Wishing Ollie all the best

Ian Holloway.
Ian Holloway.
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IF you don’t like football, you may wish to look away now.

Ian Holloway, a Messiah in these parts over the last three or so years, has left Blackpool FC (I pride myself on being first with the news).

Reg Dean

Reg Dean

Famously insistent on only allowing Charlie Adam to leave for a top four or five club, Holloway has departed to go to ... Crystal Palace.

Most fans will thank him for what he has done at Bloomfield Road (promotion to the Premier League was a miracle on a par with Jesus turning water into wine), though some are miffed with the way he walked out.

Still, no one can deny Holloway was a breath of fresh air and built a fantastic, entertaining team which not only put the football club back on the map but the town too. The Seasiders elevation to the top division led to a boost in the local economy, not least because of the feel-good factor it resulted in locally.

What I most liked about Holloway was his sheer zaniness.

Mitt Romney and his family

Mitt Romney and his family

I worked as a football reporter for a decade and met some dreadfully dull people. Some were so boring it would have been more enlightening to talk to a small wooden cupboard.

Holloway, though, was completely different and how lovely it was to meet a football manager with a bit of life and personality. He wasn’t scared to speak his mind and not for Holloway bland statements about 4-4-2 or defending set pieces. He was more likely to launch into a soul song or give you a 15-minute lecture on why Picasso was better than Monet. His rant about Wayne Rooney a couple of seasons ago, during which he referred to the United striker as Shrek, has gone down in folklore.

He wasn’t perfect, and at time his persona could grate, but in these ghastly PR-led, stage-managed, deathly dull times, when people in the public eye are virtually instructed what to say by their agents and advisors, it was fantastic to have him around.

He will be sorely missed because there will never be anyone quite like him again, or at least not for a while. Like Brian Clough, he was a one-off in his generation.

Of course, you can’t just be slightly nutty. You have to be successful too and that’s where Holloway excelled. He could walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.

What he achieved at Blackpool FC will never be forgotten. He will go down as one of the club’s best ever managers, and the fact he entertained us so richly as well was a bonus.

I wish him the best of luck, though I can’t help but feel he’s taken a huge risk in walking out.


How to give age the slip

IT is a depressing fact the lowest life expectancy for males in England is in Blackpool.

We’re all doomed. Quick, let’s pack our bags and head to ... well, anywhere but Glasgow, which has it even worse than us.

But hang on. Before you fret, it’s not something to get too down about. Us fellas residing in these parts should, on average, live to an age of 73.6 years (it’s 71 in Glasgow).

Now that doesn’t sound too bad for me, that’s until you compare it to Buckinghamshire and Surrey where male life expectancy is above 80.

The reasons why are obvious. Blackpool is a town with problems: too many individuals with addictions (alcohol and drugs), poor quality housing, people on low income which leads to an unhealthy diet.

The council is doing good work trying to improve the situation and as I reckon they probably know more about how to run the town than me. I’m going to let them get on with it without sticking my tuppence worth in.

I do have my own theory though, namely that not dying is largely down to luck.

My grandma, for example, had a bacon sandwich for breakfast almost every day of her life. For supper she ate a crumpet, sliced horizontally so she could butter both sides and therefore get even extra fat into her veins.

But did it affect her? Not at all. She lived an active and full life until she died at the age of 43.

I jest – not about her diet, which was indeed terrible, but her age – she lived till she was 100.

Other people live like monks and die much younger, some tragically early. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to me, other than luck of the draw.

Yet scientists are obsessed with this topic, regularly talking to people who have reached the grand old age of 100 in a bid to discover the secret of becoming a centenarian.

They have found a common theme: those who get a telegram from the Queen engage in regular physical exercise, undertake mental challenges, do not smoke, keep their calorie intake and alcohol consumption under control, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and go to bed at 6.45pm every night.

I made the last one up, but you get the gist. To be in with a chance of making it to three figures, you have to be pretty boring.

Of course, it might be nothing to do with that. The religious among us may feel it is God who decides when and how we meet our maker.

One Christian website I happened upon read: “God will prolong our lives if we keep on obeying His commandments and instructions.

“The virtues love, wisdom, justice, 
understanding and self-discipline preserve, strengthen and lengthen our lives on Earth.”

Crikey, serious stuff.

What we need is hard proof and doesn’t come harder than Japan, for the Japanese are, by some distance, the most successful people at giving death the slip.

According to statistics, on average Japanese women live to be 86 years old and men make it to 80. That is – for want of a better phrase – the longest longevity in the world.

Experts say one of the main reasons is a healthy diet.

A typical Japanese breakfast is Tukemono (pickles), Nimono (fish or vegetables boiled with soy sauce) and Yakizakana (baked fish), Miso soup, rice, green tea. Seaweed, Umeboshi (picked dry sour plum) and Natto (rotten beans) are also eaten.

Which is all very well except it sounds pretty awful.

So I’m going to side instead with Mr Reg Dean, from Derbyshire, for his theory is right up my street.

Born in 1902, Mr Dean celebrated his 110th birthday last week and when asked the secret to a long life, put it down to “being lazy”. Wonderful, it means I’m on course to make it to at least 135.


Thank mercy it’s not Mitt!

STEPHEN Fry, a man with a knack of summing up a complex situation in a few pithy words, got the US election spot on, remarking: “None of my business, but I have met Mitt and … well. Please not. Please.”

Which is exactly what I thought after seeing the photograph above. The group shot of the Romney clan consists of 25 or so Americans, all beaming smiles and teeth so white they must brush 24 times a day with extra strong Colgate.

The photo is supposed to hammer home the fact Mitt is a super family guy, but all that strikes me is the weird way they’re dressed.

The young male children wear matching blue checked shirts, the girls orange polka dot outfits. Mitt and his five sons (one who, inexplicably, is called Tagg) are wearing pale blue shirts (apart from the fella at the back in a striped shirt, who is either the black sheep of the family or sneaked into shot at the last minute).

It is a horribly scary picture, thank goodness then Obama won at a canter.