After England’s footballers’ frankly f*cking shambolic effort in France this summer, the nation needed a lift.
Cometh the hour, cometh Marcus ‘Willbomb’ Willis. The world number 772 had somehow made it to the second round of Wimbledon 2016 – despite having man boobs. Incredibly he had been drawn to play Roger Federer, arguably the greatest player of all-time.
Willis, who had been coaching for 30 sovs an hour at the Warwick Boat Club before his fairytale run at SW19, went in as the underdog of all underdogs against the 17-time Grand Slam champion Swiss.
The tabloids of course had a field day and I too somehow got caught up in the mass hysteria and ended up smashing the 4/6 that the match lasted more than 24.5 games.
It didn’t start well as ‘Willbomb’ lost the first set 6-0. Indeed Federer looked like he might dish out a triple bagel at one point before Willis sucked it up early in the second set to win his first game and finally get on the board.
It was a cracking match thereafter. The ‘Fed Express’ was always the boss but Willis’ guile and cunning kept things competitive and he eventually succumbed 6-0 6-3 6-4. That was 25 games in total meaning my bet was up. Just.
In a BBC interview afterwards a breathless Willis said of his effort, “I’ve earned a beer, I think.” More than that Marcus my son, you’ve also earned a place in the heart of a problem gambler from Hartlepool. Forever.
I am now officially off the beer after sustaining another booze-fuelled injury on Saturday night. In my defence the reason I cracked two ribs at the weekend was more to do with music than it was liquor.
Indeed I was happily minding my own business in the pub watching Germany v Italy when some clown decided to put The Pogues’ classic ‘Boys from the County Hell’ on the juke box. Now I love Shane MacGowan – with his eyes like twitching roadkill – but when I’m seven pints deep his music reaches me in strange ways. So before you could say “Young Ned of the Hill” I was up on a table…and quickly down again.
Broken ribs though? Have you ever tried sneezing with broken ribs? Ye f*cker it’s like being stabbed with a garden fork.
I spent Sunday night desperately trying not to sneeze while watching France thump Iceland. Having £160 on France to win minus a goal at 6/5 certainly eased the pain as Les Bleus romped to a 5-2 win in Paris.
Iceland were a shambles in the first half and watching them while realising these jokers were the team that knocked England out only made me fume all over again as to how pathetic England’s effort had been this summer.
Make no mistake, this will always be the ‘What if?’ Euros. What if Roy Hodgson didn’t make six changes against Slovakia and we topped the group? What if Roy had brought Marcus Rashford on after an hour against Iceland instead of just with minutes to spare? What if I didn’t drink Bacardi from 10am on the day of the Wales game, start doing Klinsmann dives in the Fan Zone and almost sever my index finger on my left hand clean off? I guess we’ll just never know…
Cheeky’s Punt of the Week: France to beat Germany and both teams to score at 11/2 (Paddy Power)