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Brian Viner

Brian Viner

Brian Viner swapped London for the Herefordshire countryside, and his column ‘Country Life’ documents his attempts to chase the rural idyll. Chiefly a sports writer, he pens a weekly sports column and interview for the paper. He is the author of Ali, Pele, Lillee and Me: A Personal Odyssey Through the Sporting Seventies.

Brian Viner: A knight to challenge Sir Alex in footballing derring-do

How, I wonder, might we estimate the total number of column inches devoted in the national press this week to the exploits of Manchester United and Chelsea in reaching the first notionally all-English European Cup final, and to the achievements of their respective managers, Sir Alex Ferguson and Avram Grant (a total which I confess to boosting myself elsewhere in today's paper)?

Recently by Brian Viner

Brian Viner: A bygone era of gentlemen and pulmonic wafers

Saturday, 24 May 2008

As I sit at my keyboard, on the first morning of the second Test between England and New Zealand, whatever might be the collective noun for cricket writers – a backward point perhaps – is settling down in the media centre at Old Trafford, preparing for a day of cricket, or rain, or both. As they plug in their laptops, I wonder how many of them are familiar with the name of William Denison?

Brian Viner: Germany says auf Wiedersehen prat to a great anti-hero

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Every year on FA Cup final day, the broadcasters like to remind us that the big match is being beamed live to 184 countries around the world, and will be watched by an audience of 1.6 billion people, from fishermen in Shanghai to beekeepers in Saskatchewan. This we take as affirmation that English football still rules the planet. Never mind the inadequacies of our national team, unable to qualify for Euro 2008; never mind the dwindling number of Englishmen playing for our leading clubs; the blue riband occasions in English football still capture the world's imagination. So we are told, and so we like to believe.

Brian Viner: We'll always have Paris – and our bikes

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

It has sometimes been hard, down the years, to arrive back in this country from a holiday abroad and not find immediate, grumpy fault with everything. To stop myself venturing down Victor Meldrew Avenue, as it were, I have sat on trains halted by the latest points failure just outside Didcot, or sat for hours on motorways with two lanes inexplicably closed in both directions, or joined the great mooching multitude on the London Underground for one short, horrible journey costing £4, or simply listened to a series of very loud mobile phone conversations, pointedly reminding myself of the many reasons why I enjoy living in Britain.

Brian Viner: The naked truth about football, not a pretty picture

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Far be it for this column to blow its own trumpet, but here goes anyway. On 11 August last year, on the opening day of the Premier League season, it began thus: "You don't have to be Nostradamus, or even Eileen Drewery, to predict what is going to happen in the Premier League season, which begins today with no certainties except that Manchester United will win it, Chelsea will finish second, Arsenal will finish third and Liverpool fourth. That I know this before the season kicks off is of course dispiriting beyond belief, and means that as a source of excitement I must already focus on the relegation battle: any three from Derby County, Wigan, Birmingham City, Fulham, Reading and Sunderland."

Brian Viner: The mystery is how Goss and his crew find courage

Saturday, 26 April 2008

About 15 years ago, I was offered an interesting journalistic assignment: spending four days and nights on a fishing trawler off the coast of Cornwall. In February. My editor thought that I was just the man to write a colour story about the experience, but in the end, it became clear to him that I probably wasn't (manacling myself to railings outside his office screaming "please, please, please don't send me to sea" might have planted the first seed of doubt in his mind).

Brian Viner: Don't despair: polite people do still exist

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Trying to find uplifting words in the national press can be like fishing for marlin in Lake Windermere, so I am indebted, as Cyril Fletcher used to say on That's Life! to John Grist, whose letter in these pages yesterday put a spring in my step and a song in my heart.

Brian Viner: Mark Speight and the shattering of a child's illusions

Thursday, 17 April 2008

In December 1971, when I was 10 years old, an American actor called Pete Duel killed himself. To my friends and me, the news came as a horrible blow. Duel played the outlaw Hannibal Heyes, alias Joshua Smith, in our favourite TV show, Alias Smith and Jones.

Brian Viner: Country Life

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

It must be five years since I picked up a forlorn-looking hitchhiker on the A44 who sniffed the air in the Volvo and asked whether I was a chicken farmer. We hadn't been living in the country for long, so it was nice to know that I was already fitting in, smell-wise. I wasn't offended at being mistaken for a man with 10,000 or so chickens, even though we only had four. It made me feel, for the first time, like a horny-handed son of the soil.

Brian Viner: Does Tiger burn too bright to keep up with Jones?

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Our betting correspondent, Mr Hey, with whom I am privileged to share this page, knows as well as I do that every gambler, like every fisherman, has a story about the one that got away. And while I hesitate to call myself a gambler, lest I give the wrong impression to my mother, who reads this column and was married for 24 years to a compulsive gambler in the form of my late father, I have been known to press into the palms of Mr Ladbroke the odd tenner, one of which accompanied a betting slip marked "double: Durham Edition to win the Grand National, Nick Faldo to win the US Masters".

Brian Viner: Country Life

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Bell in Yarpole, a classic Herefordshire village pub with a black-and-white timbered exterior and an old stone cider press at one end of an oak-beamed dining-room, is run by the modern incarnation of the classic Herefordshire pub landlord, a Frenchman from Lyon. A charming fellow called Cedric Bosi, he is the younger brother of Claude Bosi, who last year transplanted his highly-successful restaurant Hibiscus from Ludlow to London.

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