Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ashley's Lucky He Won't Have Mountain to Climb

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ashley's Lucky He Won't Have Mountain to Climb

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Norman

IF THE secret to a long and happy marriage is the sharing of interests, as Basil Fawlty once read on the back of a matchbox, the time has come for Ashley and Cheryl Cole to put down the deposit on their golden wedding bash venue.

The 50th anniversary of their elegantlyunderstated marriage isn't until the summer of 2056, it's true, but why wait when they have enough in common to guarantee a blissful future together? Much better to make the statement of intent without delay.

If the sterner moralists of the press and radio phone-ins wish to be scandalised by Ashley's encounter with the law outside a South Kensington bar early yesterday morning, I see it differently. Far from yet another case of a childish Premier League prima donna disgracing himself, here was a heartwarming instance of a loving spouse showing solidarity towards his absent wife.

The uxorious little chap demonstrated a commitment to match her own to helping others through the gift of laughter. While she was climbing Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, Ashley was doing his bit to provide comic relief for football supporters across the land.

God knows we all need a giggle in these dismal days and few of us more than the followers of Coventry City. The "Ghost Town" of the reforming Specials' immortal single has been particularly vulnerable to recession before and given its reliance on a vanishing motor industry probably will be again.

So none of us will begrudge them their fun tomorrow lunchtime when Chelsea attend Ricoh Arena for the first of the weekend's FA Cup quarter-finals, least of all the travelling faithful. No supportership shows more empathetic compassion to impoverished rivals than Chelsea's, whose rendition of In Your Liverpool Slum ("You look in the dustbin for something to eat/ You find a dead rat and you think it's a treat") has long been such a touching choral tradition.

The wording of the chants with which Sky Blues fans will serenade Ashley is of less interest today, however, than Guus Hiddink's reaction to his left-back's escapade. I suspect the Dutchman will handle him with kid gloves. No one who's I suspect handle gloves -- has is likely to coached a legendarily obstreperous Holland squad is likely to overreact to the sort of misdemeanour any loyal husband might commit while missing an unspeakably gorgeous wife off ascending Africa's highest mountain. …

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