One of the strangest sights I ever saw occurred during the Manchester Uunited versus Charlton Athletic football match last week. Rio Ferdinand, the United and England center-back, collapsed to the ground apparently injured. The referee called on the United physiotherapist who supplied Ferdinand with a packet of McVitie's Chocolate Digestive biscuits to eat. It seems that the cause of his distress was that he was hungry, poor thing.
I wondered at the time whether this was an advertising stunt. Would we see in days to come advertisments for McVitie's biscuits showing Ferdinand revived on the field by their miraculous confectionary? But reflecting on it, I have seen tennis players at Wimbledon eating bananas between sets. Is their something wrong with the diets of modern atheletes?
The current popular injury among English footballers is a fractured metatarsal. So far the following have suffered: Michael Owen, David Beckham, Ledley King, Gary Neville, Ashley Cole, and Wayne Rooney (twice). The boots are blamed. Not for them the heavy leather clod-hoppers, smeared with dubbin, and soaked in the bath to shrink them to their feet; todays carpet slippers with studs don't protect the feet. But we don't see the same injury in Spain or Italy.
Perhaps the answer lies in the diet. The only food item that impacts on bones is Vitamin D. This vitamin is found in dairy food and is also manufactured in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. One serious possiblitity being looked at by experts is that cows in Britain don't get enough sunshine. In Spain or Italy the sun always shines, but the murky skies over Britain deny the cows the opportunity to make vitamin D. Added to this the curent crop of youngsters never got their school milk the way we did. When she was education minister Margaret Thatcher thought this was an extravagance and took it away (Margaret Thatcher-milk snatcher).
So England may fail to win the World cup next month because of Mrs Thatcher and the murky skies of the North West where little Wayne grew up.