Harty on Haye v Klitschko and the Worthing Evening Cricket League

THE late Sir Henry Cooper epitomised everything that was good about sport.

He never moaned or complained when something went against him, be it Angelo Dundee splitting Cassius Clay’s glove or Joe Bugner getting a very dubious decision in what was Sir Henry’s last-ever contest.

He never, ever, resorted to “trash talk” in order to hype his fights and sell tickets, perhaps he didn’t have to, it was a different time.

So, in the year that we lost one of this country’s greatest sportsmen, let alone boxers, I personally feel sad that one of our best boxers is resorting to tactics outside the ring more akin to the playground at Grange Hill.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of David Haye. Regardless of what people say about the overall state of the current world heavyweight boxing scene, he can only fight who is currently about.

On Saturday, he has a career-defining fight against Wladimir Klitschko in Hamburg, in fact, it’s a fight that will define both boxers’ careers.

With the contest unifying all but one of the major championship belts, the other being held by the other Klitschko brother, Vitali, the fight sells itself. I know, because I’m lucky enough to be going.

Therefore, I actually found myself cringing at 6am on Tuesday morning when, while watching Sky Sports News, I see Haye telling Klitschko that he would put him in hospital and that he hoped there would be room in the ambulance for his brother to travel with him.

Haye doesn’t need to do that. In the same way, he made a distasteful comment in his lead-up to the Harrison fight. I do wonder whose handling his PR, Kerry Katona, perhaps?

He is a world heavyweight champion, an icon of the sport around the globe.

He shouldn’t be saying these things. For the record, he doesn’t have to as I believe he will win with a seventh-round KO but, hopefully, Wladimir will leave the ring on his feet, rather than a stretcher.

And, so, after 60 years, the curtain finally comes down on the Worthing Evening Cricket League with a thrilling finale.

Goring’s last-ball win against Chippingdale gave them a league and cup double in the last year of the competition, although not without off-the-field incident.

It appears that when the local scumbags last burgled Goring CC, they stole the Evening League trophy (which on hearing the news put me in mind of the time Crystal Palace had their trophy room broken into and the police scoured South London for months to retrieve the red and blue carpet that was stolen).

Unsurprisingly, that didn’t throw Sir Laurie Claydon. Because, quite fittingly, on the last day that Blue Peter was transmitted from BBC TV studios in London, Laurie produced another trophy that “he had made earlier”.

So, after more than half a century, that’s it for the 20-over competition, first devised, I believe, during a lunch hour at Bentalls staff dining room by, among others, the late Cyril Wall.

There’s no doubt without the drive and determination of Laurie, David Lyle and others, the competition would have ceased a number of years ago.

I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing my gratitude for the gentlemen who have worked so hard, and given so many people an enjoyable game of cricket over many years.