games. Impossible you would think? Some were genuine. The majority were not. It’s time referees wised up to the dark arts that Mssrs Rashford, Martial, Pogba and co are playing. The prosecution offers the following as evidence.