I was greatly honoured to be drafted into the National Assembly's soccer squad for last weekend's sixth annual Parliamentary Shield, held for the first time in London - a tournament sponsored by McDonalds. This year we were led into battle by Labour AM, Alun Davies who set out his stall before the semi-final against the Northern Ireland Assembly team by stuffing his face with a giant beefburger just before kick-off. Not sure that our new coach, Ian Rush approved of this unique form of match preparation. I just said that it was great to be led out by a genuine 'burger king' - and I don't think the sponsors thought much of that quip.
Desperate start. Paul Mewies (Sandie's spouse) dislocated his finger in the knock-up - but bravely soldiered on. We were all over them. Hit the post. Missed a penalty. Hit the post again. Rushie then made a tactical blunder by taking me off when I was just getting into my stride. "Call yourself a coach", I muttered under my breath. So annoyed that I ate a beefburger. He then put me back on again. I was impressed by Alun Cairns, who was much fitter this year. He's primed and ready to run for the Vale of Glamorgan. 0-0 at full-time. Paul Mewies broke his arm trying to save a penalty. Spent the night in Hillingdon General. We lost a game we should have won - an assessment accepted by Pat Jennings, the Irish coach who has become something of a friend of mine. Pat has the most amazing voice, a cross between Henry Kissinger and Richard Burton with an Irish accent. Its a voice to seduce an angel - and a terrific all-round good egg with it.
Lost out to the Scots in the third place play-off. Concede they were a lot better than us. Rushie wanted to come on himself to turn things around.but the Scottish coach, Kenny Dalgliesh banned him. The Westminster team won - they had the new Minister of Sport, Gerry Sutcliffe playing. So a bad day for the celts. And just down the road our boys were annihilated at Twickenham. And Gareth Jenkins made a real idiot of himself by saying that England surprised him by their decision to put victory ahead of a bit of a pre World Cup run-out. What the hell did he expect, I ask myself. No wonder Roger Lewis had to issue a vote of confidence in him today.
Anyway, I enjoyed the Charity Shield game between Man U and Chelsea at Wembley on the Sunday. The Millennium Stadium is good - but I have to admit that Wembley is even better. And Mrs D had a chat with Lee Sharpe which rather made her weekend. Resolved to be fitter for next year in case I have another late call. So I went out walking tonight, delivering leaflets introducing myself to those voters in Montgomeryshire who don't know me. As long as Gordon Brown doesn't call an election before next August, I should be better prepared for the challenge.