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Archive - Friday, 17 August 2001
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Graham's putt upstages hero on the golf course
Exactly 20 years since his finest and most fondly remembered hour, Ian Botham was for once upstaged on Tuesday - but this time on the golf course.
Close to home, the Squire of Ravensworth was playing in the Stable Lads' Welfare Trust golf day at Richmond with club chairman Randall Orchard - whose own claim to fame is that he was once Shildon's centre forward - and Graham Wheatley, from Richmond.
It was Graham who sank a hole in one at the 138 yard 12th, the first ace in the 19 years that the indefatigable Raye Wilkinson has been running the competition.
Officially the charity is now Racing Welfare. Raye, the northern organiser, prefers the old name and attracts entrants of both sexes - the term "Lads" is generic - from as far as Newmarket. Henry Cecil's head lad won it.
Graham, who'd never previously holed in one, was lavish in admiration of the Squire. "Lovely bloke, gives the ball a hell of a whack, keener to talk about golf at Richmond than something which happened 20 years ago."
The former England captain remains the great iconoclast, however. Back in the clubhouse it wasn't the ecstatic Graham who stood the drinks, it was the ever-generous I T Botham.
Ian Botham couldn't attend the golf presentation evening and fund raising frenzy; Megan Burford was there in her best red frock. If Graham Wheatley makes the headlines, Meg Burford makes the pictures.
So keen on horses that she spent three years working in a bookie's - "before that I even used to enjoy mucking out" - she is now being tipped for international acclaim as an equine artist.
"I'll bet you that print of hers will auction for £800 tonight," said Carl Pickles, a partner in Stockton based Crown Fine Arts which promotes her. He was wrong, it stuck at £750.
Meg's a Darlington lass, dropped out of A-level art to work on an Arabian horse stud farm, now lives on a council estate back in Darlington where even the burglars appreciate how greatly she has improved.
When they raided the house on Firth Moor they left all her paintings behind. When they broke into the town art gallery a couple of years later, they unscrewed her stuff from the wall.
"In a way it was quite flattering," she says.
It was at the stud farm that she met Jeremy - otherwise Jez - her future husband, and with whom she moved to a promised "luxury mobile home" on another stud farm in Devon.
"It was a little Robin caravan, really primitive," recalls Jez. "You could lie in bed and cook your breakfast."
Now they share the house with two children and half a dozen or so cats. Meg, 34, has become a full time artist, the dining room converted into her studio. Jez - who bought her first water colour set as a Christmas present - does two jobs to give her the chance.
From 6-11pm he's a delivery driver for an Asian restaurant before a ten hour shift as night manager at a snooker club across the road.
Once a Megan Burford original might fetch £20 - her first horse had a rather dopey smile and no neck - the latest, provisionally called A Mile to Glory and painted after many hours studying and photographing starts at York racecourse, is expected to sell for £2,500.
"In terms of hourly rate, she'd still be better off sitting behind a till at Morrison's," says Jez.
Carl Pickles compares her to wildlife artist Alan M Hunt, who lived in a council house in Redcar when Pickles "discovered" him in 1981. Now he spends much of his time in America, has a five bedroom place near Thirsk and sells originals for £40,000.
Meg's two racing prints at Richmond raised £1300 for the Trust. Still bigger frames are to come.
The Durham and District Sunday League is clamping down on referee abuse and alcohol on the sidelines. We'd tell the world, but the world appears to know already.
League secretary Graham Lilley sent an e-mail about it to Peter Playle, a committee member who also edits the league magazine. For reasons which need not concern us - in other words, which are wholly beyond the column's understanding - a computer virus became quite attached to Graham's message and began global transmission.
Before the virus had been spotted and disinfected - as, apparently, they say in cyber circles - details of the never-on-Sunday had been forwarded to 84,643 addresses of which 33,212 opened the e-mail and 18,233 replied.
Peter works for a multi-national company in Washington, the one alongside the Wear. Though most replies had to be ignored or deleted, among those in favour of more Lord's day observance were Christchurch, Kowloon and Kuala Lumpur, Riyadh, Amman and Dubai. A reply from the office in Perth, Western Australia, was more equivocal. "Ban alcohol? Surely it's the life blood of the Sunday game."
Peter - "I'm still getting enquiries from Prague on the wellbeing of our league" - is now almost over the virus. But if misbehaviour continues, the league warns, it'll be the whole team that catches a cold.
Resisting the temptation to pontificate on what the best policy might be, the Stepy's Coaches Durham and District Sunday League handbook - annual treat - also records a life altering name change. Washington Fabrications have become Washington Honest Boy instead.
Alan Wilkie, another of the no-nonsense school, emerged from refereeing retirement on Saturday to take the friendly between Tow Law and Workington.
When last the teams met, in an FA Cup tie at Workington, police used CS gas to subdue fractious fans (and, inadvertently, to poleaxe the Northern League chairman).
No problems on Saturday, the self-styled Tow Law Misfits finding a happy niche amid Alan's clubhouse crack on cantankerousness, Cantona and reffing around the world.
"He was brilliant," reports Doc Forster, the Lawyers' manager. "They must all have been there until about half past seven, when one of the Misfits' girl friends rang.
"She told him it was time he came home for his tea."
New and improved, possibly like the team, the Middlesbrough fanzine Fly Me To The Moon kicks off its 13th season against the glorious Gunners tomorrow.
"It needed a facelift, it's a bit more presentable now," says editor Rob Nicholls - of the mag, not the team - though he believes Boro may be changing for the better, too.
"Steve McLaren is a total antidote to the old regime, both on and off the field."
Now on its 173rd issue, FMTTM may be about to lose its record as the most published fanzine in English football, however.
Stoke City's pottered periodical, known for some reason as The Oatcake, also publishes for every home match and claims that it will overtake this season. "They play more games than us," says Rob.
Paul Addison, another ardent Middlesbrough supporter, will be paid to watch on Saturday - Radio Cleveland's sports editor, he's the match commentator as live Premiership coverage returns to BBC local radio after six years.
With an ear to rival stations, it's being billed as "The Common Sense Choice."
Paul, Thornaby lad, began watching the Boro in the desperate days of the mid-80s. Now 24, he promises a sort of dispassionate passion.
"Of course everyone here wants them to win, but we have to tell the truth about what's going on on the field, which sometimes hasn't happened in the past."
He'll be assisted by former Boro player Paul Kerr - "scored the goal that got us to the ZDS Cup final," says Paul. "He's been my hero ever since."
On Sunday, 2.30pm, our friends from Wolviston entertain the Derbyshire side Elvaston - holders and 1994 champions - in the semi-final of the National Village Cricket Cup. The winners are at Lord's on September 9.
"They sound a very handy side," says skipper and Spanish conquistador lookalike George Sayers, cautiously.
Wolviston, never previously beyond the last eight, have Mark Mullen and John Woolnough returning from holiday in place of Mike Gough and the unfortunate Mark Christon, whose duties now include finding enough chairs for what's expected to be a huge crowd.
"We've tried schools, church halls and every back garden for five miles," says Mark, who will also be 12th man.
The column will simply be adding to the bums on seats. More of the great occasion on Tuesday