MAYBE this is just a sign of how gullible I was as a youngster, but one of the most convincing April Fool jokes I ever came across was back in the 1980s, when Shoot! magazine ran a two-page article – and interview – claiming that Ian Rush had moved from Liverpool to Everton.
I was sucked in. The magazine had pictures of Rush at Goodison Park wearing an Everton shirt and everything. No, you’re right, I still shouldn’t have fallen for it.
(Mind you, if you think I was gullible, that’s nothing on the large crowds that flocked to Preston Docks in the mid-1990s when Rock FM DJ Mike Toolan announced that the QE2 was coming. This despite the fact that there’s barely room to turn round a tugboat there.)
If the announcement of Dwain Chambers’ four-week trial with Castleford Tigers had come a day later, I’d have suspected similar jiggery pokery was afoot. I cannot understand for a moment what on earth has possessed the disgraced sprinter to think that he can play rugby league.
Those with far more knowledge of rugby league than me have pointed out that this is not the first time an athlete as attempted to crossover to 13-a-side. Olympic bronze medallist Emmanuel McDonald Bailey managed one game for Leigh in the 1950s before realising that the world of the scrum was not for him.
There’s something Ron Atkinson-esque about Chambers’ increasingly bizarre attempts to remain in the spotlight following his fall from grace. Atkinson appeared on a reality TV show in which he attempted to prove he was better at learning French than Esther Rantzen; Chambers has, in addition to trying his hand at American Football, appeared as a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen and Cirque de Celebrite.
Mind you, Chambers has some way to go to match Atkinson’s most bizarre post-scandal TV appearance; in Dictionary Corner on Countdown during the Des Lynam era. Unsurprisingly for someone whose mangling of English was legendary, Atkinson left all the clever eight-letter word stuff to Susie Dent, instead filling out the long dusty wasteland between the numbers game and the commercial break with anecdotes about Neil Warnock.
If Chambers’ switch to rugby league doesn’t work out, a spell in Dictionary Corner may be the only option left for him. If so, he should know that THG isn’t accepted as a word under Countdown rules.