LOST for words ... legendary Liverpool player John Barnes isn't.

Man United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjar certainly is.

The recent racist abuse of two of his star players who had not scored from the penalty spot brought the beautiful game into sickening disrepute yet again.

Racism on and off the pitch is nothing new but the vocal violence on social media must be tackled head on.

While VAR (video assisted refereeing) revolutionises the sport and takes it into a new high-tech era, we need to cry 'FOUL' more when it comes to dealing with rising, rancid racism.

I recall attending a match at Anfield in the late '80s when I witnessed one of the greatest pieces of soccer skills ... a jaw-dropping moment of fabulous foot dexterity.

A visual statement communicated without a pitch-side, microphone-wielding reporter and a piece of brilliance that spoke volumes without saying a word.

As he went to take a corner a few bananas were thrown at John Barnes who, with trademark ultra-coolness beautifully back-heeled them to the morons who had thrown them in the first place - sending them bananas in the process.


Three decades on, local hero JB is still making his mark away from the game as a pundit.

He rightly stresses there is a bigger picture and showed his debating prowess on Question Time as a powerful commentator on discrimination in society.

He has condemned the sickening abuse received by footballers Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford and that other influential and articulate world player Raheem Sterling.

In these 24/7 mobile-phone-dominated days Twitter and Facebook, for example, should not be allowed to move the goal posts any further.

We need a minister for anti-social media - a game-changer who is given authority to hand out red cards to bullies and on-line abusers while confronting all the perpetrators of casual evil who Solskjaer describes as 'hiding behind fake identities.'

A new Tsar racism referee should sign up a premier team of movers and shakers such as John Barnes and England women’s team head coach Phil Neville, who is so angry he wants a six-month boycott of social media.

BBC 5 Live's inspiring 'gadget detective' Fezre Turkalp is also an ideal motivating voice as he calls for an Ofcom-styled regulator.

John Barnes stresses: "Racism is a problem in society.

"This is a social problem.

"Until we put together an educational programme to let people know why it is wrong to be racist, rather than blaming social media or blaming football it will continue."

I'd love to hear that famous football motto from 1966 used in 2019 where we beat racism: "they think it’s all over ... it is now."


I AM getting braver in my Autumn years after attending an open day for a Wirral first - the drop-in Dental Hygiene Studio.

Jules Fisher has brought an air of fresh breath (see what I did there) to Wallasey with her brand new business.

And she ensured the opening was fun without a dentist in sight with her quirky quiz where you had to guess who the smiles of the famous belonged to.

I was down-in-the-mouth – gnashing my teeth in despair.

One thing I was right about was that the orally-challenged Shane McGowan from The Pogues wasn't in the beaming line-up of pearly whites.

This breezy concept is now a feature of the studio's website and it made me chew over an idea for a new game show to pitch to Channel 5.

After all, dentistry is the one profession reality telly has so far baulked at.

Hey Jules, I can see it now - Whose gum line is it anyway? or It will be all whitening on the night.


AS we sing hello goodbye to yet another International Beatle Week it seems the Fab Four really did epitomise a happier, feel-good era.

Experts say the music we listen to now has become progressively sadder and angrier since the 1950s when such snappy ditties as See you later alligator oozed fun and innocence.

Researchers at a Michigan university analysed 6,000 songs and put on record that music became "fearful in the 80s" and "angry in the mid-90s."

We have hit the grimmest notes in the 21st century and heaven knows it’s not all down to miserable Morrissey.


TALKING of classic songs ... cue Stuck in the middle by Stealers Wheel.

It's an apt soundtrack to the real life story of the over-75s losing their TV licences from next June.

Back home from back-slapping with Trump in the Biarritz G7 summit, Boris Johnson says the BBC should 'cough up.'

But our gung-ho PM is conveniently forgetting it was a pledge in the Tory manifesto to keep them free.

It will be the 3.7 million pensioners who will have to 'cough up' the £154.50 which an Age UK spokesperson said left the over 75s 'stuck in the middle' between the Government and the BBC.

If only we could have a referendum on what we - the licence-paying public – think.

Oh, on second thoughts ...


And finally ...

I won't shy away from revealing that Monday is World Coconut Day.

Here's a thirst-quenching thought from comedian Milo McCabe, who was such as hit at this year's Edinburgh Festival.

He believes Brits are like coconuts: "Hard on the outside but sweet once you crack us. Also often found full of alcohol and holding an umbrella."

Coconut cocktails all round.

Peter Grant