WEIR’S WEEK – 31st January 2014

England’s women performed much better than the men in Australia
(Picture: Creative Commons)

This far I have managed to steer clear of mentioning ITV’s Saturday evening light-entertainment sporting offering ‘Splash.’ However, I have been worn down and must confess I find the show hugely entertaining. That could be because it is different and doesn’t feature Ant & Dec, while I have still to work out if the show’s main attraction is the dedication and bravery shown by the amateur competitors, or, the possibility of one (or some) of them suffering health-threatening injuries.

Given this week’s offering, and especially the damage done to Pollyanna Woodward, I fear the later may have me tuning in again this weekend …

Stanislas Wawrinka Unexpected Champion (Picture: Wikipedia)
Stanislas Wawrinka
Unexpected Champion
(Picture: Wikipedia)
The Australian Open tennis tournament turned out to be a real sporting tale of the unexpected. No-one really saw Stanislas Wawrinka emerging as champion when faced by Rafael Nadal in the final. Indeed no-one saw Wawrinka – or anyone else – being presented with the trophy ahead of the tournament, never mind the final.

For never mind the weight of Nadal’s shots; Wawrinka had the burden of history and statistics to contend with as well. And overcoming them, perhaps even more than the blistered Spaniard, made Stan’s success all the more amazing.

For starters, Wawrinka’s win against Nadal made him the first player in 21 years – since the 1993 French Open at Roland Garros – to beat both the world No. 1 (Novak Djokovic) and 2 in the same Slam event. That also made his the first player ever to defeat Djokovic and Nadal in the same Grand Slam tournament.

He also became the first player since Juan Martin del Potro in the 2009 U.S. Open from outside the ‘Big Four’ – Andy Murray, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic – to lift a Grand Slam trophy, with 34 of the previous 35 Grand Slams dating back to 2005 belonging to that quartet.

So not without good reason was the ‘Stan’s The Man’ headline fully merited …

The weather has played havoc with the schedules
The weather has played havoc with the schedules
Live football from Scotland tonight, brought in to our living rooms by BT Sport. Or not as is the case, when the pitch at Tannadice is deemed unplayable ahead of the Dundee United – St Johnstone game. While BT’s coverage has been terrific – especially now that Gary McAllister rides shotgun with the equally excellent Derek Rae – the Fickle Finger of Fate has poked the BT boys in the eye a few times. The cancelation of the United game added to the growing list of ‘no-shows’ from BT Sport this season north of the border.

Firstly the lights went out at Ross County’s Global Energy Stadium (you couldn’t make that one up) during their Highland derby with Inverness Caley Thistle, then Stenhousemuir’s Ochilview wasn’t up to the wind ahead of their TV game with Rangers. After ‘flooding’ put pay to events at Tannadice, one of my friends (in the loosest possible sense) did suggest that BT, Derek and Co should maybe be sponsored by Aviva or Direct Line …

Ovenight Down Under, England’s women cricketers clinch their Ashes series against the locals. Congratulations all round. I doubt though if certain elements of the sporting press and media have ever been as desperate to thrust England’s women cricketers in to the limelight. I mean, when you are listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2 you hardly expect the lead story on their sports bulletin to be about women’s cricket …

Cycling Scotland's Advert fell foul of the ASA
Cycling Scotland’s Advert fell foul of the ASA
And Cycling Scotland find themselves under a bit of a cloud – more than a hat – when the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ban the peddlers of pedal power’s latest advert because a rider was shown in the ad not wearing a helmet. According to the ASA, this could have encouraged behaviour “prejudicial to health and safety.” Cycling Scotland counter-claimed the wearing a helmet was not a legal requirement. Oh how many parents will enjoy that line being hurled back at them now!

Eventually, the ASA decided to suspend their ruling, but stressed the advert could still not be broadcast in its current form. Some would, naturally, see the ASA as having overplayed their hand on this one. Others, though, would have told Cycling Scotland to just do their own thing and completely ignore any findings, decisions or judgements passed by the ASA. By ‘others’ I should explain, I do mean certain groups within the Celtic family …

Bizarre goings on
Bizarre goings on
Many will have witnessed the bizarre start – and finish – to the Copa del Rey quarter-final between Racing Santander and Real Sociedad with the Racing players refusing to play because they had not been paid. From the first whistle the Santander players made for the centre circle, forming a huddle along with reserve players and backroom staff, so forcing the abandonment of the second-leg tie.

I did wonder whether they would have employed those tactics to highlight their plight had they been 3-1 ahead from the first leg rather than trailing by that margin. I also wondered whether Racing Santander vs Real Sociedad will replace Estonia vs Scotland as the world’s most famous ‘What Happened Next’ kick-off scene …

The transfer deadline timer is running again today on Sky Sports News, but it isn’t the only countdown clock I find online. Eklipse Sports Radio is now hours away from launch, advertised to take place on Saturday (February 1). I wish them well, having been an avid watcher of their site for months as various launch dates came and went; from July, to the start of the season, then to this autumn, and finally the tried (I almost said tired) and tested ‘coming soon’.

Will the wait have been worth it? I’ll tell you once I’ve heard the team and seen the schedules, both of which remain ‘closely guarded secrets’ as I write. Or are they closely guarded for a reason?