The latest cause of one’s ire being provoked is the forthcoming New Year’s honours list which has reminded me of the Queen’s Birthday Honours last June – where Scots football legend Kenny Dalglish was finally given a knighthood.
Now, of course I know the honours lists are nothing more than an archaic relic of an imperial past and the last bastion of the British Empire, dating back to 1765, as a quick glance of any newspaper comments section will tell you – but I was chuffed to bits that King Kenny was finally being rewarded.
However, any fleeting joy quickly passed as I came to realise it was at least 25 years too late – and then I remembered Billy Connolly only got knighted in October 2017, (nine years after Michael Parkinson) to pour some petrol on the fire.
All was not well.
This led me to do a quick tally of those less deserving than Sir Kenny and Sir Billy who have been honoured over the years, including diddy sportspeople, dodgy bankers and that guy from Star Trek: The Next Generation, not the real one with Spock and Captain Kirk.
I nearly crashed the Toyota Auris (2011 plate) going home over the Queensferry Crossing as my sense of injustice began to mount at this national disgrace.
For people of a certain vintage Kenny Dalglish and Billy Connolly are Scotland.
Dalglish was honoured in recognition for his services to football, charity and the city of Liverpool after a long campaign. Back in 2011, former Walton MP Steve Rotheram campaigned for the former Liverpool manager to be Sir Kenny and tabled a motion in the House of Commons which was signed by 13 MPs.
He was a veritable colossus as manager of Liverpool FC during the Hillsborough tragedy, providing support to a community under attack from the worst excesses of the Thatcher government and a right-wing press who considered the average football fan to be scum.
Sir Kenny attended many of the funerals for the victims, including four in one day. He was already a king but proved himself to be a saint at considerable cost to himself and his family in terms of the mental anguish they suffered.
The 67-year-old Glaswegian was said to be “embarrassed” when he heard the news of his knighthood.
But the image of Kenny Dalglish I and thousands others will always carry is the look of sheer joy on his face every time he scored a goal “and could he play”.
Sir Geoff Hurst was knighted in 1998 for services to football.
He’s famous for scoring two goals and hitting the bar for England in a World Cup Final back in 1966 – you may have heard of it – and owes his knighthood to a Russian linesman.
As for Connolly – well they should have marched him up to the palace for his award after his sublime 1985 show, An Audience with Billy Connolly. I can imagine the panic when the honours committee realised they’d missed this impressive pair of Jocks. Perhaps there was a spelling error, as any junior reporter will tell you both surnames are easy to get wrong – but they were more than likely overlooked.
Allow me to bring a little bit of perspective to my rant.
First off, I’m talking about men only here – knights, not dames.
Personally, I feel every Dame deserves her title from Judi Dench to Emma Thompson and Edna Everage along the way, all thoroughly merited – nothing to see here.
What rips my knitting is the sheer number of non-entities knighted for not doing very much and certainly not for winning battles or discovering cigarettes and tatties in the case of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Sometimes, there’s a whiff of moral dubiety clinging to the recipients that’s hard to shift or they can prove to be too much of an embarrassment to Queen and Country – like Fred Goodwin.
Enter Team Sky.
A more joyless bunch you’ll struggle to find. Granted they’ve won six Tour de Frances in seven years and have inspired a generation of angry middle-aged project managers to take up cycling, but I still wouldn’t fancy their Christmas night out much. Sir Bradley Wiggins and Sir Dave Brailsford both picked up knighthoods as a legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games but in March 2018, the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee stated that Team Sky had “crossed an ethical line” by using medical drugs to “enhance the performance of riders”.
Their “marginal gains” approach to winning is tainted and Sky are running for the hills with the team set to be disbanded in 2020.
Compare this to our own Sir Chris Hoy, a credit to the sport of track cycling after someone told him “you’re too big for that bike son” when he was riding BMX. Sir Chris is an all-round good guy and a credit to the pursuit of riding a bike indoors.
Then there’s Sir Andy Murray, given Scotland’s relationship with obesity and tennis in general, they should have given him a presidency never mind a knighthood. So, I await the New Year’s list with bated breath. Like the Oscars, no one seems to care about a knighthood until they receive one – unless you’re David Beckham, who went in a massive cream puff when he was knocked back.
I’ll leave you with this – Ringo Starr was knighted last year for services to music and as the old joke goes “he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles”.