Just a guy trying to get along

February 5th, 2021 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Well, that won’t happen again in my lifetime. The Jackpot pays £16,610 and all six winners are eminently findable. Several people thought so and were happy with their share of a massive carry-forward. A good friend in our syndicate finds five of them but I didn’t help very much with the race that downed us.

It was hardly a life-changing sum but it would have been handy, as we used to say. It’s a long time ago but I remember pondering this small yet expensive mistake over a stiff scotch and water and Brahms’ Third Symphony. Music invariably helps to a degree. The overture to Gershwin’s Girl Crazy has just been on Radio 3 and it must be at least twenty hours since Manchester United beat Southampton 9-0, marking my Vivien Leigh moment with the acknowledgement that, after all, tomorrow is another day. I was less philosophical last night.

Of course, something not happening again in one’s lifetime cannot be taken for granted; Leicester beat us 9-0 in the pouring rain last season and I remember United hammering Ipswich by the same score in the early days of Sky. I reported that game for them and interviewed Mark Hughes and Andy Cole, never dreaming that Mark would end up playing for us and managing us when we stayed up by a hair’s breadth a couple of years ago. Going way back, I have a picture of him embracing Le Tissier after one or our many narrow escapes.

Music is associated with most of my football and racing memories, the setbacks and occasional champagne parties. Brahms’ Third reminds me of the Arc and whenever Mrs Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel comes on I think of the former Southampton striker Neil Shipperley.

Several years ago I tried to get to a Liverpool v Southampton match at Anfield but was defeated by the M6, like many better men before and since.

I wandered the Cheshire lanes and found a pub in Knutsford where Ceefax was on. This was before the days of Final Score and Garth Crooks. (When I was working for BBC Radio in the 1980s, Garth was sent off for Spurs under fairly controversial circumstances and I rang him the following day to see if he’d do an interview. There was a tremendously long pause, which I now realise was down to his pondering how Nietzsche or Kierkegaard would have responded to such a request. ‘Let me think about it’, he said, finally.)

Anyway, it suddenly flashed up on the screen that Shipperley had scored and I managed to get through a couple of choruses of ‘Score a goal, Neil Shipperley, we will love you more than you will know’, attracting some funny looks in the process, because I was much too old for that sort of thing, even then. Liverpool equalised six minutes later but it was fun while it lasted and 1-1 was a good enough reason to get a round in. Complete strangers often warm to you quite quickly, have you noticed that?

Neil scored in the 3-1 win over United in 1996, when they famously changed their shirts at half-time. Several years later he came back with another club and was BIG, very big indeed. ‘Quarters as big as a bus’ as Raceform Notebook once said about one of Fred Rimell’s chasers making its seasonal reappearance in the West Country. That was back in the days when a handful of pro backers used to concentrate on the jumps and we had a proper break in the summer before everything picked up again at Market Rasen and Newton Abbot. These hardened pros just used to wait and wait for something with quarters as big as that to slim down and then in they went. There were very few fallers, especially if Fred trained them.

We only needed the first line, ‘Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson’, to sing the Neil Shipperley song but the rest of it is quite interesting. ‘Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you’. Actually Joe just went back to his restaurant in San Francisco, where the fishermen on the wharf guarded his privacy as best they could. He sent half a dozen red roses to Marilyn Monroe’s crypt three times a week for 20 years. “I’m not great”, he would assure reporters seeking to flatter him before asking personal questions about their marriage. “I’m just a guy trying to get along”.

I suppose Brahms reminds me of Paris because quite a bit of his Third Symphony is on the soundtrack of an Ingrid Bergman film called Goodbye Again, from the Francoise Sagan novella Aimez-Vous Brahms? The film isn’t much but the Paris locations will have you on the next plane.

Paradise for me would be the Saints winning on Saturday and then a view of the Seine and a small glass of Sancerre or cognac at 11am whilst trying to work out the two divisions of the impossible mile and a quarter handicap which used to open and close Arc day. (Don’t tell me you’re a purist who never plays the numbers and never has a ‘just in case’ bet. Claude Monet won a fortune on the French lottery in 1891 and gave up being a messenger in order to paint full time. Casanova loved a bet when he wasn’t otherwise engaged and Dostoyevsky would never have written Crime And Punishment but for being completely wiped out on the wheel. I rest my case.)

Incidentally, I found myself thinking about the sports update I used to write as the goals rained in last night. I think Portsmouth may win League 1, now that they’re over their lean spell. The dark horses are Accrington Stanley, who’ve got their best squad ever. All right, all right, that may not be saying much but they can play a bit. Needless to say, I’m not expecting to win a fortune. I’m just a guy trying to get along.