Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group A - Qatar v Ecuador - Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - November 20, 2022 A FIFA World Cup trophy replica is seen on the pitch before the match REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach | KAI PFAFFENBACH

My love of sport started as a child. I grew up playing football, rugby, cricket and basketball at school. I also played football outside of school at the weekends both Saturdays and Sundays. When I wasn’t playing sport I was watching it. Now I grew up in the pre Sky Sports era so the weekends were also taken up with watching Grandstand, Football Focus, World of Sport and The Saint & Greavsie.

Remember we never had live games to watch on TV in those days, so it was the highlights on Match of the Day on Saturday night and The Big Match on Sunday afternoon. If you were lucky you could stay up late on a Wednesday evening and watch Sportsnight. I was never without my portable radio which had an ear piece and back in the day I used to listen to live football on BBC Radio 2. If I went to a live game I used to get on the train to Finsbury Park and go to Highbury to watch Arsenal. It was £5.00 to get onto the North Bank and you had to get there at 1pm to get a good place to stand for a 3pm kick-off. Kids don’t know they’re born today!

I’m getting to my point don’t worry. What I’m trying to say is I’m a bit of a traditionalist who can cope with change but sometimes I’ll take some convincing.

So I’m going to say something that if you’d had asked me a year ago I would have had a totally different opinion. I actually think the winter World Cup wasn’t such a bad thing. Now if my team Arsenal had held on to win the Premier league I would of course have said that, however they didn’t, but there are different reasons for my opinion on this. We all know that Qatar won the bidding to host the World Cup because of a complete stitch up by FIFA which has since been proved. Everybody said at the time including me, a winter World Cup? It will never work. It should always be in the summer that’s where it belongs. The World Cup itself had some great games, mainly I think because the players had only played half of their league matches and weren’t exhausted after a long season.

Remember England were probably only a penalty kick away from making their first World Cup final since 1966. But the final itself was probably one of the best and to see Lionel Messi finally win the World Cup with Argentina was very special. Another plus from a working point of view we at Pirates didn’t have to rearrange our shows around when England were playing. In my 30 years as part of the show we have always had a low audience if ever we decided to perform on the same night as an England game. Which we don’t do anymore by the way.

All this though isn’t just about how good the World Cup was. By having the tournament in the winter it has given us sports lovers the chance to enjoy a summer of other sporting memories. Which to be honest normally take a back seat if the World Cup or European Championships are on. When I look back this summer I’ve been able to enjoy the Ashes, Wimbledon, the Open Golf, the F1 and now the Women’s World Cup. The highlights? The Ashes has been one of the best of all time even though England ultimately didn’t win, ‘Bazball’ has revolutionised test cricket. The young Spaniard Carlos Alvarez beating the favourite Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in one of the best Men’s finals ever seen. Whilst the F1 has come a little bit of a procession with Max Verstappen winning every race. The brilliant Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive’ has made F1 more fun to watch. The Lionesses look like they’re starting to play better after a slow start to the Women’s World Cup and I hope they can mirror their Euro success last year.

Now I don’t know what I’m going to do next summer. The Premier League finishes on May 18th, the FA Cup final is on May 25th. The Champions League final is on June 1st and that’s followed by the European Championships from June 14th to July 14th. Not only that but the Olympics start in Paris on July 28th until August 11th and we’re then back round to the start of the Premier League. The problem is those other sporting events that I have enjoyed so much this Summer will once again have to take a back seat.

I know what you’re saying, you should get out more.

Take care everybody and enjoy your weekend!