Hamish Champ: There's only one place to celebrate turning 50...

By Hamish Champ

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New york Foreign satellite Sunderland a.f.c.

Holy. Mother. Of God. I knew that if I played my cards right it would happen eventually, but still, it was bit of shock when it finally rolled...

Holy. Mother. Of God. I knew that if I played my cards right it would happen eventually, but still, it was bit of shock when it finally rolled around.

This past weekend I turned old enough to avail myself of one of those savings policies that, as Michael Parkinson puts its, would in the event of my death take care of things like funeral expenses and other financial burdens on my nearest and dearest.

You must have seen the ads on TV fronted by the likes of Parkinson and June Whitfield, in which they tell you that provided you are at least 50 you sign up to can pay a few quid each month (no salesman will call) and then if you pop your clogs the insurance outfit will cough up enough dosh to bury you without bankrupting your nearest and dearest.

I'm afraid even the allure of a free pen or digital alarm clock radio doesn't get my juices flowing enough to want to find out more, but I'm sure some find the peace of mind sufficiently attractive.

Back in the real world, I've celebrated every significant birthday in a pub and hitting 50 wasn't going to change this habit - literally - of a lifetime.

Some people go on the Orient Express or fly to New York for their birthday but I couldn't see myself going anywhere but a great pub. My constitution, and that of my mates, was going to take a bit of a beating, since I was determined to celebrate twice, reasoning it was over a weekend and besides, if it's good enough for the Queen it's good enough for me.

I don't want to sound like an amateur philosopher but being in a pub and surrounded by one's mates is one of life's truly great pleasures. To do that sort of thing two nights running is close to being as good as it gets.

The only drawback with my new age is that it takes oh-so-much longer to recover from such festivities. The price of entering one's dotage, presumably...


I read Niall Quinn's comments made in the wake of the recent opinion over foreign satellite coverage of Premier League games with interest.

The chairman of Sunderland football club said he 'despised' those people who watched games being illegally broadcast live in a pub near the team's home ground.

Quinn said: ''I would never criticise anyone who doesn't come to the stadium because of financial constraints, but I despise those who spend far more than the price of a ticket watching some overseas commentator describing the action at the nearby Stadium of Light."

How much do pubs charge people to watch illegal games on their big screens, I wonder? I used to work in New York and we'd go to our regular pub on a Sunday morning to watch a live premiership game. The cover charge was $25, and we're talking 10 years ago. Do UK pubs showing football on foreign satellite decoders charge a similar amount, update for inflation?

And anyway, why do people opt for the televised version, versus the real deal? The cost of watching football 'in the flesh' is astronomical these days, with not much change from a ton for an afternoon's 'entertainment'.

The thing is, many thousands of true football fanes were being priced out of the game long before the current economic climate enveloped the country.

If 'Murphy's Law' goes the distance and becomes a new 'Bosman', whatdo you think the impact will be? And what will it do for pubs? Answers on a postcard to the usual address…

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