PATRICK COLLINS: Elizabeth Park? I’m sorry, this is nothing short of a national disgrace

When the medals are won and the anthems are sung and the last, weary athlete has shuffled off home to Kiribati or Kyrgyzstan, the nation will sink back in its sofa and marvel at the memories.

We shall recall the achievements, the agonies and the compelling dramas of three wondrous weeks of sport in the greatest capital on earth.

And our memories will revolve around the spot where it all happened, the enchanted 250-acre site where the youth of the world came to live out their dreams at the London Olympics.

london 2012

A rundown part of London will be transformed because of the 2012 Olympics - it deserves a better post-games name than Elizabeth Park

The place which henceforth will be known as . . . Elizabeth Park.

Some mistake? Apparently not. Under a plan proposed by the borough of Newham and endorsed by Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the London Olympics will have no tangible memorial. Instead, the field of dreams will bear the name of the reigning monarch, an estimable woman who played no part in their delivery and will take little or no interest in their progress.

It is, quite simply, an outrage. Even monarchists might agree that, with all those boats and bridges, hospitals and concert halls bearing her name, future generations are unlikely to forget Elizabeth II. And yet, in a quite unnecessary show of deference, a docile Establishment bends the knee once again.

The man who came up with this wheeze is one Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham. He says: ‘The great affection with which Newham and the rest of East London holds all things royal is well known. We all remember how the Queen Mother inspired the East End during The Blitz.’

This is the Labour mayor of a deprived inner-city borough, peddling the ‘Gawd-bless-yer-Marm’ cliches of a Pearly King. I am reminded of a letter written to
the learned journal, Viz:

‘We should remember the tremendous contribution of the Queen Mother to the war
effort. As the BBC pointed out, she “bravely remained in London beside her husband” during the war. This contrasts sharply with the actions of my grandfather who, on the declaration of war, immediately left his wife and children and ****ed off, first to France,
then North Africa, Italy, France (again) and finally Germany. The shame will always be with us.’

boris johnson

Banging his gong: Boris Johnson needs to take action on this matter

Now, if we were dealing only with the forelock-tugging idiocy of daft Sir Robin, then the problem would be swiftly solved. But some of the other parties involved give real cause for concern. What possessed a Government — even one as desperate as this
— to fall so meekly into line? And Mayor Johnson, whose duty is to safeguard
his city’s Olympic legacy, yet who enthusiastically supports the scheme to erase the Olympics from London’s memory: Is he cynical, devious or merely obsequious?

Whatever his motives, they do him no credit.

The British Olympic Association, with the Princess Royal as its president, finds itself in a delicate position.

But it points out that: ‘It is important that the public has something to remember the 2012 Olympics by, as there is no bricks and mortar legacy from previous London Games of 1908 and 1948.’

Shamefully, the BOA has not been consulted over the proposed name. If and when it is, it must speak truth to power. Because it is the thrilling reality of a London Olympics which have regenerated that long-neglected slice of East London. It is the Olympics
which have created the largest urban park Europe has seen for 200 years.Without the Olympics — and the impetus, urgency and focus they have engendered — nothing would have happened.

We would have heard a stream of highsounding excuses, from arcane planning laws to the credit-crunching recession. But there would have been no rejuvenation. Indeed, not one brick would have been laid upon another.

And how do we plan to mark their titanic contribution to the life of our capital city and our nation? Why, by pretending they never happened, by air-brushing them out of our history. It is more than an outrage, it is a scandal.

Yet an entirely avoidable scandal.

Before still more calamitous errors are made we should take matters out of the hands of self-serving, star-struck mayors. We should ask the Prime Minister to get off his knees and come to his senses. And we should make sure that the message penetrates the Palace.

For the London Olympic Park is a jewel for the ages, a prize worth fighting for. We must not let it go.

Phil’s cunning plan to ease £64m debt

A year has passed since Phil Gartside, the chairman of Bolton Wanderers, tried to
persuade English football’s leading clubs to vote for a two-division Premier League
with no relegation.

Naturally, he was not trying to guarantee Bolton a permanent place at the Premier trough. No, he was earnestly attempting to safeguard the deserving greedy. Yet still his plan was rejected because it didn’t suit the greediest clubs.

But Phil is no quitter and this week he will present an amended version. As before, there will be two divisions of 18 clubs. This time Rangers and Celtic would be added,
because the vigilant Gartside has heard that they attract a good many followers. And,
crucially, relegation would be retained. But here’s the catch.

Clubs would be promoted only if they could meet stringent standards of size and finance. So how high would those standards be set?

For instance, would an aspiring club be promoted after posting a loss of £13.2 million
last season and carrying a net debt of £64m? Because that is the situation in which Bolton Wanderers find themselves.

These are questions for the guru named Gartside. I just know that he’ll come up with
convincing answers when he meets his Premier League chums this week.

Swann’s far more Tufnell than a Warne

They say that Graeme Swann is the chirpiest of chaps and we can well believe it. His Test career may be just 12 matches old but he delivers his opinions with the breezy
confidence of a seasoned sage.

Graeme Swann

Playing the fool too often: Graeme Swann

The man seems incapable of walking past a microphone or stifling a jest. Indeed,
there were times when the Ashes summer felt like an extended Swann stand-up routine.

He was at it again last week, on the eve of the South African tour. ‘I would walk Strictly
Come Dancing,’ he prattled. ‘Honest, you should see me move. I am absolutely brilliant. Cricketers are the most natural sportsmen going. Footballers are the lads
who couldn’t count at school and rugby players are the accountants and bullies who couldn’t get into the cricket team.’

The lines probably sounded better at rehearsal. And yet Swann clearly intends to construct a career as a ‘card’ and the fact that he has absolutely no talent to amuse will not deter him. I suspect he would swap 10 Test wickets for the chance to rub shoulders with the desperate wannabes of Strictly or I’m A Celebrity.

A kind counsellor might encourage him to drop the jokes, restrict the interviews and
concentrate on developing into something more than an unremarkable Test spinner.
In an ideal world, he  would dream of becoming the new Shane Warne. Instead, he seems depressingly anxious to become the new Phil Tufnell.



Respectful congratulations to Manchester United and Liverpool for resisting attempts to coerce them into wearing poppies on their shirts this Remembrance weekend.

Both clubs do an immense amount for services charities and they rightly resent being asked to provide trite proof of their patriotism. It is a curiously un-British impulse, this impertinent desire to dictate how the dead shall be remembered.

Those of us who wear the poppy will do so in the knowledge that it symbolises, at least in part, the victory of quiet, undemonstrative men and women over shrill and vulgar bullies.

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