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On the perils of sports-writers trying to be clever

March 10, 2023

If you have the misfortune to be a fan of Tottenham Hotspur, then like me you will have experienced that familiar sickening feeling of disappointment and dismay at their pathetic toothless performance against AC Milan the other night. Bad as that was, however, it wasn’t quite as bad as reading the review of the match by Henry Winter in the Times the next day. This is what Mr Winter had to say about Cristian Romero getting himself sent off for two reckless challenges: 

            ‘Romero, Romero, wherefore art thou’s brains?’

            Isn’t that dreadful? It gives me an almost physical pain. How do I hate it? Let me count the ways. 

First, because of its horrible mangling of a famous line from Shakespeare in the service of a joke that’s about as funny as a slipped disc. 

Second, for the witless misunderstanding of the word wherefore. Wherefore means why, as any fule kno. When Juliet asks ‘Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ she means ‘Why are you Romeo?’ – ie why did you have to be Romeo; why couldn’t you come from a family who aren’t sworn enemies of my family? 

And third: thou’s. I mean, come on. Just come on. Does Winter really not know that the possessive form of thou is thy? And even if he doesn’t, isn’t his spellcheck working?  There’s no way you could type that imbecilic coinage without incurring a squiggly red line. 

The worst of it is that Winter is Chief Football Writer on the Times. The chief? Good God, what are the others like? 


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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    He is the Winter of your discontent.

  2. John Dunn permalink

    I have an uneasy suspicion that the belief that ‘wherefore’ means ‘where’ is quite widespread. It’s a bit like thinking that ‘fulsome’ means the same as ‘full’. And you could have pointed out a fourth offence: a second person singular verb (art) with a third person plural subject (brains).

    But I did appreciate the Molesworthism.

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